Actually Roosevelt isn’t all that great a school

When I wrote my anti-pituco article a few days ago, I kept getting comments from an anonymous coward (seriously, if you’re going to comment on this page, use your name otherwise I just don’t take you all that seriously) whose final comment was to say that he “had started funds for poor people” (like a true champion of the oppressed I’m sure), and that he had gone to Roosevelt school in Peru and Harvard in the US (this was to prove that he had gone to better schools than a previous commentator).

Well, this mentioning of Roosevelt school like it’s some kind of sacred institution kind of got my gears spinning. You see, I’ve spent a fair amount of time at Roosevelt school, I’ve met a lot of the teachers who worked there, and although some of them were pretty nice and all, the fact is there’s nothing extremely “special” about them. I mean, they’re all competent high school teachers, but they’re no different than the high school teachers you’d find in just about ANY high school in the US. However, just the fact that they work at Roosevelt and that they end up teaching the sons of all the politicians and other people of importance to Peru seems to give them kind of an attitude which is a little bit strange.

Let me back up.

In my time in Peru there were a couple of suspicions that I cultivated. One of them was that in various institutions of Peru where foreigners tend to be employed (Roosevelt school, the US embassy, etc.) they give a series of seminars warning of other Americans who chose to reside in Peru. The reason I think this is that when you meet these people in social settings, there is a fairly blatant “cold shoulder” that you feel from them.

An example?

Well, I’ve often had the opinion that there is a kind of base/negative perception of a man who marries a Peruvian woman (oddly enough, a woman who marries a Peruvian man is kind of perceived as a folk hero for some reason, but a man who marries a Peruvian woman is just a perverse sexual predator). So, if I were to show up at a social setting with my Peruvian girlfriend (now wife) of many years, these people would kind of smirk into their drinks, and make a couple “knowing” nods while their eyes rolled up into the back of their heads. However, this took place even though HALF of those guys were married to Peruvian women.

In truth, Roosevelt disrespected my wife a couple of different times. I was invited to Roosevelt on one occasion so I took my wife and they just about didn’t let her in at the gate. She had her ID and everything, but they just didn’t want to let her in (it’s the blatant racism you encounter at about two different locations in Lima, 99% of Peruvians aren’t racist but there are a couple dipshits with a tiny bit of money who only take pleasure in screwing other people over).

The security (Roosevelt school has massive security, I suppose because it’s well advertised that the students pay something like $2000 a month to go there so these kids OBVIOUSLY come from parents with money…seriously, it’s kind of dangerous to advertise your net worth like that) eventually did let us in (after what I assume they thought was the appropriate amount of humiliation), but when we discussed the matter there was no apology from the Roosevelt staff…and THAT’S why I would never send MY kids to that school.

You see, when an attitude of superiority is cultivated and even encouraged, you end up sowing the seeds for a lifetime of misery. The fact is, what you DO in life is a far more important measure of who you are as a person than the price of the school your parents sent you to. Still, for some people, getting a piece of paper from Roosevelt is about their grandest achievement, and afterwords they feel entitled to basically the boons of the entire world (and they throw violent temper tantrums when they don’t get them).

So, if you’re a foreign person who has just moved to Lima my advice is that you don’t send your children to Roosevelt. You’ll be paying way to much for an education that will, in the long run, severely harm your child. My advice would be to send your kids to the German school (I think it’s called Humboldt), not because I know anything about it…but if they succeed in teaching your child German then that kid is capable of learning anything!

Maybe one day I’ll go to Lima and establish a school. I guarantee I can conceive of a better one than Roosevelt.

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  1. Anonymous

    I dont get one thing, if they are a minority, and they dont like you, why dont you just stay away? just let them live their worthless lives alone

  2. Pedro Melian

    (continuation of above post by me)

    Also a lot of the security that surrounds Roosevelt is in place in large part due to the insistence of the American Embassy, which has its own set of security and mistreatment issues. With regards to your claim that Roosevelt cultivates an attitude of superiority I could not disagree more. The school as a whole may have the advantage of having a large number of students from wealthy families that allow them to have great infrastructure and facilities but it also allows them to create and maintain a large number of charitable donations, participate in volunteering programs all around the country and contribute in many ways to try and improve the quality of life in Peru. To put one very concrete example of this, I know from personal experience that Roosevelt as a school contributes to volunteer programs at the Puericultorio, participates in Operation Smile, every year has kids go to various public orphanages and retirement homes and help both with their time and money. Not to mention that the school has one of the most multicultural student bodies in the country and strives to foster an environment of respect and openness to people of all cultures. My friends from high school come from almost all corners of the world. Considering all the things I have stated above I don’t believe that your claim that COLEGIO ROOSEVELT is a place that fosters an environment were a sense of superiority is cultivated.

    That the students may be pitucos and carry that attitude is a problem of Peruvian society and their families, that they happen to go to Roosevelt, Humboldt, Newton, Markham, and many other private schools is as simple as saying that good education is expensive and not all people can afford to go to the “better” private schools. I find it somewhat entertaining that you state that another school is better simply because they can teach a language that YOU consider to be difficult.

    To finish off this response I want to state that everyone is entitled to their opinions and I don’t believe that everyone should go to Roosevelt. Different people look for different things, can afford different things, and have different outlooks on what environment their children should develop in. But I disagree with your post that Roosevelt is a school that continues the already bad enough attitude of pitucos. However there is one practice done by Roosevelt and the other schools that I don’t agree with and that is that in order to gain admission into the school you have to be referred by another family who has or had students at Roosevelt, this policy is elitist and I do not approve of it.

  3. Pedro Melian

    Forgive me but my response is long so I will split it into two comments.

    Being a former Colegio Roosevelt student I feel a little offended at some of the comments and opinions you have posted. I do not hold the ultimate truth but I feel I should share my point of view on some of the things you are stating in this article.

    First, when people mention they go to Roosevelt as a symbol of their academic achievement they do so because Roosevelt offers the IB (International Baccalaureate), an internationally recognized program which pushes the students to study at essentially a college/university level before they even get to college or university. While the teachers might not be “special” the structure and preparation they are given at the school prepares them to deliver materials at the same level as other international IB schools. The fact that these teachers (many of them foreign) believe they have some sense of entitlement to be superior or better than others I don’t believe can be attributed to the school but to the people themselves.

    With regards to the incident regarding your wife, it is a terrible thing/attitude that I believe is present not only at Roosevelt but at most of the more prestigious private schools in Lima as well as the rest of the country. I agree that the staff of the school should probably have apologized but the failure to do so does not automatically make Roosevelt a bad school. It is very common to see this mistreatment in Peru and it happens between people of all levels. If you have ever been at a government institution or in a district not considered one of the “posh”, “pituco” areas you will see the same mistreatment from people who have power to those who don’t, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, and or country of origin. Although these comments do not fix the problem nor make it right, I am trying to illustrate that this discrimination, racism and mistreatment is widespread in Peru and felt at all levels, not just at Roosevelt.

  4. Jan Duine

    Moreover, as far as I know: to get your children allowed to ( at least a number of) those schools you don't only need a lót of money, but you also need written support from a number of families who already have children at that school. In that way they probably want to prevent that children not belonging to their "circles" are allowed to enter "their" school.
    Referring to the reaction of "anonymous": one of the things that almost immediately came to my attention the first time I visited Peru: although eighty or more percent of Peruvians have a dark skin, in novelas, etc. only "white" people play the important roles. Dark Peruvians almost only appear as maids, gardeners, etc.
    Despite that we (my (black 🙂 )Peruvian wife, our child and I) are organising our emigration to Peru.

  5. Anonymous

    I hear you!, I am peruvian living in the US married to an american guy. Back in Peru I attended the Recoleta school and I met a lot of pitucos where of course I felt excluded because I was coming from El Rimac (a non pituco zone) and I felt discriminated by them. That was back in the 80's I keep in touch with some of them via FB. Now I am a lawyer from NYU doing my MBA in Columbia and everytime I go to Lima with my husband the same sh%** over and over again, if I am with my husband and friend I feel respected and the doors of the best night club open for us, but if I go alone of with some cousins they discriminate us just because we are dark skin cholas looking, they do not have any idea who I am and how much education I have! Good education in Lima Peru you can get in public schools or public universities and that you can compare with US, but paying over $1000 for a pituco school in Lima with "desubicados" (some of them not the whole population though) is worthless.
    When it will end? Peru is the country where the minority makes feel the majority discriminated, so wrong! I love my country I love my culture but this little situations that I experiment everytime I visit my dear Lima hurts and embarras me!

  6. Ale

    Pedro Melian posted everything I meant to say.

    One thing i disagree is that I come from Markham College and while enlisting, friend references do not count. Students have to take math, science and english exams (real hard ones I would say, as I took them twice). My mother also works on campus, so I can assure you, that at least coming form Markham, its a lie.

  7. gls5000

    So what's the reasonable alternative for a family who wants to send their child(ren) to a school where they can learn at a good level, not be exposed to bad influences, and cement their bilingualism? Something between these elitist, overpriced schools and state schools.

    I wouldn't fancy sending my kids to a state school in the UK, let alone Peru. I used to teach karate to a group of private school kids accompanied by one of their teachers and I found them all to be mature, responsible, confident kids and you could just tell they would do well in their futures; a group of kids from a state school on the other hand is a mixed bag. Sending your kid to a state school is leaving their future open to fate, they might turn out well, they might not.

    $2000 a month seems like a ridiculous fee. What's that, $20,000 per academic year? Most private schools in the UK are about $30,000 a year including boarding and I'd be willing to bet they are 10 times better than Roosevelt (I have had the opportunity to witness the activities at the private school in my hometown and frankly it's amazing and state-school education doesn't come near it).

  8. Pyotr Katzer

    First off, tuition at FDR is about $10,000 per year. Still expensive, but compared to the average IB school in Europe or Asia, it's less than half of the average cost. Look it up.

    Secondly, to say there's 'nothing special' about teachers at FDR really begs the question; What school has truly special teachers? I've worked at 5 schools in my life, and spent a fair amount of time at dozens more all across the globe. Nowhere have I found a school where I would say 'all these teachers are all really special'. Teachers are just people. Some are good, some are bad.

    I find the original post here quite inconsistent in its attacks on superior attitudes, while making rather snide generalizations about the aptitude of a faculty that number well over one hundred, and a student body of about 1300. Perhaps this might be a shock to the author, but FDR is basically the same as private international schools all over the world. They cater to rich kids. They are exclusionary. They are staffed by human being of various abilities and backgrounds. These are the facts.

    Sounds like the author just had a bad day and needed a target to vent upon. I'm guessing his teachers weren't all that special either. That's too bad, but the smell of sour grapes was just too much for me to leave this one alone.

  9. Anonymous

    Why wont you post my comments?
    GO PACK GO! Undefeated this season

  10. Anonymous

    I am an FDR grad also. And you make some strong arguments, however, I do wonder why you are so intent on criticizing this one school out of the other "elitist" institutions in Lima. I agree that there is a noted discrimination between different classes, because of what you look like, or where you buy your clothes and where you go out, etc. I don't care much for those people or those opinions, and just because I went to Roosevelt doesn't make me nor pretentious nor a snob nor a bad person.
    If you what you're against is the snobbish feel of the families and the Peruvians that work there, then why don't you criticize the policies that the elite Clubs in Lima like Regatas, or Real Country Lima, Golf Los Incas? Or the people who organize Aura and Gotica that give one look at the person and feel like they would damage the image of the club?
    If what you disapprove of is this snobbery then I would go public and start criticizing every moneysucking, pretencious, snobbish institution in Lima.
    Roosevelt may be the most expensive school in Lima but it is not the only place where your kids can grow up to be (excuse my french) class A assholes. The factors involved in the molding a person's mentality go beyond what is taught in school. In my opinion it is also influenced by how the parents raise the child, how they (the parents) share their ideals with them, and how the child chooses to deal with the society he/she lives in.
    Only a child/teen/adult with a strong sense of who he/she is, with their ideals in order and half a brain won't let petty little comments about who you're dating, or how much money you're parents make, affect them, what they do, who is part of their "circle" or any aspect of that life.
    I went to that school, I am a member of Club Regatas and I live in La Molina. All those decisions were made by my parents. Now I take a combi. And I've gone to Barranco at night to clubs that most people from any private school probably wouldn't go to, but I had fun each and everytime because I didn't care for anything else other to have a good time. I have friends from FDR who might have just as much money as the next embassy kid, but that doesn't make them mean nor bad people. If you disagree with the policies, the superior attitude, the snobbery, the money, that's fine, everyone can speak their mind, as I am now, but I don't think it's fair, at least in my opinion, to assume that everyone out of that school believe they own the world, then I don't think you've met the world yet.

  11. JeanMichael

    I can't believe you base your judgement based on a few incidents that occured.

    First, it is important to state who didn't let your wife in and why. Was it the guards or a school spokesperson? If its the guards, I believe there is little room for racism there because they are just doing their jobs. The wh is also important. Where you going there impromptu, or for a specific event. Was it an inivte only event? where you invited? was your wife invited? A normal person can't just walk in to any school and hope to get in unless there is some specific reaosn. If the purpose was to visit the school, you usually have to get an appointment first.

    Second, the security is not there because students pay 11k a year, but because the embassy has in place tight protocols to prevent Kids from being in danger. I believe security has no price and it is better to be safe than sorry. If you have children you would agree.

    Third, being from Roosevelt prepares you well, and, I would say better, than most other schools to get into college in Peru, the USa Europe or any other part in the world as many of my friends can attest. The education is superior, not only because of the curriculum but because (although you might not agree) the teachers are international teachers that travel around the world, educating in different situations, getting to know different cultures and practices as well as different kinds of people. When you teach in a multicultural school this is important. You can't compare that to a teacher that has taught all his or her life in the same school Nevada, Califronia or New york.

    Fourth, the price you pay for Roosevelt is totally worth it, not only because of the education you get but for the intangibles at the school.

    The facilities are probably the best of any school in Peru, the sports education programs are among the best, the arts programs including music, theater and art are highly regarded. In short if you want to be a musician, an artist, an actor, a soccer player or a businessman, Roosevelt will not hinder your development, but encourage it, as many of my friends can also attest to, since they have followed these different paths. Last but not least, being in a school surrounded by a community that includes succesful families, businessmen or politicians, should not be seen as a fault but as an opportunity. It is an opportunoity to know some of the greatest minds/people/businesses in Peruvian society. To be able to give your school an opporutnity like that is much more important than the actual paper from Roosevelt.

    In addition, if it is still a question of high education costs, in the future, the contacts that you or your children make there might pay off much more than the 11k you spent in one year.

  12. Pedro

    Well, I live in Brazil now, but I've spent some time in Lima and studied in FDR. I'm in college nowadays, but FDR is better than any school here. Superb infra-structure, and the teachers respect their students.

    Many friends from Brazil went for an exchange program, and they said the level of education they received in the States is far worse from the school we were in. Now, if American schools (in general) are worse than the school I've studied here, and this same school is worse than FDR, how can you say FDR has the same level of education as most American schools?

    Maybe you've gone to top tier schools in the US, I don't know. But FDR is definitely not an ordinary school and, in my opinion, it is worth every penny you put in it. One of the best years of my life, academic-wise.

  13. Anonymous

    Im a Roosevelt grad and I agree with you.

    The racism and feeling of superiority is obvious in that school. I did not experience it first hand but it can be seen in campus and not only from security.

    As far as faculty goes, I also agree that the teachers in that school are not special at all. I feel that most of the kids from that school never ventured out of the rich roosevelt community and the fact that they were in roosevelt made them think they were "all that" in Lima. I had the luck to meet a lot of teachers and students from other schools such as Humboldt, Newton, san silvestre and Markham and in my honest opinion although roosevelt lives up to the level of other schools, it isn't really that special.

    The problem with the school is that it is driven by the ego and arrogance of its students and teachers. Its not a bad school but people from that school fail to look at anything beyond that small money driven community.

    And no, not everyone that talks down on roosevelt is an angry grad or teacher. I go to the college I wanted to go to I can say that roosevelt was not the main reason that I got accepted.

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