An enriching journey that spanned three European countries and transcended cultural boundaries marked the successful Project FORTH Erasmus+ final dissemination and culmination for the University of Saint La Salle (USLS) Cluster. The five-day study tour and final dissemination was a successful conclusion to this transformative initiative, leaving an indelible impact on the participating universities and stakeholders involved, particularly on the 11-member delegation from the University of Saint La Salle and partner Department of Education schools.
University of Saint La Salle Cluster: A Beacon of Transformative Christian Education
The USLS Cluster attended the final dissemination and culmination assembly which commenced in three host universities in Europe on November 1 and concluded on November 5, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. Joining the USLS FORTH Cluster was Brother President and Chancellor Joaquin Severino Martinez, FSC, who attended the opening ceremonies and study tour in Bilbao, Spain, along with four cluster members bound for Bilbao, namely Dr. Ricver Ureta, Dean of the USLS College of Education; USLS faculty members Dr. Sheila Uy and Ms. Hazel Atilano; and Mr. Jien Omar Mendoza, representing the Department of Education Alternative Learning System (DepEd ALS). Four Cluster members attended the opening at Groningen University in The Netherlands, namely Dr. Cynthia Dy and Mr. June Carl Seran of USLS and Ms. Cristina Mayo and Mr. DG Mark Arrey of DepEd ALS. Two represented the USLS Cluster at the opening at Bologna University in Bologna, Italy, namely Dr. Ma. Xenia Guanzon and Dr. Ana Rosa Carmona.
Initial meetings and study tours commenced in the host European universities: Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain; Groningen University in The Netherlands; and Bologna University in Bologna, Italy. The USLS Cluster participated in school visits in challenged areas in Bilbao, Groningen, and Bologna, which involved interactions with teachers and learners in socio-economically-deprived communities. The USLS FORTH Team gained valuable insights not only on the challenges faced by teachers and learners in the community, but also their best practices, which proved very enriching for the Team whose mission is to bring transformative education to the challenged areas in the Philippines.
Celebrating Unity in Diversity: Journeying Together Towards the Same Destination
The final dissemination in Europe was a grand celebration of the collective achievements of the USLS FORTH Cluster and the transformative power of cross-cultural collaboration with partner universities. The general assembly in Brussels, Belgium on November 4 to 5, 2022 for the Transnational Management Meeting involved a sharing of action research findings and innovations, as well as a discussion of curriculum framing for the Masters Degree Program for Teaching in the Challenged Areas (MAEd TCA). Furthermore, the cluster institutions presented contextualized modules supporting the project, exemplifying how the program graduates are projected to serve as teachers and respond to the identified needs in the challenged areas.
The meeting in Brussels was, indeed, a great opportunity for open discussions and sharing of experiences that can be incorporated into the MAEd TCA curriculum, including the best practices and innovations from the action research undertaken by the USLS Cluster.
Impact on the USLS Cluster: Nurturing Resilient Global Educators
Project FORTH’s profound impact on the USLS Cluster is nothing short of life-changing. Apart from gaining a deeper understanding of different cultural contexts and challenges, it expanded their horizons and developed in them a heightened sense of empathy and open-mindedness. The project instilled in them the values of collaboration, cooperation, and the importance of being resilient global educators.
USLS faculty members and DepEd partners involved in the project expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to exchange best practices with their Philippine partner universities, as well as with their international partners. They lauded the project's emphasis on collaborative and collegial learning community and its potential to enhance the academic landscape within their institutions.
Project FORTH Erasmus+ final dissemination in Europe was a grand celebration of cultural diversity, international collaboration, and teacher empowerment. It brought to the fore the incredible power of education to build bridges between nations, fostering a world where differences are embraced, and mutual understanding prevails. As the participants departed to return to their respective academic communities, they carry with them valuable knowledge and wisdom that will equip them for the noble task at hand-- that of preparing teachers to teach in the challenged areas in the Philippines.
The transformative journey of Project FORTH has left an indelible mark on the hearts of the USLS Cluster, igniting a passion for transformative education and inspiring a generation of teachers committed to providing quality education to the last, the lost, and the least.