August 15 2015, was a very special day: not only did I stop attending Los Cerros but also, together with my parents and siblings, we left the country to move to Canada (Winnipeg-Manitoba).Collateral to the nostalgia for family and friends, in me went the uncertainty of a new country, which we had already visited, but it was different to go to "put down roots there".
My preparation and experiences in school were my "weapons" to face a new school environment, which, thank God, I managed to overcome. Since graduating from Los Cerros, I set out to be a person who was not afraid to speak in front of anyone. At the moment, I am in my first semester, doing my Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Manitoba (Canada).
When I entered the university, I didn't know anyone. After the first week, I met many people in classes, events, parties, and volunteered to help people with cystic fibrosis; and that's when fourth-year students told me to think about running for freshman president of the School of Management. Based on my experience as a student representative in Los Cerros, I made inquiries and, even though my parents said I should concentrate solely on my studies, I applied, with the disadvantage that no one knew who I was.
I started by collecting 50 signatures in order to run for President. At the beginning, it was difficult; but, in the end, I made it. My strategy was to be friendly with people and be myself, saying that I was a Representative in my school and that I had some experience, although that did not give me points because the other candidates had also been Presidents in their respective schools. I decided, then, to contact the Presidents of previous years and ask what they had done and what they thought I should improve. I created some giant banners (design credits go to my uncle Alejandro Recio, a Los Cerros alumnus) to put around the University and printed cards that I left in different spaces or handed out personally when I talked to each student.
Then, just as in Los Cerros, I decided that I was going to take the risk of speaking in classrooms for a minute, say who I was and what I believed in. This was not at all easy as many first semester classes have 150-250 students. Similarly, another strategy was to use social media: I started with Twitter, as in Canada students keep in constant interaction with this network and my tweet pitching myself for the Presidency was a success, as it was seen by 13,300 people, thanks to other students "Retweeting" and liking my nomination. However, I have no idea how I got so lucky that so many students found out about me.
After two very stressful weeks, where I studied absolutely nothing and just spent my time campaigning, meeting students and talking to them one by one, election day arrived. In the end, I couldn't contain my joy when I found out that I had won with 64% of the votes among the five candidates.
Being elected president made me face something different from what I had experienced in the school, since I had to constitute my own committee, for which I invited people to register and present themselves for an interview (in charge of another person and myself) for the ten positions of the committee. It was an interesting experience to be on the other side of the table and to be the one asking the questions and making the choices.
Over the course of the year, I am in charge of putting on different events for the students, such as lectures, social events and so on in order to raise funds for charities. This year we decided that we are going to work with a refugee organization, mostly from Syria. One of the events we are working on at the moment, together with the faculty and the general chair of the faculty of management, is a Christmas party on December 22, and it has been going very well. We are only three days in and we have sold 1800 tickets: the goal is to sell all 3000.
Being president has been the best decision, I have met many people, I have created many connections with entrepreneurs and companies that help us sponsor events. Every day I learn more about being a leader and having the ability to delegate tasks and set an example of commitment and responsibility.
To all Los Cerros students I have many things to tell you, among them that it is very important to take advantage of extracurricular activities. Please get involved in activities outside of the classroom. A very simple example is to be part of a team in any sport. But don't stop there, try to get involved in more events: the community service that each of you perform is very important for societies in countries like the United States or Canada. Like the C.A.S., do volunteer work that really has an impact on the community, and be sure that it will be a valuable experience that will teach you the importance of volunteering with true commitment and responsibility. Also, for example, I suggest that you participate in the Model United Nations, as these are activities that enrich you and help you identify your strengths and recognize your weaknesses to turn them into strengths.
Make the most of the opportunities that Los Cerros offers you and keep in mind that, later in life, the quality of education that the school offers its students is truly an excellent letter of introduction.
A big hug.
By Felipe Andrés García Recio