First United States educational exchanges info session concludes in Naga City
By Abegail Bazar & Adrian Bitara
(Rotaract Club of Ateneo de Naga University)
With the aim of promoting development opportunities and scholarships, the 1st United States Educational Exchanges Information Session was concluded in Naga City through the collaboration of various organizations and was attended by more than 50 young active citizens and community leaders on February 24, 2023.
The said Info Session was spearheaded by the Bicolano Young Leaders Initiatives (BYLI) together with the Ateneo Student Ambassador, Naga City Junior Jaycees, Rotaract Club of Ateneo de Naga University, and the United States Embassy in the Philippines through Hiraya Manawari: Ateneo Open House 2023.
The program commenced with an opening ceremony at Xavier Hall, Ateneo de Naga University. Hon. Elmer S. Baldemoro, City Councilor of Naga, delivered the welcome remarks and acknowledged the guest speakers and panelists of the Info Session. It was followed by the session of the first speaker, Ms. Eren Joy Bautista, Public Engagement Specialist of the United States Embassy in the Philippines. She discussed the opportunities for the youth and young professionals in Naga City regarding US programs and exchanges that they may apply for in the future. Ms. Bautista shared about the scholarship grants offered by Fulbright and conveyed that Fulbright Philippines is partnered with the Commission on Higher Education and other government agencies to support research and development studies abroad.
“The United States Department believes that investing in human capital development is a pillar of work and has helped the partnership with the Philippines,” she added.
After the first session, there was a panel discussion. The speakers were alumni of US programs and exchanges in Naga City. Mr. James Nathaniel Refugio, YSEALI Alumnus, Regional Workshops, Grants, and Summit; Mr. Jefson Felix, YSEALI Alumnus, Academic Fellow; Ms. Leciel Ramos, YSEALI Alumna, Professional Fellow; and Ms. Kristiana Embate, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants Alumna, shared their knowledge and experiences as part of US programs and activities.
The sharing was done through presentations, vlogs, and testimonies. An open forum was held after the series of talks. “There are a lot of opportunities nowadays, and it is up to you (the young leaders of Naga City) whether you grab them or not,” emphasized Ms. Baustista as she closed the question and answer portion.
Nicol De Jesus, a student leader and youth advocate in Naga City, shared his experience with the information session. “The personal testimonies of our plenary speakers provided us with many AHA moments, inspiring us to strive for the best that we can be, but doing so requires authenticity, passion, and determination,” he said.
The last part of the program was the awarding of certificates to the speaker and panelists and a photo opportunity for the participants. The hosts concluded the event by applauding the organizers as well as the guest speaker, panelists, and participants who joined the event to help young leaders develop their full potential through the development opportunities discussed.