On the morning of September 19, the junior and senior high schools of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in the Philippines opened their doors to welcome 50 Ignatian educators from Asia Pacific into their classrooms. They were participants in the second Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) workshop on the Principle and Foundation of Jesuit Education. They came from Timor-Leste, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
The activity, called Student Accompaniment Program, is a concrete response to the Universal Society’s call to “accompany the youth in the creation of a hope-filled future”. Moreover, true to the spirit of Ignatian Pedagogy, it was also an exercise in empathy with the participants immersing themselves in the students’ context. All through that morning they were led by the high school students assigned to guide them through a typical day in their high school life.
The Student Accompaniment Program was, for many participants, the highlight of the workshop. It was a rare opportunity for these educators to actually sit through the classes we offer our students.
I became a student again,” shared Ling Yun So from Hong Kong. “I experienced that long lost feeling of being a student.”
It’s already been 30 years [since high school] and I became very curious and actually a little bit scared and worried because I found out this morning that there were quizzes and I didn’t know if I was ready to take them!” said Maricar Kristin Panganiban from the Philippines.
The participants were grateful for the meaningful insights they obtained as a result of the activity. Some even considered the experience an eye-opener as an educator even if their contexts may differ from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in some way.
Nevertheless, thanks to our gracious hosts led by the School President, Fr Manny Uy SJ, the workshop treated the participants with a number of other highlights. For one, the opening ceremony was like no other we have ever had in our previous JCAP workshops. We were welcomed with both a joyfully boisterous lion dance and a beautifully moving Sinulog prayer–a wonderful mix of Chinese and Filipino cultures to symbolise the unique mission of our host school.
As in all of our workshops, the participants did a lot of work, not only listening to the inputs of the facilitators, but sharing their personal experiences and insights with their colleagues from other countries.
The workshop was designed to give the participating educators an opportunity to reflect on the history and tradition of Jesuit education, its characteristics, and most particularly, its goal as captured by the so-called 4 Cs (Competence, Conscience, Compassion and Commitment).
But just as important as the formal sessions were the informal conversations among the participants during the breaks and over the meals. Thanks to the schools’ benefactors, we had some pretty special meals as well, starting with the welcome dinner, when we celebrated the birthday of the new Education Delegate for the Chinese Province, Fr Clement Tsui SJ.
As always, each day of the workshop was capped with a Eucharistic Celebration to thank the Lord for the abundance of graces received. Each day we made sure to pray especially for the school community that hosted our workshop and the generous benefactors who made the experience extra special.
What made this workshop very special, however, is that upon the approval of the Chinese Provincial, Fr Stephen Chow SJ, we welcomed a new affiliate school to our network, the Marymount Primary and Secondary Schools in Hong Kong. Also, for the first time, our colleagues from Pakistan requested to join our workshop and their request was graciously granted by JCAP President, Fr Tony Moreno SJ.
At the close of the workshop, the participants were requested to share whatever they learned with their colleagues as they returned to their respective schools. They were also strongly encouraged to keep in touch with one another and to feel free to consult with–and offer assistance to–their colleagues in Asia Pacific. After all, they were able to create many unforgettable memories these last few days and were certainly able to establish new friendships among themselves–and with the students. [JCAP Education]
Watch this video to know what the Ignatian educators have to say about their experience in the Student Accompaniment Program. This video was created by No Budget Productions composed of high school students of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu.
Article originally published in jcapsj.org