Story and Photos By Georgene Quilaton-Tambiga
Overwhelming is an understatement to capture into one word the experience of a Filipino lay collaborator during the VI EDUCAR Encounter last November 3, 4 and 5, 2021, via Zoom Meeting.
Being among the 80 (more or less) Filipino delegates, to the virtual conference that gathered more than 300 members of the Augustinian Recollect community worldwide, I was honored yet intimidated. The gathering, after all, showcased schools from 13 different countries whose representatives speak three different languages, yet when I saw how extensive the network of Augustinian Recollect educational centers is, I felt honored to be part of the workforce of men and women whose primary mission is to deliver education while fulfilling the evangelizing work of the Church.
Being an alumna of Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos, I can safely claim that I grew up as a product of Augustinian Pedagogy but differences in culture and varied transitions in the generic curriculum mandated by the Department of Education affected my impression and application of St. Augustine’s way of teaching and learning. Even as I became part of the CST-R faculty and staff, I found myself still fumbling for the appropriate means and ways to implement Augustinian Pedagogy with respect to the continuously changing Philippine educational system.
The VI Encuentro EDUCAR was overwhelming in that it showcased how different cultures and varied environments could still come together and be aligned and united in terms of implementing the Augustinian Pedagogy and living with the Augustinian Spirituality.
Ultimately, language was just an initial barrier because the more I opened my ears and my heart to the discussions the more I realized that a good number of words that I use in my mother tongue have Spanish origins. With contextualization and reflection, I concluded that the members of the community may have spoken in diverse tongues and accents but we meant to speak one language—that of our father St. Augustine—of a learner-centered method of education geared towards fulfilling interiority.
In consonance with my fellow Filipino delegates, I felt that the VI Encuentro EDUCAR was also an opportunity to be listened to. The patience and consideration with which groupmates during the break-out sessions listened to and took notes of the reports and in-puts by Filipinos, both religious and lay, were commendable. That sharing of best practices and points for improvement allowed me and my fellows to show how we, in the Philippines, continue to form our school community members with Augustinian Spirituality while adapting to the norms mandated by this pandemic. The same sharing during the Encounter in return allowed us to virtually witness the outstanding applications in Recollect educational centers in Central America and the Caribbean.
Now, in the Philippines, our post-Encuentro EDUCAR week is also the re-opening of the schools after an academic break. Just as Fray Antonio Carrón pointed out the challenge of the huge task that the meeting outcome is posting to the Father General, I am also pointing out a huge challenge to myself so that as a member of this big Augustinian Recollect community I should start propagating the learnings and realizations I earned from the Encounter