My name is Juan C. Martínez, I am from Sofre in Penonomé, province of Coclé. The Forum Foundation has been a pillar in the communities of the northern area of my province. I learned about the Foundation through one of its English programs, offered at my school Jose de Los Reyes Vasquez in 2012. It was there where I first learned about the Foundations work and the impact it has had on the lives of many people in rural communities.
I then participated in the Foundation’s intensive English courses offered at the UTP Language Center. These classes help you improve your English and focus on improving reading, writing, and fluency when expressing yourself. This experience opened the door to another opportunity as it allowed me to study at “The Hun School of Princeton” in New Jersey, for an entire school year. There I was able to interact with people from all over the world, including French, Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, European Americans among other cultures. Attending HUN was without a doubt one of my best experiences. Studying in another country like the United States opens doors for you and makes you see your environment from a more global perspective with an international mindset
This is what inspired me to become a teacher and contribute to creating professionals in my country. Once I returned from the United States, I continued my studies in the area of Systems Engineering pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Software Development, as well as obtaining my teaching degree. By 2014, the Forum Foundation announced the opening of “Academia Forum”, a school with an International Baccalaureate in the northern area of Chiguirri Arriba, Penonomé, where children from various communities received world class education.
Having participated in the English programs with the Foundation opened the doors for me to start teaching at “Academia Forum”. I worked there for 3 consecutive years and it has been a rewarding experience, because one understands how education changes the life of a society, helping prepare young people who are caring, informed and eager for knowledge, capable of contributing to create a better and more peaceful world. I like to teach Technology and English and encourage my students to adopt an active attitude of learning for life, so that later on they can be great people who collaborate in the development of the country and their communities.
Forum Foundation also helped me in my professional development through the many IB workshops that were indispensable for teaching this rigorous course. Among the workshops received, I can mention CAS Cat. 1, Coordination Cat. 1, Coordination Cat 2, which took place in Heredia and San José, CR. I also received workshops from Harvard University that helped me further develop my teaching skills in the classroom, workshops such as “Teaching for Understanding”, “Making Learning Visible”, and “Visible Thinking”. I can say that I learned a lot teaching the IB Diploma Program. But these courses also show you better ways of teaching and the many ways students can learn. They really do help you see how beautiful education can be.
The Pandemic has been a difficult test for everyone, because it is something that you do not expect and suddenly it arrives and you are up in the air, without being able to move from your home and with fear of being infected if you do not take care of yourself. The situation has also influenced other factors such as the economy and the family, but despite all those things it makes you reflect and see how fragile you are, that despite many riches you cannot buy health or happiness and as Nietzsche said “What does not kill you, makes you stronger ”.
These have been difficult times, but I have faith they can be overcome with the help of God. Currently I am part of the team that is helping advise the Ministry of Education on the implementation of the IB at the new Academia Billingue Panama para el Futuro. Together with other teachers from the former Forum Academy, we are giving the best advice we can based on our 6 years of IB experience.