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[COLUMN] Youth Speaks

Breaking barriers, building bridges

Written by Robee B. Ng

One hundred and twelve students from all over the world delved into a leap when they decided to study in the Philippines for the 2019-2020 school year, much more in studying in Ateneo de Manila University.

The institution welcomes nearly a hundred exchange students every semester to cater to the foreign students wanting to explore the beauty that is the Philippines. 

“I came here not knowing anything about the country except its beautiful beaches.” Melli Pietschmanm currently taking Development Studies from Germany said. 

She explains her adoration for the country, more so for its beautiful views, but for its unique culture and the hospitable Filipino it hones. As for picking Ateneo, she says it was the obvious choice, with it having a better and more greener environment that the other university she was offered. 

While others also share the same sentiments, they offer the love for the university much more for having such a different organization pattern compared to their home countries. 

Victor Trambouze from France expresses his surprise to find out how much integrated the org culture is in the university and in the life of the students. “In Rennes, we never had anything like this. It’s good, it introduces the students to so many different people.” 

He commends the university for having an organization dedicated to helping the exchange students navigate their life in such a new environment, explaining how it wasn’t as hard for him to adjust, being that ASEC was present to help and that the Philippines is an Enlish speaking country.

While it is good that there is a partner organization in the university that serves as the home organization for these exchange students, the Ateneo Student Exchange Council or ASEC takes pride in making sure that the exchange students or IMs (International Member) as they call it, are fully integrated to the Ateneo and Filipino lifestyle. 

ASEC President, Hannah Co, pushes into making the members of the organization more culturally aware of the lifestyles and cultures of others as well as helping build a more culturally friendly campus in Ateneo. They prioritize intercultural exchange through initiating events and hangouts that welcomingly invite both the local and international members of the organizations, events that prompt communicating with those of different cultures. 

One event they proudly advertise is the Culinary Night wherein everyone in the org can come together through the love of food! Where anyone can bring a dish from different countries that will easily be the medium of interaction. 

The events ASEC hosts calls a far range, from organizing beach trips, parties to little hangouts around Katipunan for the IMs to be reminded they always have people to turn to despite being in a different country.

Will all this in mind, I believe pushing for intercultural exchange within the Ateneo University is not just beneficial to those affected, but to those who have yet to learn what it’s about. 

“These students come to the Philippines, knowing they’ll be travelling a lot. But they come to Ateneo, not knowing what to expect. We hope they leave the university with a standing memory of how friendly and nice the people were that’ll reflect the university.”

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