PATIKUL, Sulu: Gov. Abdusakur “Totoh” Tan 2nd of Sulu congratulated the six Tausug high school students who passed the rigid screening of the American Field Study (AFS) Management Staff to be among the exchange students to the United States under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program.
The exchange students who made it to the roster of qualified candidates are Fatimatuzzahra Alfad-Abdulmajid, Firash Zyed Ututalum, Jianazen Hapas, and Khaizer Jawari from the Sulu State College Laboratory High School and Aisa Dammang and Ahda Sangkula from the Notre Dame of Jolo for Girls. They have left Sulu for the US last month via Narita, Japan en route to Washington, D.C. where they spent several days for tours before they flew to their respective host states. They are expected to return to the Philippines in July 2014.
The exchange students were chosen from among the hundreds of applicants who went through rigid regional and national screening conducted by the AFS Program Management Staff.
As part of the screening to select the qualified candidates, written and oral interviews were conducted including a battery of psychological tests.
During their courtesy visit to the governor, the exchange students were deeply impressed by the youth, vigor and idealism of the young Chief Executive of the province.
Tan wished the students the best in their journey and offered prayers for their success. He also assured them of his unwavering support to better the quality of education in the Province of Sulu.
“I am very much aware that education is a priority area in the development of the quality of our human capital in Sulu. Fatima, Firash, Jianazen, Khaizer, Aisa and Ahda are role models of today’s Tausug youth,” Tan emphasized.
“The opportunity of education and experience awarded to these students was earned thru exemplary performance and hard work. This is the kind of mindset and level of quality of human resources that we should be aiming for,” he added.
The Sulu governor reminded the parents, teachers, and students that education gives a chance to be better individuals, better parents and better Tausugs, essential in molding a better future for the province of Sulu.
The exchange students will stay with their respective host parents for one school year and will be hosted in different states in the US. They will also become students in different host high schools in their host state.
The aim of the program is for mutual cultural understanding between Americans and Muslim Filipinos. Tausug students are expected to share their culture with their host parents, school, state and country while also learning the American culture.
Upon their return to their home province in Sulu, the exchange students are expected to voluntarily and actively get involved with the affairs and programs of their community and share their learning experience to their peers.
The AFS program has been in existence since 1914 and will be celebrating its centennial next year, 2014.
Sulu State College Laboratory High School has been sending students under the Kennedy–Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (KL-YES) since 2009.
As of 2013, the school has sent a number of students to Japan and the United States, each becoming Ambassadors of their province and country and in return, each one of them bringing wonderful experiences.