Set on course for Japan, Montessori De Sagrada Familia (MDSF) will send its first student overseas on January 17 under the Youth For Understanding (YFU) International Exchange Student Program.
Jaeden Celest Lazaro, a Grade 12 Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) student, is scheduled to stay at Nasushiobara, Tochigi prefecture with her host family, and to study at a senior high school there for three weeks, with the first three days being in Tokyo for orientation.
According to her, she is one of the five learners across the country who passed to be an exchange student for Japan as she initially learned about the program back in 2022 through a friend of her mother who casually inquired if she would be interested in applying.
“I am very excited to not only experience another culture but also to immerse myself in it. Because I have both the opportunity to sight-see and go to school there like a normal citizen, I believe, then, that I would be able to truly understand the culture of Japan. I think it will be very mind-opening and that it will help me communicate with others more easily and be more aware of the norms and minute differences that make up different cultures,” said Lazaro.
As stated by Mrs. Rowena Jumaquio, Vice Principal for Academic Affairs, it is important to let students know about these kinds of programs to provide them with a chance to engage in a cultural exchange that could change their lives as it provides opportunities for intercultural understanding, lifelong learning, global competencies, respect for other cultures, and social responsibility through transformational education.
“Exposure to such programs offered by a non-profit worldwide organization called Youth for Understanding may serve as a springboard for the school to collaborate with other foreign educational institutions or organizations in order to give students the chance to expand their horizons and transcend boundaries. International experiences can open doors for Senior High school students to further educational pursuits, scholarships, internships, and job opportunities globally,” Jumaquio continued.
Lazaro also expressed her gratitude for being given the opportunity and that she is honored how this could be the driving force that will connect MDSF internationally as it is usually only known schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) who have partnerships with organizations like YFU.
“I really hope it goes well and connects the school. And that, others could follow in my lead because this could be a really great thing. I don’t want to be a lone pillar but the domino that tips the others over. The idea of making a (positive) lasting mark feels better than anything,” Lazaro said.
After she added that this was actually her second attempt in applying for the program, she left some words of encouragement and advice to other Sagradans who would like to follow her path and become an exchange student like her because from her experience, “A lot of people fit the criteria, but not a lot of people know about it”.
“Try! Don’t stop at just “want”. And, be prepared to balance and sacrifice. Because there were days that I had to miss class or take care of forms instead of schoolwork. But what are those in the grand scheme of things? You can catch up on schoolwork later, being able to go on an exchange to a different country isn’t an opportunity easily gotten.
If you’re nice, your grades are fine, and you can show you can adapt well, then you’ll be fine. Make sure to prioritize well so you pass all the required documents on time and that you remember to be calm and collected, and well, just yourself, during the interview. Kayang-kaya ‘yan ng mga Sagradans!,” Lazaro concluded.
By: Frances Nicole M. Mercado