My first studies were in philosophy at the University of Chile, but those were complex times. The dictatorship in Chile meant that it wasn’t possible to study philosophy without being involved in the counter dictatorship movement, so I was excluded from the university and I had to move to Sweden, were I spent almost four years.
Once back in Chile, in 1992, I started my studies in history at the Universidad Católica de Chile, where I also studied pedagogy. I then completed a Master’s degree in politics at the same university and started to work in the Ministry of Education of Chile as a policy maker on curricular issues.
Because of my job at the Ministry I felt it necessity to specialise further in education and I started to look for universities and programmes that would fit my needs. Very soon my eyes turned to Canada (OISE-Toronto), USA (NYU) and UK (Bristol, Cambridge and the Institute of Education) which seemed to have the best and most interesting programmes. Finally, I decided on the UK because the scope of educational studies covered there more closely matched my own views on the subject.
I applied to the three universities and finally decided to go to the University of Bristol (UoB) - I don’t regret. I was then hesitating between two programs at Bristol. One was on international education and the other was more linked with policy management in education. I had started the application process when I received a letter from the UoB telling me that two MEd programmes has being fused in one that then was called “educational leadership, policy and development”. Great, the two fused programme were those of educational policy management and international education; my problem was solved.
I decide on this programme because it gave me the opportunity to synthesise my experiences as a policy maker with an understanding of educational problems which could help me to improve the educational system in Chile.
Many factors were involved in my decision to attend UoB. First of all, the good reputation of the university in the field of education. When I started my search of universities in the UK, Bristol always appears as one of the top institutions in education. The university is very friendly and the city with its location at the gates of the south-west countryside was a deciding factor for me. I’m a history teacher, and the history of UK has always been interesting to me. So it was a good opportunity to match my professional development with my personal interests.
Academically speaking, the UoB was full of top professionals with amazing production in the area of education. It has strong links with the reality of education in other countries, especially Asia and Africa with their particular challenges, problems and successes.
My memories of Bristol are of a human scale but vibrant city. I know that it has its problems as any city in the world, but, is friendly, beautiful, warm and the people are great. I had the opportunity to know people from there and not just international students. My best friends were British people, if not exactly from Bristol, from the south-west country. I had the opportunity to get know the city with them, we went to see matches of the Bristol City Football Club, and Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate Stadium. We also used to go to pubs to drink a pint of beer and hear good local music at the Tobacco Factory, Tantric Jazz and the Grain Barge.
At the end of my stay in Bristol, I was almost a local of the Coopers Arms pub in Southville. I would say to other international students that they should try to get to know British people, not just in university, but also the local people where they live in Bristol. It is the best way to really know the best of the UK. Bristol also has beautiful architecture, parks surrounded by the river Avon and the possibility to play many sports and enjoy nature. Many other times we would go to the countryside around the city. Its location is amazing, very near to the Cotswold hills but my favourite destination was always Somerset and Cornwall.
All the courses on the MEd were outstanding, but, there were two courses with which I was very impressed. One was in Educational Improvement with Elizabeth Macnees and Sally Thomas. The other was the course in Transformative Learning with Ruth Deakin-Krik in the first term. She taught us to go deep inside our own motivations in education. I am very grateful to Sally and Ruth for their guidance and support. But maybe the most important person was Bridgette Blackmore, the secretary of the programme. She was a permanent support from the beginning, when I first started to write asking for information, then, when I arrived there and I need a lot of support to find a place to live, and then all through my courses. She was, and still is, really great.
After my studies at the University of Bristol many doors opened for me. The reputation of the university helped me become involved with many projects; in the Ministry of Education of my country and as an consultant with international organisations.
But, most remarkable for me was when I realised that many of the academic experiences that I had at Bristol were influencing my work. Everything that I studied and leant there gave me the skills to face and deal with the problems of education in my country and in the countries of the region. When I came back to Chile I was involved in the construction of the national learning standards and the new curriculum. That was a great job and meant a big jump in the improvement of Chilean educational quality. Sadly, the current government has deleted many of the efforts from those years.
I have worked in Ecuador as an advisor in curricular policies. Until March of this year, I worked as Content Manager at Educarchile.cl, the Chilean educational website, at Santiago de Chile, then I moved to Brazil where I am starting a new challenge in my professional development as an educational international consultant, and also a new family project with my wife.
In my dreams, I hope to return to Bristol to do my EdD or PhD in education. But now, I am preparing myself to be involved in the Brazilian challenge for educational improvement. There is a opportunity for me to help, with all the experience that I have accumulated through my years as an educational policy maker, and I want to take it, and if it is possible, to make a difference here in Brazil.