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YOUTH LEADERS. All 28 Philippine Youth Leadership Program (PYLP) participants meet as one group for the first time for their pre-departure orientation. Supplied photo.

Twenty-four youth and four adult participants of the Philippine Youth Leadership Program (PYLP) Batch 16 attended their pre-departure orientation and seminar (PDOS) from April 7 to 14, facilitated by Xavier Ateneo School of Education’s Arrupe Educational Center (AEC) and the US Embassy (Manila) at Bayview Park Hotel.

The successful applicants are from various Mindanao provinces, namely, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur Cotabato, Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Sulu.

Their first day commenced with their individual visa interviews at the US Embassy and a formal welcome from AEC director Maria Victoria Bicbic-Trinidad who outlined their travel program from Manila to their host university, Northern Illinois University (NIU). They were also given an orientation and historical timeline of the PYLP program by Ryan Victor Miranda of PYLP Batch 7, who currently works at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

PYLP special programs officer Atty Ernesto Neri gave a talk on the American cultural experience, while youth program officer Anito Librando Jr shared on everyday etiquette and adapting to US school environment.

BATCH 16. PYLP-16 participants take a group photo with US Embassy public affairs counselor Phillip Roskamp and assistant cultural affairs officer Ryan Bradeen during the reception dinner at the American Recreation Club Manila. Supplied photo.

Adult program officer Dr Maria Angeles Hinosolango facilitated the group’s team-building activities and supervised their cultural presentation rehearsals.

“The PDOS was the first opportunity for Batch 16 to gather as a group," Neri said. "It was a challenge to make 28 different personalities adjust to one another, but as the days went by, I saw how they slowly brought out and weaved their diverse background into one tapestry of sorts."

Neri continued: “The best part was seeing them rehearse their cultural presentation which I think represents how they all generously share themselves. I hope that after the program, they would return with a new set of eyes which is hopeful and full of spirit. Their new and bigger world will hopefully move them to become instruments of social good in their communities."    

CULTURAL PRESENTATION. USG alumna Dr Maria Angeles Dano-Hinosolango provides feedback to PYLP 16 participants during one of their rehearsals for their cultural presentation. Supplied photo. 

The participants had their reception dinner at the American Recreation Club Manila, hosted by US Embassy Manila’s public affairs counselor Phillip Roskamp and cultural affairs officer Ryan Bradeen. PYLP alumni and other USG alumni from various programs were also in attendance to welcome the new batch.  

The AEC director said, “These participants are coming together for the first time and our priority included the opportunity for them to establish their teamwork and collective leadership - very essential for them to achieve the goals of this program.”

Bicbic-Trinidad added: “In this PDOS, we had our share of challenges. But it was all worth the work and affirms greatly the UAP of accompanying young people in the creations of a hope-filled future. I hope our work has shown them our love and care, something that PYLP 16 can bring with them on their leadership journey. Our profound gratitude extends to the NIU CSEAS and PYLP officers, the US Embassy in Manila and ACCESS PYLP alumni for their great contributions.”

At NIU, the PYLP 16 participants will engage in leadership training, community service, field trips, group projects, lectures, and an American homestay experience.

PYLP is one of many youth exchange programs funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Xavier Ateneo is the Philippine university partner of Northern Illinois University in implementing the program.∎

WELCOME. Ryan Bradeen, assistant cultural affairs officer of US Embassy Manila, formally welcomes the PYLP-16 participants to the program. Supplied photo.

CONSULTATION. PYLP 16 in-country coordinator Anito Librando Jr (center) facilitates the group consultation with female PYLP-16 participants on their pre-departure activities. Supplied photo.

CONSULTATION. PYLP 16 special programs officer Atty Ernesto Neri facilitates the group consultation with male PYLP-16 participants on their pre-departure activities. Supplied photo.

TO NORTHERN ILLINOIS. PYLP-16 participants start their early departure for Northen Illinois University at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.