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Renato Barrientos

Translated from French​

"I am Renato, originally from Peru. At the age of three, I arrived in Quebec right in the middle of a snowstorm. It's a day I will always remember. As we got off the plane, my mother exclaimed, 'What is this place?' I was wrapped in a coat like a little polar bear because my grandmother used to tell us, 'It's cold over there! There are igloos.' In the past, people abroad had this perception, fuelled by images broadcast in Peru. I don't really have a Spanish accent because my parents integrated themselves and lived in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

My journey has been unconventional and explosive. After secondary school, I found myself uncertain, like many young people. I went to various Cégeps: Dawson, Maisonneuve, Vieux-Montréal, and finally, Cégep de Rosemont. Later, I met my wife, Catherine. She has always encouraged me, saying, 'You need to do something. You need to try.' So, I decided to explore academic possibilities. I chose sociology which led me to discover my passion for teaching. Then, I pursued a bachelor's degree at the Université de Montréal. I took a break due to my wife's pregnancy, and then I resumed my studies. I also taught in special classes for about three years. I am a helpful person who enjoys making jokes while working. In short, I consider myself a great comedian. I believe that's what made the students and staff appreciate my approach and personality.

Afterwards, I pursued training in construction and worked as a sprinkler fitter for 4-5 months. However, I quickly realized that it wasn't the right fit for me, especially due to the hazards and intense physical demands involved. During the pandemic, I made the decision to return to studies and become a licensed practical nurse at the École des métiers des Faubourgs-de-Montréal. Studying during COVID was a special experience. Everything was condensed and online, making concentration difficult. I remember a course that dealt with interactions with children. I had an assessment where I had to demonstrate how to administer medication to a child, so I used my daughter's doll. My teacher evaluated my approach and caring attitude towards the child, imagining it as a real person. We also had practical exercises with mannequins. During the internships, we had the opportunity to work with real patients, which was a completely different experience. Our group, initially consisting of 30 students, went down to six by the end. Although people might think that a DEP (Diplôme d'études professionnelles) is easy, the reality is quite different. Compared to my university experience, a DEP as an auxiliary nurse required a much heavier workload in terms of knowledge to be memorized and constant questions asked by the teachers. I think in the future, I'd like to try teaching my profession to those who want to become nurses, but I'll let life surprise me.

One of the most important beings in my life is my dog. (Laughs!) No, that's not true! It's Catherine. Before meeting her, I was somewhat lost. When she came into my life, everything started to make more sense. She truly helped me go further. My parents were always there, but Catherine had a positive impact on my life, giving me a sense of security. To this day, we get along as well as we did in the beginning, and we continue to support each other.

When I give my all and see patients feeling heard, leaving my room with a smile, I think to myself, 'Oh my God, I did a good job.' I have no regrets or negative thoughts when I finish my day, having accomplished my work properly. I love making the people around me laugh and smile, including my children. Every day, I see them grow as I get older. It is often said that healthcare professions teach us a lot about being human. Sometimes, we can lose sight of that 'human' aspect, but it's something I'd like to preserve in the long term."

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