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"I was born in Sogamoso, and I grew up here for almost my whole life; it’s interesting, because I always found myself living with my grandmothers. First, I lived with my grandmother from my dad’s side, and also my great-grandmother, and now I’m living with my mom’s mom, along with my younger brother and my mother. My father lives and works in Bogota. At first he was a teacher, but now he works in an office at a public institution. I enjoy living in Sogamoso, because it is a city rich with art and culture. I have a lot of family here, but I also have family in many other places in Colombia. I’m currently in my last year of University at UPTC, studying foreign languages. Dance, art, and languages are a huge part of my life. While in high school, I was one member of a five-person dance group and often perform dance battles in the streets of Sogamoso.
Growing up, my father would listen to a lot of English music; artists like Michael Jackson, New Kids on the Block, The Beatles, etc were always playing around me. He would sing the songs a lot, and even practice the different dances and choreography for the songs. My father is one of the people responsible for my interest and love for music, dance, and other languages. I have a cousin who is also from Sogamoso named Angela Chaparro Cristancho, who continues to inspire me, she is singer and currently works for a television program called “Yo Me Llamo.”
Even though I’m studying to become a teacher, I haven’t always been interested in this path. When I finished school I was supposed to study fine arts. When I was younger and attending Colegio Integrado, I was never able to picture myself as a teacher. I was a girl who was very shy, had a very small group of friends, and only spoke Spanish. A large part of my growth as a person and path in life is in large part due to my mom and the amazing role model she has been to me. A lot of my personality and traits have been shaped by her. She always wants the best possible future for me, and suggested that I pursue foreign languages instead. Now I am going back to Colegio Integrado often, not as a student, but as a teacher of sorts, to complete projects, events, and presentations for the kids. It’s often surprising even to me that I’m able to speak three languages.
My passion for languages, and learning more about other cultures is what drives me to explore and to continue my education. But one thing that has always remained close to my heart is the culture, languages, and passion that exists all around me already: in Sogamoso. I am proud of where I have come from, and feel empowered by the rich culture I have inside of me. It’s always been important for me to use this culture as motivation to continue learning about other countries, cities, and languages, but at the same time to do my part in sharing my own culture and language at every opportunity I am given. No matter where life takes me in the future, I will always miss the calm, warm atmosphere of my home town."

"Nací en Sogamoso, y he crecido casi toda mi vida aquí; Es interesante, porque siempre resulto viviendo junto a mis abuelas. Primero, viví junto a mi abuela y mi bisabuela por parte de mi papá, y ahora vivo con la madre de mi mamá, junto con mi hermano menor y mi mamá. Mi papá vive y trabaja en Bogotá. Al principio era profesor, pero ahora trabaja en oficina, en una institución pública. Disfruto vivir en Sogamoso, porque es una ciudad rica en arte y cultura. Tengo mucha familia aquí, pero también tengo familia en muchos otros lugares de Colombia. En la actualidad estoy en mi último año de universidad en la UPTC, estudio lenguas extranjeras. El baile, el arte y los idiomas hacen gran parte de mi vida. Mientras estaba en secundaria, fui miembro de un grupo de baile de cinco personas y, con frecuencia, realizaba batallas de baile en las calles de Sogamoso.
Mientras crecía, mi papá escuchaba mucha música en inglés; artistas como Michael Jackson, New Kids on the Block, The Beatles, etc. Su música siempre estuvo a mi alrededor. Él cantaba las canciones un montón, e incluso practicaba los diferentes bailes y coreografías de las canciones. Mi papá es uno de los responsables de mi interés y amor por la música, el baile y otros idiomas. Tengo una prima que es también de Sogamoso, llamada Angela Chaparro Cristancho, que me inspiró y continúa inspirándome de igual manera, ella es cantante y actualmente trabaja para un programa de televisión llamado "Yo Me Llamo”.
Aunque estoy estudiando para ser profesora, no siempre me interesó esta area. Cuando terminé el colegio, se suponía que estudiaría bellas artes. Porque cuando era más joven y asistía al Colegio Integrado, nunca me imaginé siendo profesora. Era una chica muy tímida, tenía un grupo muy pequeño de amigos y solo hablaba español. Gran parte de mi crecimiento como persona y del camino que he seguido en mi vida se debe en su mayoría a mi mamá y al maravilloso ejemplo que ha sido para mí. Buena parte de mi personalidad y características han sido moldeadas por ella. Mi mamá siempre ha querido el mejor futuro posible para mí y fue ella la que me aconsejó que estudiara Lenguas Extranjeras. Ahora, vuelvo a menudo al Colegio Integrado, no como estudiante, sino como profesora, por así decirlo, para hacer proyectos, eventos y presentaciones para los niños. Con frecuencia me sorprendo de que pueda hablar tres idiomas.
Mi pasión por los idiomas, y aprender más sobre otras culturas es lo que me impulsa a explorar y continuar mi educación. Pero una cosa que siempre ha permanecido cerca de mi corazón es la cultura, los idiomas y la pasión que ya existen a mi alrededor: en Sogamoso. Estoy orgullosa de dónde vengo y me siento empoderada por la rica cultura que tengo dentro de mí. Siempre ha sido importante para mí utilizar esta cultura como motivación para seguir aprendiendo sobre otros países, ciudades e idiomas, pero a la vez para hacer mi parte en compartir mi propia cultura e idioma en cada oportunidad que se me brinde. No importa a dónde me lleve la vida en el futuro, siempre extrañaré el ambiente tranquilo y cálido de mi ciudad natal."

- Paula


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