On the 8th of August, 70 student leaders gathered in the Sophia University Junior College Hadano campus as a start of the Ignatian Student Leadership Forum 2018 (ISLF 2018) from August 8-13, 2018. The ISLF is a unique leadership experience for students from Jesuit schools in the Asia Pacific, particularly representing 19 high schools from Indonesia, Philippines, East Timor, Micronesia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Japan. The student leaders gathered together to be exposed to this year’s ISLF theme: “Beyond the Border”- a theme that challenged the student leaders to go beyond their comfort zones as they interacted with people with varying cultures and languages.
The Philippine delegation is composed of 16 SHS students from four schools (ateneo de manila, Ateneo de Naga, Ateneo de Ilo-ilo and Xavier University) with two chaperones Fr. Joseph Haw (Ateneo de Ilo-ilo President) and Dr. Remy Renegado of the Ateneo de Naga. XU sent 4 G12 students:
- Wyonna Chezska B Alvarez, Grade12-STEM
- Sherisse Kate U Cezar, Grade12-ABM
- Gertrude Angeli M Sajulla, Grade 12-ABM
- Kaye Danielle Terese V Sorronda, Grade 12-ABM
The participants were exposed to various activities that allowed them to be immersed to the culture and customs of Japan. One highlight in the ISLF was the immersion to various places coupled with talks regarding different world issues such as War, Migration, and Ecology. After the participants were introduced to the topics, they were then divided into three groups according to the world issue that they have chosen. Before travelling to their destinations, talks were given by guest speakers to give the participants a deeper understanding of their chosen world issue from primary sources. One of these was Mr. Lee, a Japanese-Korean who experienced the Nuclear Bomb Explosion in Hiroshima during the Cold War first-hand.
During the immersion, the War group ventured to different war museums in Tokyo and cemeteries that honor the fallen Japanese soldiers to immerse in the history of Japan and the life of the Japanese soldiers and citizens during the World War II. As for the Ecology group, they paid a visit to Kirakira-boshi Net, a voluntary support group for the victims of the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear power plant explosion. They were given the opportunity to interact with the victims, learn about their experiences, their current way of living, and their views on nuclear power use in Japan. The Migrant group toured around the more secluded parts of Hadano and took a long walk towards the area where the migrants lived. They came to discover how there is only one route to and from the train that leads to the main city and the area in which the elder migrants who are residing in Japan live. They were also introduced to the one of the people who spearheads a program that envisions to provide education in terms of the Japanese language to those migrant parents in order for them to be able to communicate better with their children who are natives to the Japanese language unlike them. To reflect more and synthesize their learnings, the migrant group then had a chance to share their thoughts at the Hadano Church. There, they interacted with migrants, particularly students, as they shared the challenges and struggles they have encountered as they attune themselves to living in Japan, away from their own homes.
Another highlight of the event was the Cultural Night. During the fourth day of ISLF, the participants from various countries were given the whole night to perform a creative presentation about their country. This allowed the student leaders to get a glimpse of the diverse cultures of all the countries that participated in the event. The presentations came in the form of traditional dances, songs, and even martial arts. Delegates from the Philippines came up with a rendition of Angeline Quinto’s Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas with a song number, dance number, and a fashion show. Participants from all other countries even decided to join in and dance along.
Aside from the above-mentioned activities, the delegates from each participating country were given the chance to introduce their own country and its major issues through a presentation, an experience that aimed to promote a sense of awareness and understanding of each country and its people. Other activities like sports, group sharing, games, and socialization were given to help the students go beyond their personal borders and interact with every participant, going beyond any differences in language, culture, and beliefs.
After every activity, the participants were distributed into smaller groups and then asked to gather in a room and reflect on their experiences. This led them to discern and understand the meaning of the event’s theme. It envisioned to offer the students an opportunity to grow with one another and learn from one another. By the end of the 2018 ISLF, the participants had not only grown to become better student leaders, but also created seemingly unlikely friendships that crossed beyond their borders, formed to become the next leaders who can cross the existing borders in the world.