Ailin Jassiel Perez proudly displays her diploma, a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Panama, Cocle. Raised in the community of Machuca, Piedras Gordas, Ailin first heard of Forum Foundation when she graduated from middle school in 2013. It was her teacher who told her about the scholarships being offered to attend the academy.
Accustomed to traveling for at least 30 minutes to attend school, Ailin knows the value of effort. One challenge she faced early on is that none of the high schools nearby offered the diploma she wanted. “Fortunately, I was able to obtain a scholarship and attend the Forum Academy. Graduating in the class of 2016, we were proudly the first graduating class.”
While attending the Academy, learning English quickly became Ailin’s favorite subject. She happily admits this is why she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the humanities. English to be specific.
Reflecting on her days as an IB student at the Forum Academy, she realizes the challenges she has overcome over many years of effort and perseverance. Studies were rigorous, with sleepless nights, and a lot of effort to finish assignments on time. “There were many times I cried because I felt I could not keep going, but I persevered, and as a result, I opened my mind and took advantage of opportunities to get where I am now.” Tears and all Ailin continues to show the determination to keep growing.
During her university studies, Ailin received support from Forum Foundation. Like many university students, she lacked the resources to be able to cover the costs of traveling from her community to the university. Moreover, she says, the skills and competencies she developed as an Academy student helped her be successful in university. This is especially important because just as in high school, university students are also at an increased risk of dropping out and not pursuing their degree to completion.
“Learning is important because it opens the doors to a world of opportunities. Our world needs great professionals so that I can continue developing. It is great to see how we can contribute and help make society move forward. We live in a country where there are still great gaps in education. I am motivated to be part of the solution and positively contribute to education in Panama. Personally, I consider that English is an important language in life. Every student should take advantage of the opportunity to learn English. Not only when you are enrolled in school or in the classroom. But for your entire life!
Ailin tells us she was fortunate enough to spend four months in the United States as part of the Panama Bilingue Program, an initiative that strives to give Panamanian English educators the opportunity to experience life and culture in the United States, in order to increase their English skills. “This experience helped me learn a lot and also realize that there is a whole great big world that we should experience and be part of.”
Her focus set on becoming an English teacher in the near future, Ailin has already had some experience in her professional practice. She noted that during this time she understood the importance of teaching young children how to use technology for learning. This is now something all teachers and students need to be familiar with. We need our country to take technology seriously and capitalize on the use of technology for learning. It has the potential to expose us all to an increasing amount of knowledge, experiences, resources, and skills. There is much to learn and explore outside the classroom.” says Ailin.
Advice for those who continue learning? Do not be limited to just the things you learn in school. There is a lot to see, learn and explore. We must open our minds to different and great experiences that can result from these explorations. The more we learn, the more we hone our skills and the more the potential within us grows.