The End of Program (EOP) Workshop hosted last November 16-19 by World Learning and the U.S. Department of State for Global Undergraduate Exchange students took place in Washington, D.C. During this year’s EOP, Christine Grace Catindig, the only Fall 2016 Global UGrad scholar from the Philippines gave a speech on behalf of her 121 fellow scholars at the opening program.
A blessed evening to all of you! I’m Christine Grace, a Communication student at University of the Philippines and Utica College, New York, and it’s a pleasure to be one of the student speakers this evening.
Even my most heartfelt words cannot express how thankful I am to the representatives of the U.S. Department of State and World Learning Team for guiding us. Perhaps, it is too often that we, students, progress through life that we forget to invest time in expressing our gratitude to you, our mentors, who consistently guide us through our journey despite our doubts and fears so thank you so much. You’ve changed not only our lives but the course of the future.
Now, before I share my experience, I’d like to have you guys do something for me please. To those of you who have a birthdate that’s an odd number, stand up and do this (brings hands in front, maintaining distance from each other). To those who have a birthdate that’s an even number, stand up and do this (places hands in the center).
Now, smile like you’re having the best time of your life.
Let me take your picture!
Now, please take your seats and I’d like to thank you because now I can go back to the Philippines, show this picture, and tell them that I got a standing ovation here in Washington D.C.
I’m just kidding. But the reason why I did that is to point out how there are times in life when what really matters is not what we see but how we see things.
As wonderful as it has been to be given the opportunity to study in the U.S. as the only Filipino scholar this year [this semester], I saw it at first as an intimidating and scary thing. However, time came when I chose to change how I saw it by taking it on as a challenge because, like you, my desire to learn, make an impact, and experience the difference was bigger than my fear to fail.
The past months have been incredibly rewarding. If I were to summarize it all, I’d say that the Global UGrad program has helped me do three things: learn, unlearn, and relearn.
First, it was able to help me learn what it’s like to have a global perspective. When I got elected as an officer of the International Students Organization at UC and do my fieldwork as a pre-service teacher at New York Mills elementary to 17 students with and without learning disabilities, I was able to confirm that U.S. is a melting pot of a place where diverse cultures meet – something we all know very well by now.
By the same token, when I got accepted as a marketing intern of the social service organization United Way and film intern at Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters and experienced what it’s actually like to work with people with different cultural backgrounds, I learned that the very essence of the Global UGrad program is the acquisition of empathy, which Senator Fulbright once described as the ability to see the world as how others see it for it allows for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see so that we can erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against each other.
Second, I was able to unlearn my youthful misconception that the only way I can succeed in life is to do well in academics and in my jobs. I used to ignore things in the background and was caged in my bubble where all I ever cared for was to do well academically and professionally. Global UGrad gave me a unique taste of learning and helped me realize that there is more to life than being an academic or a work giant. Human relations, values, and skills are far more important. These are the things I have proven to be true when I [have] explored New York, made connections on campus and off campus, where I volunteered in a Senior Dining Center, where I’ve met a Fulbright scholar who gave me a glimpse of how amazing it is to be an alumnus or alumna of a scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State, and Redeemer Christian Church, where I was able to do camera work and get involved in the community while doing what I love most.
Lastly, I was able to relearn what it means to be a young individual in today’s society, where we should not let anyone look down on us because we are young because, as what 1 Timothy 4:12 says that, as young as we are, we can “set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
At the end of the day, if we use our skills to perform, our knowledge to inform, and our values to transform, it will not only be our families, universities, and friends who will be proud of us but those whose lives we have helped become better so I dare you to make your last month in the U.S. count and to stay in your country after this program not just because it’s required but because you’re willing to wait until you make a significant impact before you leave again.
And who knows maybe one day we can get that humbling standing ovation that will confirm that we really are making an impact on a global level?
Grace Catindig is a senior Communication student from the University of the Philippines-Baguio. She is the first Filipino Global Undergraduate scholar to leave for the U.S. from the 2016-2017 batch. She is currently studying at Utica College, New York and will return to the Philippines before the end of this month (December).