After serving intensively from the year 2000 as a Founding Director of Unteshwari Sammilitalayam, a Centre for Inclusive Education for Disabled Children in Gujarat – India, to the request of the Myanmar Jesuit Mission I landed in Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar, on 8 September 2016. While being here, as a preparation for the mission insertion, besides learning the local Burmese language, I take special interest to know the past and present life, mission and governance of Our Society of Jesus in Myanmar. Besides living with my Jesuit companions in St. Peter Canisius House – Yangon, I try to know their various current mission involvements, especially in the field of education. Right now we the Jesuits are involved in two urban based and one sub-urban based educational centres which cater to the needs of the poor, middle and the upper middle class youth of Taunggyi and Yangon cities. Three of them, St. Aloysius Gonzaga Institute of Higher Studies (SAG) in Taunggyi city, Campion Institute (CI) in Yangon city, and Oxon at Thingangyun – a slum centre in Yangon under Myanmar Resource Initiative have their own peculiar features in edu-caring their respective students. Amazing to encounter the current mission minded young vibrant Jesuit companions and their committed collaborators to enhance the standard of their students’ life carriers through an intensive integral formation! All these initiatives have had their humble beginnings. How?
Recently I had the opportunity to listen to the humble beginning of the Campion Institute from the Jesuit Founder Director himself who was our honourable guest in our Jesuit community. Though initially he was hesitant, still he shared his aspirations and perspirations of the process with which he went through in founding the Institute. Let me present here below the historical his story as an inspirational source for our mutual Global Learning.
As a Master in Business Administration (MBA), the USA trained young and energetic Jesuit of the Korean Province was commissioned to Myanmar Mission in 2004. While living and moving in the streets of the Yangon city, he shared that he encountered the vulnerability of the young students, both boys and girls, hanging around in the streets, lakes, parks, coffee shops and bus stands, and seeking for a few private tuition centres for proper higher learning. Experiencing the pathetic situation and the longings of the students to learn the communication skills in English language, computer skills and in financial accounting system, he was moved and finally was motivated to answer creatively by setting up the present day Campion Institute with initial 80 students in August 2005 within the campus of St. Augustine church, Yangon.
According to him, in the beginning –
- though a few financially capable students attended, still a few capable economically poor students too were admitted to get formed in this institution.
- the institute was opened to all kinds, types and categories of students without any discrimination, though demanded required eligibility.
- the courses were designed by him with the help of the Cambridge School materials.
- attended to the trainings of students and teachers separately.
- beside him, only three lay collaborators, one each for education, accounting and general administration managed the entire institute with love, mercy and care. All of them were well qualified to conduct the sessions and classes.
- Religious Sisters like Maryknoll (for health sector), Infant Jesus and Columban (for education sector) too assisted him in the formation of students in nursing, English language and personality development.
- the Motto was well formulated to build the capacity of Myanmar youth: “Qualified Teaching with Devotion.”
Today, after returning, though Fr. Lorenzo lives in his home country Korea and serves as an NGO Director of Joy of Sharing, still with Dr. Mark Labuntog, the present lay collaborative Director and Teacher, the Institute continues to build the capacity of Myanmar Youth through her Quality Educational initiatives and involvements. As an Associate Professor of English Language and Literature from Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Philippines, with his deputation he has joined the Myanmar Jesuit Mission to make this institute to a college level accreditation. A sharp and deep person indeed!
Without losing the original spirit of the above mentioned Motto of the Institute, the present team of the Institute works along with Fr. Mark Raper, the current Myanmar Jesuit Mission Superior and the President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific.
Current Actions of Campion
- By regularly upgrading the competency of Teachers and administrative Staff through continuing professional conferences, seminars and workshops – all pertaining to quality education.
- By doing teachers’ performance evaluation and reflection for ongoing quality teaching, testing and caring of students by using currently the New Headway Curriculum with certain adaptations for proper academic learning. Discipline is seen as a highest value in attendance for class and after class hours in the campus. Attendance determines to enter for final exam.
- By following the 5 levels of learning, namely Lower/Beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Upper mediate. With a sensitive heart, the institute has started even with some Special Beginners prior to Beginners stage, which is called as level 0!
- By concentrating everyday on 4 areas, namely, Listening and Speaking, Reading and Building Vocabularies, Grammar, and Writing. Morning classes (each class for 50 minutes): From 8am to 12 noon to the levels 3, 4 & 5. Afternoon classes: From 12 noon to 4.15pm to the levels 0, 1 & 2. The entire year is divided into four quarters: January – March, May – July, August – October and November – December. April is for vacation.
- By providing meaningful and integral educational experiences to the students to be able to engage in their life-long learning.
- By mutual collaboration with other Jesuit educational institutions in Myanmar to empower the Staff through combined retreats and reflections.
- By conducting annual entrance test for Seminarians and other Congregations supporting teachers and students preparing and administering for such a test.
- By providing holistic education to students, teachers and staff by the socio-pastoral and psycho-spiritual care units of the institute.
- By providing a few reflections based reach out programmes to students by a new Ignatian Spirituality Team.
- By enabling its Quality Control Committee to regularly observe, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the vision, mission and objectives of the Campion Institute.
Finally, I must acknowledge with my experiential knowledge that by her mere presence and presentations, this Campion Institute removes the educational darkness and brightens the youngsters of Myanmar with greater hope and confidence. It is possible today because of the humble beginning of our dear unassuming Champion of Campion! Bravo Fr. Lorenzo Yom! Rejoice! God bless you and your adolescent Campion Institute!
Dr. Girish Santiago, SJ