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on 09 July 2015
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Stonyhurst Southville International School’s Face to Faith Activity, a program in partnership with the Tony Blair Foundation, had kicked off the school year, with the successful conduct of two video conferences across the country only within 2 weeks since classes began.

Face to Faith is a program where students get to interact with other school in the country and around the world; and works across the world delivering a pioneering education programme to help prevent religious conflict and extremism. It helps students embrace an open-minded approach to others, to diversity and to difference that can lead to tolerant stable societies.

The 1st Face to Faith Video Conferencing (VC) happened last June 22, 2015 with 3 other schools in the Philippines – St. Paul in Balayan, Ateneo Cagayan De Oro, and Science & Technology in Cebu; while the second VC was conducted last July 2, 2015 where students interacted with Xavier School in Manila, Ateneo De Cebu, Ateneo De Davao and Holy Cross of Calinan in Davao.  Both sessions discussed what being a Filipino is.

Ms. Pinky Cupino, Face to Faith facilitator, only had good words to say:

“The students who participated did a very good job discussing their lives in relation to Filipino identity. I could tell that the students enjoyed dialoguing with one another and learned a great deal from each other. 

The students first talked about the qualities and characteristics of being Filipino in terms of being friendly, adaptable, strong in the face of adversity, happy, proud of rich culture, good citizens, strong faith, a mix of cultures, helpful of each other in terms of calamities, resilient, strong sense of nationalism, having a spirit of solidarity (bayanihan), and hospitable.  The influences to these characteristics are family, educational system, community, faith, challenges particularly in times of calamities, history of colonization, forebears across generations, and the four Ms - being Christ-centered, people-centered, environment-friendly, and nationalist.  Filipinos celebrate their national identity by speaking the language, eating Filipino food, playing Filipino games, celebrating festivities in school and in the community, showing respect, and belonging to groups to understand the Filipino culture better.  Rich discussions ensued through the questions among students that included reflecting Filipino identity despite the K-12 curriculum, the role of religion in molding the Filipino, and how half-Filipinos embrace the Filipino identity. 

In the end, a student from Holy Cross reflected on the similarities and differences of Filipinos, noting that being a Filipino is not about belonging to a race or a religion but embracing the mix of Filipino cultures.  A student from Stonyhurst said that Filipinos do not set boundaries but accept different values and change that push forward development and together, create a rich culture.  A student from Xavier who is half-Chinese said that "I grew up in the country and learned to become a Filipino".  From Ateneo de Davao, a student said that, "the hymns of my heart sings one song -we are Filipinos and are proud to be!". 

The video conference showed that students are able to share information about their lives, opinions and beliefs in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reciprocity, trust and curiosity. The dialogue moves significantly beyond sharing and telling to being enquiry-led with students asking one another questions that lead to a deeper understanding of what is being discussed.”

The Face to Faith Video Conferences have indeed produced fruitful discussions and insights.  In the next months, students of SSIS Malarayat will be exposed to other schools abroad and dialogue about other interesting topics, as we interact with more diverse cultures.  Quant je puis!

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