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Amid Venezuela’s crisis: The IB Diploma’s impact on my life

We invited IB programme graduates to reflect on post-IB life and offer perspectives on topics of their choosing. Alumna Julianna Bouso Rodríguez looks back at her IB experience and reflects on the impact it has had on her future.

By Julianna Bouso

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IB Diploma Programme graduate Julianna Bouso continues her studies at the University of British Columbia.

In May, 2013, I graduated Instituto Educacional Juan XXIII School with my IB Diploma, along with my Venezuelan High School diploma. Now, almost three years after, and upon starting my last year as a university student, I can happily look back to what I consider was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever lived. The DP marked the beginning of a series of remarkable experiences in my life.

For Venezuela, the year 2013 was an extremely difficult one, and from then on the situation just worsened entirely. In March of 2013, right when we were finishing up with our Internal Assessment, and getting ready for the so-feared May examinations, former president Hugo Chavez died. Chavez’s death led to several weeks of national mourning, in which every activity, including classes, were cancelled nationwide. Also, a month later, Nicolas Maduro was running against Henrique Capriles in what was going to be one of the most stressful and dangerous elections Venezuela had ever witnessed, cancelling classes nationwide for another couple of weeks. For any IB student, missing that insane amount of class so close to one of the defining events of our lives is extremely terrifying.

Nevertheless, my friends and I did really well, taking into account all the hardships we had to go through. Even though some of my friends were not awarded with the diploma, they currently say that taking the DP was the best decision they have ever made, and I agree wholeheartedly. You see, the IB Diploma Programme in general does not only leave you with a really powerful tool that allows acceptance to many of the major universities in the world, but I consider that it leaves you something even more precious, which has an impact that will last well beyond university. The IB transforms you into an incredibly well-balanced human being, with an amazing capability for critical thinking and an advanced ability to solve problems. My friends and I now share a set of values that are by far more precious than our diplomas. We became honest, really responsible and accountable, and we also became more sensitive to one another.

Personally, I believe that the IB has equipped me with far more than academic tools. Although it is true that being able to write 2,000-word academic papers for university has been far easier as an IB graduate, I also believe that my ability to network, care for others and make more of my university education has also been an asset that the IB left me. Undoubtedly, the IB Learner Profile does not only stay inside the classroom, or at the school along with the cap and gown, but it transcends. We are knowledgeable but we are not arrogant, we are principled, open-minded, we take risks and we reflect on our mistakes. We are learners by nature, we inquire, we communicate, but we also care. The IB makes us balanced, and that, for me, is what I really value and cherish from my IB years, because I know that those same values shaped me and will continue to define me for the rest of my life.

Julianna Bouso Rodríguez is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Music at the University of British Columbia where she is a Chancellor’s Scholar and an International Scholar. She received her IB Diploma from Instituto Educacional Juan XXIII.