More than forty students from Japan, Korea and the Philippines have taken part in an international learning programme at Trinity University of Asia in Quezon City in the Philippines organised by CUAC – the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, a world-wide network of Anglican colleges and universities.
For two weeks the students, from Rikkyo University, St. Luke’s International University and St. Margaret’s Junior College in Japan, Sungkunghoe University in South Korea along with students from Easter College, and Trinity University of Asia in the the Philippines joined together to engage in community service.
Based on the concept of linking the classroom with the larger world, the International Service Learning Programme aims for academic enhancement, personal growth, civic, and social learning; it is not only the community who benefits from the program but also the students who learn from everything they do in the community.
This programme develops the students’ sense of responsibility and their leadership skills as they work hands-on in the community with their groups. The programme also encourages expanded appreciation of diversity – sharing each other’s culture, beliefs, and ideas.
This year’s programme coincided wtih a visit to the Philippines of the Presiding Bishop of the US based Episcopal Church, Michael Curry and all the students attended a keynote address he gave on campus. The University’s President, Dr. Wilfred Tiu, in his welcome remarks, stressed that most of the members of CUAC Asia Chapter can trace their roots to their founding churches who had their roots from the Episcopal church in the United States.
Student reactions to the programme were many and varied, but all stressed how meaningful it was in their own lives.
Miyuki Nishiuma, from Rikkyo University in Tokyo, said that: “I learned that it is important to see the real circumstance in my own eyes. I changed my stereotype by joining this program. I was surprised that the people in the barangay (local neighborhood) are so kind.”
"I take picture with Barangay Tatalon children. I want to take picture with guys but they run away from me. I tried to get close to them. Finally I take a picture with guys." -Ilsik Jo Student of Sungkonghoe University, Korea
Natsumi, also from Rikkyo University said “I learned the importance of smiling. I can’t understand Tagalog but I can communicate with children in the community with smiling. I noticed espressing my feeling is very important all over the world.”
"We (The Pikachu Group) teaching or sharing about having a healthy lifestyle to the people specufically the parents at Barangay Tatalon. Our group did very well because we had teamwork and also the parents are listening well and actively participating activities we prepare for them." -Neil Christian Lloyd Vila Student, Trinity University
Alfonso Pelea, a student of Trinity University, wrote: “At first we wondered that Service Learning was just about simply offering help to the people in the community, but when we started the programme we realised that it is not just about offering service but is a great opportunity for everyone to gain friends, treasured moments, ultimate experience, but the most important thing is that we place God in the centre of what we are doing. Our group believes that it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as our hearts are in the right place and we put ourselves in the shoes of others to have better relationships with the people in the community and the international students.”
“I took a picture of children hugging me from my perspective. When we visit Barnagay Tatalon, people always welcome to us. I'm so happy. The smiles of children are so cute and heal us very much. Children gave me energy. I want to communicate with them more.” –Miyuki Nishiuma, student of Rikkyo Unviersity, Japan
Herbert Donovan III, who teaches at Rikkyo University and is currently serving as head of CUAC’s Asia Chapter summed up the encounter: “This third CUAC Asia Chapter Service Learning programme really was a chance to sustain the roots of our cooperative efforts to develop service learning among Anglican/Episcopal schools in Asia. We will do this again next year in February, and we hope to invite representatives and students from other NE Asian schools that could not join this year, such as those in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as a few more in Japan, and even possibly from CUAC schools further afield. Trinity is a wonderfully located and staffed host for these programmes and their ability to integrate visiting students with their very mature and diverse outreach to their local community is very valuable. We also intend to hold our next Asia Chapter meeting at Trinity next year, coinciding with the programme, so that representatives of the schools can see this valuable work and be encouraged to continue and expand it.”
“This is the photo that shows the parents who live the community in Tatalon. I was surprised at that appearance they has a serious look on their face. However, that was great time I thought.” - Nozomi Ando, Rikkyo University