In August 2015 I received an email inviting me to a conference in Malate, Manila. The email was from Fo Guang College, a performing arts school that offers a scholarship program to the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. Apparently they have been resourceful enough to locate Guidance Counselors from secondary schools in Mindanao. I would have loved to go. Who wouldn’t? The college offered to take care of the participants’ airfare and accommodation in Manila. Unfortunately I had prior engagements and so I sent a colleague to represent our school instead.
Ms. Beverly Hieb was a Values Education Teacher in the public secondary school where I worked as Career Coach.
When she came back from the conference, I asked her how it went and you wouldn’t believe how passionate she was in sharing her experiences at the temple. “I never imagined such a school could exist in our country,” she told me, her eyes twinkling with excitement as she spoke. Ms. Hieb and I went to the same Jesuit University in the city but according to her, never in her entire life has she seen a school so technologically advanced and immaculately clean at the same time but what struck her most was how disciplined, courteous and nice the students were. “You won’t hear students shouting or see them running along the corridors, like you would in public schools. They would hold the door for you and even offer to carry your things.”
The students Ms. Hieb met were in their 2nd year in college, the very 1st batch of students to graduate from Fo Guang in 2018. They have only been there for two years but Ms. Hieb said it’s amazing how much they have learned. They prepared the Power Point presentations used during the conference, the program and even the meals served to guests. Life Education is part of their curriculum.
Fo Guang College is the fifth member of Fo Guang Shan International Consortium. As a pioneer in Humanistic Buddhism in the Philippines, the college is “open to students of all faiths willing to learn and to mutually respect one another’s custom, culture, and religion.” In addition to providing only the highest quality of humanistic education, it is also committed to giving its students the kind of experiences that would lead towards their total development as socially responsible and accountable professionals for societal transformation.
Fo Guang College’s Core Values: Diligence, Tolerance, Creativity and Innovation.
VISIT TO BUKIDNON
I had the privilege of meeting the College President, Dr. Helen V. Correa, during their visit to our school in April. They came to conduct a free summer workshop in Dance and Theater to incoming Senior High School students and out-of-school youth in the municipality of Quezon as part of their community extension services program.
It was also part of the college’s advocacy to promote the Three Acts of Goodness. With her was Venerable Master Miao Xin, the college’s Director for Life Education. It was then that I learned that Fo Guang College’s curriculum is 50% academics and 50% life education which means that addition to learning the core subjects and Mandarin (yes, they need to learn Mandarin), they are taught proper ways to care for their clothes, their living spaces, to prepare food for themselves and for guests, to interact with people from different walks of life, to care for the environment and the community.
Before the workshop began, Dr. Correa talked to the students as well as the parents and teachers who came to learn more about the college.
In her speech she addressed the questions that obviously lingered in people’s minds when they learn that FGC is a Buddhist school. Dr. Correa, a devout Catholic and was raised in a hardcore Catholic family, assured her audience that the college does not in anyway convert students to Buddhism and shared that her practicing of Buddhism as a way of life even made her a better Catholic.
The School’s Vision: To become a global humanistic education leader for the learners’ holistic development and societal transformation.
The School’s Mission: To make a learner-centered, globally competent Humanistic Education available to deserving students with a sense of responsibility and accountability for human and social change.
WHAT AWAITS STUDENTS AT FGC
Students who qualify for the scholarship program at Fo Guang College are entitled to:
- Free tuition and miscellaneous
- Free board and lodging
- Free school uniform and footwear
- Local and international educational trips
Requirements for application
- Report Card Form 138 (High School General Average of at least 85% – Third Year and Fourth Year)
- National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE)
- Recommendation from the High School Principal (sealed)
- Birth Certificate (NSO authenticated copy)
- Income Tax Return (annual family income: P150,000.00 and below)
- 3 copies of 2×2 ID photo
For Academic Year 2016-2017, classes at Fo Guang College begin in August 2016 and since they are not having new High School graduates this year, they are opening their doors to college drop-outs who are into performing arts and are interested to pursue their college education. For those in Mindanao, especially places near Bukidnon, Application Forms are available at the Guidance Office of Quezon National High School in Mibando, Quezon, Bukidnon. You may also turn in your requirements to the School Counselor on or before June 30, 2016. If we can come up with a substantial number of applicants, representatives from the college can come back to administer the admission test, conduct the audition and the interview.
I have been in the Public School System for about seven years now and still, I see how the implementation of positive approach to student discipline remains to be a challenge in the classroom. If there is one thing I love about Fo Guang College is their ability to discipline without raising their voices. “Nobody raises his voice in the campus,” shares Dr. Correa. How then do you discipline your students, I asked. She said all they do is talk, talk, talk and talk to the erring student. Now, isn’t that interesting? I want to learn how to do that not only to my own kids but to the students in our school as well.
Summer vacation is almost over but there is still one more month to prepare. If you have friends who dropped out of college and is from Mindanao or anywhere near Bukidnon, here is a wonderful opportunity to acquire world class humanistic education and for them to develop their talents in the performing arts. You are most welcome to leave your comments or questions in the comments section below and I promise to get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for reading this far and I do hope you would help share the word. Have a very blessed and wonderful life!
Photo credits: Ms. Beverly E. Hieb