The AITP Kamakura experience began with John Gilles warmly welcoming the participants to the workshop. He is Riverview’s Director of Religious Formation and the head facilitator of the Australian team conducting AITP (Advanced Ignatian Teacher Program) workshop.
“One foot in the air,” Gus quoted Fr. Ross Jones SJ, President of St. Ignatius Riverview. Gus is Riverview’s Adult Formation Co-Coordinator, and to this metaphor, he offered this image for what all students in a Jesuit school–and teachers–should aspire to be: contemplatives-in-action. One foot on the ground, another in the air–always on a journey to serve God. He added in his talk on Jesuit education: “A burning fire in the heart.” This was also one of the primary aims of this workshop. Over twenty Ignatian educators from five countries congregated in Juniso Retreat House in Kamakura, Japan for five days of reflection and sharing about Ignatian pedagogy.
Already on its eighth year, the AITP has been conducted alternately in Sydney, Kamakura, and Macau with administrators and teachers coming from different Jesuit schools in Asia Pacific. As in previous workshops, this year’s participants were provided many opportunities to get to know their colleagues, learn about one another’s diverse contexts but grow in appreciation of their shared mission in Jesuit education.
The experience was an opportunity to expand horizons. In the module on ICT, Angela treated the participants to an array of possible tools that they can use to embed technology into their teaching and learning. The inputs were meant to provoke the participants into reflection on their own practice, and to share their experiences and insights with their colleagues in Asia Pacific. Aside from sharing about their experiences and challenges in Ignatian learning and teaching, the participants are also introduced to Riverview’s highly successful “Companions Program,” where veteran Ignatian teachers take new teachers under their wings and mentor them.
Sally, Deputy Principal of Staff Services, shared the Riverview experience of the Companion Program, which invites teachers to accompany one another in the spirit of cura personalis. During their role play, the novice companions got to practice the art of “speaking little, but listening much.”
One high point of the workshop was the sharing of experiences of participants from Indonesia and Hong Kong. The presentations elicited remarkably audible “ooohs” and “aahs” from the audience signifying not only their interest but agreement as well. Each presentation also led to vigorous discussions of educational challenges and issues shared across countries and cultures.
The participants were also treated to a campus tour, as well as classroom observations, at Eiko Gakuen, a Jesuit high school in Kamakura, which is also one of the top ten high schools of Japan. They were given a glimpse of the school’s new–still unfinished–building for classrooms.
Even more interesting were the classroom observations, where they freely mingled with students during Physics, English, and Chemistry classes, chatting with the students and asking them about their life.
One unexpected highlight of the workshop was the barbecue that followed the Commissioning Mass. Everyone got involved in the cooking–and the results were fantastic! This was certainly NOT a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth. And the barbecue was just the prelude to a party that lasted for hours…
On the last day, Ms. Jennie Hickey, Education Delegate for Australia, and Fr. Johnny Go SJ, Education Coordinator for Asia Pacific, each made a presentation to remind the participants of the broader picture of Jesuit education. Jennie compared the work of Jesuit education to the sowing of seeds. Fr. Go reminded the participants that they were all part of something greater. During their evaluation, the participants gave the workshop and the team a unanimous thumbs up. Thanks to Fr. Lee for hosting the workshop, and to Jennie and the St. Ignatius Riverview team (composed of John, Gus, Sally, and Angela) for their great work!
Here’s a video of a performance on a traditional Japanese instrument from a student of Eiko Gakuen who sings a song about Okinawa.
Source: JCAP Education News