When people ask me how I got a volunteer’s heart, I look back to the days I spent in summer when I was a kid. When I was ten years old, I started a summer enrichment program for Math and English subjects at our house. It started out as a support for my younger sister and three younger cousins who had some problems in their school works at that time. The neighbors heard about the summer classes and so they enrolled their kids too. Before the summer ended, I had more than ten students in the class.
This activity went on for every summer until I was a high school student. My three high school friends supported me in the cause. The local public school principal allowed us to use their classrooms for our summer classes. At that time, our regular attendance was about 25 to 30 students every meeting. For all those years that I did the summer program, I and my friends did not receive any fees from the students. Reflecting on it now, it felt good to help out the community in a very specific and relevant way.
I transferred to Iligan City when I went to college and I volunteered in a student center which was a locally run project under the Compassion Philippines child-sponsorship program. I taught as an alternative learning teacher every Saturday to teenagers belonging to financially-challenged families. Looking back at my college days, my Saturdays were spent most of the time at the student center and even on some weekdays when I had to prepare lessons and reports for the center. After college, I went to work as a computer education teacher at the MSU-IIT Integrated Developmental School.
I moved to Manila when I took my masters’ degree in Information Technology at the De La Salle University (DLSU). During the thesis writing phase, I worked at the research lab called the DLSU Center for IT for Development (CITe4D) from 2010 to 2012. The research lab deals on the role of ICT in developmental issues, culture and good governance. My study focused on the peacebuilding efforts and the nature of armed conflict in Lanao del Norte. During the course of the study, I observed peace dialogues and interviewed peace advocates in Iligan City. I also reviewed and studied recorded dialogues and identified the participatory practices that were employed in the process. I was also exposed to the thriving peace civil society groups and networks in Lanao del Norte.
After graduating from DLSU, I returned to Iligan City and became a high school teacher once again. At the same time, I became a secretary for the Institute for Development in Mindanao (IPDM). During my stay at IPDM, I have been involved in creative peacebuilding projects such as the Mindanao Peace Film Festival, Postcards for Peace, and the Mindanao peace paintings.
Currently, I am community leader for a group of teachers in Iligan City. I and my co-teachers provide capacity building seminars in the use of technology in the classroom. I also organized a gathering of teachers called Teachers’ Fair last October 19, 2014. It was a fun day of learning for the teachers. Lastly, I run this blog to provide support for teachers in the digital age and also as a resource for community leaders like me who run the same educator groups supported by Google Philippines.
Looking back now, I think my efforts as a ten-year old teacher has reached this far.