Ateneo Development Field School Returns to onsite operations
04 Aug 2023 | Geordine Claire Aguilar, Olivia Mary Gypsy Webb, Mary Anjannette Santos, Annah Marie Montejo, Antonella Mae Sampang, Asmitha Senthil Velavan Ambika Devi, and Swarna Soma Sundram Radha Rajeswari
After a three-year hiatus, the Ateneo Development Field School (ADFS) returned in 2023 and this edition involved a collaboration with the Gawad Kalinga (GK) St Joseph community in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, and GK Ateneo. Comprising seven vibrant female students from Ateneo and Lady Doak College in India, Team Banyuhay embarked on a month-long project under the stewardship of Dr Mark Anthony D Abenir, an associate professor of the Development Studies Program. Their project, “Akay sa Paglakbay: A Participatory Action Research in Strengthening the Youth and Kapitbahayan Governance of GK St Joseph,” sought to fortify community relations and youth involvement in GK St Joseph. The project exemplifies the blending of research and practice in Community Development.
Team Banyuhay consisted of five students from Ateneo and two from Lady Doak College, India. Representing Ateneo were Geordine Claire Aguilar, Olivia Mary Gypsy Webb, Mary Anjannette Santos - all Development Studies students - along with Annah Marie Montejo, a Psychology student, and Antonella Mae Sampang, an Economics student. The international contingent from India included Asmitha Senthil Velavan Ambika Devi and Swarna Soma Sundram Radha Rajeswari, both studying English Literature.
Ateneo Development Field School 2023
The ADFS program spanned four weeks, from June 19 until July 14, 2023, and began with a week of classroom-based learning. This foundational period included lectures and discussions that revolved around understanding the GK St Joseph community's context, the fundamentals of participatory action research, innovation management, and community development. To prepare the students for their hands-on interaction with the community, workshops focusing on empathic listening were also conducted by Mr Frednick Asistio of UGAT Foundation, Inc.
Having armed themselves with this preparatory knowledge, the students, guided by Dr Abenir, spent the next two weeks residing in the GK St Joseph community from June 27 until July 9, 2023. Their immersion involved living with host families, conducting house-to-house interviews, and organizing participatory action assessments with various community sectors. They also implemented small community development interventions and participated in activities such as house-building, bonding sessions, and various interactions with the community members.
GK St Josesph Kapitbahayan representatives visited Ateneo last July 14, 2023 for the culminating event of the ADFS program. The students presented their research results and their Digital Impact Story. They also put forward recommendations for enhancing the welfare of the different stakeholders and sectors within the GK St Joseph community.
Gawad Kalinga St Joseph
Since its establishment in 2013, Gawad Kalinga (GK) St. Joseph, which is located in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, serves as a home to over 120 families. During the application process, every resident contributes to sweat equity through house building and then undergoes values formation to nurture social responsibility. This creates a sense of ownership and solidarity among the community members, as they follow a Kasunduan outlining the community's rules and regulations.
As a developing community, GK St Joseph strives for unity and collective growth. Therefore, the students designed interventions to address long-term development needs. For the Kapitbahayan, the intervention focused on modifying and ratifying the Kasunduan to ensure order, shared values, and inclusivity. Modifications were proposed to various initiatives, including the Community Store and Block Cleaning, to encourage active participation among members.
For the youth organization, the intervention aimed to shape organizational identity through the formulation of vision and mission statements. By providing a sense of purpose and direction, the youth are poised to make meaningful contributions to the community's progress.
Overall, the Ateneo Development Field School and GK St Joseph aspire for a progressive and empowered community, where individuals work hand in hand to break the cycle of poverty and build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and society.
Other Ateneo Development Field School 2023 Photos:
Photos courtesy of Team Banyuhay
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