Clara Sáez Calabuig - Geneva, Switzerland

Clara Sáez Calabuig completed the IB Career-related Programme (CP) at the International School of Geneva, Switzerland, in 2017. As part of her studies she received the BTEC Art and Design qualification, ran many successful service projects, and gained a high A for her reflective project alongside three IB Diploma Programme (DP) courses as part of her CP education. She is now a student at the University of Arts London.

Clara SaezWhy did you originally decide to pursue the IB Career-related Programme?

As a student who had been most of her life in the Spanish education system, moving countries was already a big enough challenge. Moving to an English-speaking school seemed scary and challenging at the beginning, as I wasn’t confident in my English. I didn’t know what the IB was or the differences between the CP and DP, so I had to look into that to make an informed decision. As I read the prospectus, I understood that the CP was the best option for me. I was certain that I wanted to apply for an art or design-related course, therefore, the number of hours spent on art and design and the possibility to choose two to four suitable subjects seemed like a gift to me. I chose English literature, French and film which ended up being a perfect combination of subjects.

"All that I have learnt from literature, language, film, art and design has made me a more open-minded and creative individual."

This mixture of art-related subjects has expanded my understanding of creativity and has reinforced my opinion on the power of art in any of its forms as a form of brain food and an escape from reality. All that I have learnt from literature, language, film, art and design has made me a more open-minded and creative individual. The courses I took pushed me towards a more analytical, semiotic, conceptual field of graphic design in my work on my current foundation course.

Which IB teacher inspired you the most?

All of my IB teachers were inspirational in their own way, but there are two which have definitely shaped the individual that I am today and which I will remember for years to come. Lola Robledo, who is the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Spanish teacher, didn’t teach me but I had the pleasure to meet her during my first days at school and the connection was immediate. Her activism and engagement with the local and global community are a source of inspiration for me.

Throughout the two years that I was at the International School of Geneva, she brought many inspirational people to school which we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for her. She invited the founders of “Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo” (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo) movement from Argentina, and Araceli and Angelines Ruiz, Spanish twins who fled Spain due to the Spanish Civil War and lived in Russia for many years. We also met Irene Villa, who at the age of 12, lost both of her legs in a terrorist attack in Madrid. These people’s hardships and inspiring testimonies were eye-opening and changed the way I view the world and life.

I’d also like to mention Julian Parry, my art teacher, who pushed me to be more experimental and risk-taking in my approach to art and design. His motivation and enthusiasm in everything he does and his ability to draw upon student’s strengths has made him one of those teachers that I will always remember. My lack of confidence in English at the beginning of the course made it challenging for me, yet he was always supportive of my abilities and challenged me to increase my potential as a creative individual.

"Education is important in forming opinions, defending your own rights and fighting for whatever you believe in, so enjoy your school years and learn as much as you can, because that will make you a free person."

How did you reach where you are today?

I am currently studying a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the University of the Arts London and have just applied for my bachelor’s courses in graphic design. My experience at the International School of Geneva has taught me that whatever seems too hard to accomplish can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. I started the IB barely being able to speak English and filling up pages upon pages in my literature books with definitions of words in English and translations to Spanish. I ended up getting a grade 6 in my higher-level English literature course and a double distinction in art and design. I am a firm believer that grades do not determine your success as a student, but are a personal reward for all the hard work and determination. They are a source of personal gratification and pride in oneself.

What advice do you have for current IB students?

My advice to current students of the IB programmes would be not to undervalue any subjects just because you think you won’t use that knowledge in your future career. Any knowledge that you acquire in school is valuable and will stay in a corner of your brain for years. Education is important in forming opinions, defending your own rights and fighting for whatever you believe in, so enjoy your school years and learn as much as you can, because that will make you a free person.