• Study grants, return service initiatives: Some lessons



    Part 1
    WITH the dawning consciousness of graduate students to go global, some in my classes would ask how they can avail of scholarships to experience what it is like to study overseas. Besides giving them pointers, I stress to them that they are expected by the awarding body to render some return service initiatives of socio-cultural value to their communities.

    Although there’s no lack of information on study grants in the web, some students may not have unlimited access to the internet save for their research requirements. Given the school’s limited internet services, the brief lunch break leaves them little time to surf. They also need more know how to mine the web for the needed information and for expanding their social capital as well.

    As I stress to them, study grants place on their shoulders the responsibility, as a condition for the award, to share their experiences for the good not only of oneself but of the wider community. Return service for a grant gives them the opportunity to contribute ideas and actions related to their experience upon their return to their home communities.

    Our discussion then will be how one obtains a study grant aside from through the usual web search and, in return, create initiatives to share one’s offshore experience and be successful. This brings me back to how I landed in a postgraduate staff development in higher education course at Kassel Universitat, a German Foundation for International Development (DSE) grant which covered all basic expenses—fare, hotel, food insurance, school fees and supplies. DSE stands for Deutsche Stiftung fur Internationale Eintwicklung. Merged with other German agencies/foundations in 2011, the composite is now the German Corporation for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), or GIZ, a company that specializes in international development. Please refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ InWEnt.

    How did I get the scholarship? I informed them that it was an outcome of my visit to the DSE headquarters in Bonn. I made the visit while on a week’s holiday from courses at Surrey University, UK, where I was taking a course in staff development (SD) for teachers in higher education. Fortunately, there was time for some light conversation with the DSE Director. After my return home from my UK studies, I found time for regular SD practice. I corresponded with the DSE Director on academic matters our school was up to. A decade later, in my annual letter to friends in the profession, the DSE Director included, I wrote about the SD that we did not only in the school but with regional mass training. On learning from my letter that I was still practicing SD during the past years, the Director offered me a scholarship for an SD course at Kassel Universitat which was to take place in less than a year’s time. I took the course and through another friend I met during my stay at Kassel, had other study visits thereafter and another sponsored course at George Augustus years later. One’s social circle could widen as one nurtures these relationships through corresponding with them on common interests and what’s up from their and our part of the world.

    Drawing initiatives from opportunities
    A convergence of events provided the opportunity to share the fruits of that exposure. In 2011, we had anew official in the university, who I learned had a certificate in the teaching of German as a second language. As the then Graduate School Dean, I had him teach a weekend class on the German language, having received firsthand info from friends in Berlin about healthcare needs in Germany and B-1 language requirement for a regular contract. It was a welcome elective to the nursing students. That same year, the Department of Education issued a memorandum encouraging schools to offer foreign language classes from Grades9 of the K-12 curriculum. With the university board chair’s blessings, an initiative was born—the offering in SY 2011 of German language and culture from Grades 9 to stretch to senior high.

    In 2012, with sustained support from the Goethe Institut Philippinen, the university board and Liceo’s high school principal and teachers, Liceo’s high school became officially a PASCH school Partner for the Future or Schulen der Zukunft)—one of three PASCH schools in the Philippines and of the 1,800 worldwide network of PASCH schools. A colleague in our embassy in Berlin helped in many ways to advance our cause for the PASCH project. This schoolyear, nearly a thousand Grades 9 to 11 students, besides 60 or so in collegiate and graduate school, are enrolled in German language at Liceo. German language teachers and students are generously sponsored annually for language and culture immersion in Germany and in other cross-border activities. Besides visits to German industries, this initiative brought a variety of attractive instructional paraphernalia—state-of-the-art digital presentation, textbooks, posters, giveaways and a fully furnished language teaching room.

    From this bio-narrative, we draw some lessons: One, don’t wait for opportunities. Create them. Two, there’s no free ride. Pursuing a vision needs sustained effort. No ningas cogon. Three, to ride alone is lonely. Invite colleagues to share the ride. Four, recognize their efforts. No vainglory. Don’t claim success as your own. Take reasonable pride in the accomplishments of colleagues and staff. You stand tall in your success because you sit on their shoulders. Five, nurture your social capital. Don’t dilly-dally with emails. Not the least, pray that your boss supports and shares the same vision.

    The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and graduate studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).



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