GSE Yr 11 Philippine Immersion
“You should never feel guilty for living in a country like Australia. You should feel guilty for not being grateful and not willing to make a change for others.”
The Principal of the Good Samaritan Kinder School, Sister Leonie, said this to us one day while we ate lunch at the school in Bacolod, on the island of Negros in the Philippines. We were in the middle of our Year 11 Good Samaritan Education Immersion Experience – sixteen students from seven schools and four teachers had embarked on this journey with the intention of immersing ourselves in a new culture and learning new things about our world and ourselves.
We began the experience with mass at the Concepcion parish in rural Bacolod, which was an immediate and jolting introduction to life in the ‘sugarcane capital’ of the Philippines. We were introduced to a community of outstanding hospitality, and quickly understood why Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles. The Good Samaritan Kinder School, our main location, was everything we could have hoped it to be, and better. The four to six-year-olds who came to the school each day were the happiest and most energetic children, who made it impossible to wipe the smiles off our faces. Credit goes completely to the most devoted staff who nurture the children and prepare them so well for primary school.
We were consistently treated to unbelievable hospitality, completely challenging our preconceptions that the people in such communities have nothing – they have their families, their faith and their selflessness, which struck a chord with us students and made us truly realise the importance of being grateful and open-minded. This was especially poignant when we visited a slum community, known as The Boulevard, to distribute food to the children who live there. Again, the smiles and happiness we experienced were unlike any other place I have seen. Overall, it was an emotional and completely fulfilling experience, which opened our eyes to a new world and has undoubtedly been the catalyst for personal change and consideration of our privilege and ability to change the world.
Mount St Benedict College