DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Jan. 17 (PIA) -- Filipino-American students from Harvard University are eyeing long-term and sustainable undertakings with stakeholders in the Philippines for the conduct of Harvard Philippine Forum Service Trips in the future.
This was disclosed by officials of Harvard Philippine Forum (HPF) during a Kapihan sa PIA forum where they faced sector representatives in the city and discussed the goals of holding service trips in the country.
“This year, we are hoping that through this service trip, we’ll gather more insights about the issues important to Filipinos and also hear from them on what potential solutions should be. In that way, we can discuss for ourselves how we may take action to help them,” said Marcky Antonio, cultural and external relations director of HPF.
HPF is a fellowship of Filipino, Filipino-Americans, and their friends in the Harvard Community that celebrate Filipino culture.
It provides members a unique Filipino experience in fostering camaraderie and promoting education through its activities under three categories: culture, education, and service.
Every year, HPF sends 15 students to Manila for a service trip to conduct a project of their choosing.
Each project must be sustainable and create a long-lasting impact to the community.
Aside from this, Fil-Am students from Harvard are also given a chance to visit other Philippine sites.
The well-documented service trip was in 2013 where HPF delegates launched a mobile library and carried out a self-expression workshop for street children.
They also had an immersion with children who are physical and sexually abused and were placed in a rehabilitation center in Mindoro.
However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the conduct of these service trips.
Part of the activities this year include meeting with students from Silliman University, traveling to Kalibo, Aklan to witness the Ati-Atihan Festival, and to conduct a medical mission in partnership with another organization.
HPF Public Relations Director Eleanor Wikstrom is hoping to develop lasting partnerships with the agencies they have connected with this year.
“We hope to and expect to have long lasting partnerships with Silliman in the future. In that way, the mentorship program that we are beginning now, we can ensure based on the vitality of this connections and will be able to endure should there be another incredibly destructive force in the future,” Wikstrom said.
Fil-Am students also oriented Filipino students about the American education system and shared tips on how they can study in the United States, particularly in Harvard University.
Kira Traylor, a student taking up history of science and global health and health policy, shared her experience in meeting Filipino students.
“This has been an incredible experience to be able to come outside of the US. It’s very invaluable experience just to be able to meet these students, mentor them, and teach them about our own experiences,” Traylor said.
Aside from the education and service aspect of the trip, Antonio said the organization wants to explore the deeper aspects of the Filipino culture and experience it up close, which is why they included in their itinerary the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)