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Inside the Philippines

  • Washington College students explore the island.
    Washington College students explore the island.
    Paige Guarino ’18
  • Fishing boats in the harbor.
    Fishing boats in the harbor.
    Paige Guarino ’18
February 08, 2018

Nine students interned this summer with a variety of non-governmental organizations in Manila, Philippines.

Bayanihan, a word in the Filipino language, expresses the power of community. Washington College took a giant step in building the collective strength of global community through its association with the Bayanihan Internship Program. Based in Manila, Philippines, the program places students with grassroots organizations working to combat poverty, empower women, improve educational opportunities, and other worthy endeavors in that Southeast Asian country.

The nine students in the Bayanihan Internship Program this summer worked for a variety of organizations addressing everything from disaster risk management and climate change adaption to peace building and religious unity. The wide array of missions offered were based on students’ personal academic interests.

Tahir Shad, the associate professor of political science and international studies who facilitates the program, finds hands-on experience in a developing environment to be key. “The unique aspect of [this program] is that it is in the developing world, so you can really see the challenges of development and poverty… you actually have to see it to get a good grasp of it.”

“Poverty was very visually prevalent, so I had a lot of encounters with people asking for money, and having to step over homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk,” notes Liz Rafala ’18, a triple major in economics, history and international studies who was placed with the Assistance and Cooperation for Resilience and Development Inc.

“The goal of any liberal arts education is to cultivate the ability to think critically. While the classes offered at Washington College are important to building the skills necessary for critical thought, the end goal of a liberal arts education cannot be achieved solely within the confines of a college campus,” says Nicholas Gottemoller’20, a political science major. He completed his internship with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, and worked to promote one of the organization’s initiatives called CheckMySchool (CMS).

“CMS is a civic initiative that mobilizes communities to engage in participatory activities that help in school improvement… in short, CMS seeks to hold community leaders and government officials accountable by making sure that funds are being spent appropriately and that problems within public education are addressed,” explains Gottemoller.

Paige Guarino ’18, a political science major placed with Sacred Springs: Dialogue Institute of Spirituality and Sustainability, echoes her peers in her reflection of her time in the Philippines. “This Bayanihan Program was so much more than a summer internship; it was a life experience, both personally and professionally.”

— Emily Holt ’19

Last modified on Feb. 8th, 2018 at 3:35pm by Marcia Landskroener.