Xavier School (XS) has been exposed to different cultural backgrounds knowing that the school was established by Jesuit missionaries (mostly Spanish and French Canadian) who were expelled from China and continued their ministry to the Chinese-Filipinos in the country during the 1950’s. The school takes pride in its Chinese-Filipino heritage. Moreover, it continues to broaden its mission for Integration – “to build a bridge between the Chinese Filipinos and the Filipinos: to be a center of dialogue between the Christian and non-Christian faith, and the Filipino, Chinese, and western cultural traditions—hence, to serve as an instrument for the integration of the Chinese-Filipino into the life of the Filipino nation.” (About Xavier School)
In light of the school’s mission, the Campus Ministry & Service Office (CMSO) and the Christian Living Education (CLE) have regularly collaborated and designed an integrative approach to the holistic formation of its students. CMSO focuses on the social (hand) dimension of formation; while CLE, the subject I’m teaching, highlights the intellectual (head) and affective (heart) aspect. The former provides a concrete experience and action (service-interaction), while the latter reinforces them in class as both an academic lesson and authentic assessment (reflection paper or performance task).
Voila! The pandemic came and it has stunned the world – not only economically, but all other important dimensions as well. Certainly, the pandemic has posed a new challenge most especially in the field of education. It has challenged Xavier School (XS) in reimagining its thrust in forming its students to be ‘persons for others’ despite the limitations of the online environment. We have continually asked, “Can we still provide a proper venue for authentic service-interaction and concretize solidarity online?” This challenge might be quite taxing, however it also led to discovering new frontiers in online learning. Last November 2020, CMSO tried its pilot program that aims to promote interreligious dialogue with other Jesuit schools online. We partnered with Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) senior high school students who are Muslims and non-Catholic Christians. The service-interaction was divided into two parts. The first part was a keynote address, which was given by Fr. Bert Alejo, SJ, to provide a situationer (context) of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue in the Philippines. The second part was a breakout session per section/class where XS and ADZU students would have the opportunity to engage in a meaningful dialogue on faith and culture. This program was our humble attempt to respond to the invitation of GC 34.
Months before the service-interaction took place, the CLE department redesigned its curriculum to respond to the new demands of online learning without sacrificing the subject’s key knowledge, skills, and values that are very much relevant this time of the pandemic. We were aided by the Ignatian process of discernment in sifting through the core principles of the Catholic faith – that resulted in a simple yet meaningful structure of SELF-GOD-OTHERS. Before engaging oneself in a dialogue and understand the worldviews of others, one has to understand his/her worldview and be immersed in God’s worldview first.
The fruit of our team collaboration and conversations has produced this course outline of G11 CLE:
- Dialogue with the Self (Understanding My Personal Worldview),
- Dialogue with God (Rediscovering the Ignatian Worldview), and
- Dialogue with Others (Expanding the Church’s Worldview).
As Xavier School begins another academic year this June 2021, what I will be bringing with me are the fruits of professional conversations here at educatemagis.org. I would like to highlight how truly grateful I am to benefit from the Global Citizenship Course of this online community. The course gave me some key ideas in redesigning our online curriculum. I hope our school’s humble attempt in integrating ‘Interculturality’ would give others an inspiration to start or continue in creating a more inclusive society.
“Each of us are called to be learners as well as teachers, engaged in the crucial activity of civil discourse for further understanding. In acknowledging that all are created in the image of God, Jesuit education should strive to give equal opportunities for all to participate equitably towards their holistic development. Diversity and difference are gifts to be celebrated in order to create an inclusive society. God is the loving creator of all things, and in God we find our commonality and solidarity.” (A Living Tradition 236)