This gathering was organized for all the senior administrators of the 16 Assumption schools and the superiors of the communities of the Asia Pacific Province. On the day, 74 participants (Sisters and lay partners) from the following countries Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, met remotely by Zoom.
The plan to gather the administrators of the APP Schools online came as a fruit of my dialogue with our Provincial Superior, Sr. Lerma Pangantihon. One year into this pandemic, we thought it best to have a venue to share our stories and listen to one another. For sure, each team has a unique experience of survival, which others can learn from others. With this in mind, the plan was to keep the schedule simple with no specific structure and activities. It was set to two hours. However, as we moved along in the planning, we realized that in order to keep to the time, we also needed to prepare a very simple program to follow.
Despite some connectivity issues, the initial activity was a success. Seventy-four Community Superiors and Lay administrators from four different countries came together for the first time. The entire gathering vibe was light and happy. We met new friends and reconnected with old acquaintances. It was exciting to see everybody’s faces even just onscreen. It affirmed our bond as ONE Assumption family in the Asia Pacific Province.
We started with a first activity: "What is this thing... ? " This is a game to get to know one another in a fun and light way. The question given was: “What is something that you know how to do really well?” After 10 seconds of think time, everyone wrote her/his answer in the chat box. It revealed the special skills and talents of the group! One participant per country was called to share a little about their answer.
Then, we also thought of a fun way to introduce ourselves that only took a few minutes. Given as a homework, the participants were asked to think of a word that captures their experience of this pandemic. The format followed is: “Hello, I’m Grace from Antipolo, GRATEFUL”. As each one is sharing, one host was encoding all the words to form a Word Cloud. After everyone had finished, the Word Cloud was shared with the group. In a way it captures the profile of our APP Administrators at this time. The bigger the image, the more participants chose that word. The word cloud image showed that most of us feel GRATEFUL, BLESSED, and HOPEFUL.
The main activity for the gathering is STORYTELLING. We shared our stories in a 3-minute presentation (in 1 slide) which captured the spirit of our one-year experience as a school. This was also given as a homework: in one slide, choose two challenges that you experienced this year and the life-giving response/s to each. No questions were entertained. It was a time to listen and enter into the experiences of one another. It was a moment of COMMUNION. Each story was a story of survival. However, in the end, they became stories of HOPE. Every school, whether big or small, had its own challenges to face. Nevertheless, we made it through. God has been truly faithful
Sr. Lerma Pangantihon, the Provincial Superior, inspired the group with her message of hope, support, and love. She affirmed the selfless efforts of everyone in responding to the varied issues that confronted their schools. Online learning has catapulted the schools in an unfamiliar space but it also became a space for creativity and resilience. Quoting from “Fratelli Tutti”, Sr. Lerma invited the group to dream again as one family, carrying her own strengths, convictions, beliefs, as ONE Assumption, staying connected with one another. We also thanked the Provincial Council for accompanying each one of us in our particular journey. Their support, love, and prayers carried us through this very difficult year.
The Secretariat for Education and its mission was introduced to the group. Everyone was also invited to take part in contributing to the resources cited with the aim of sharing what other administrators in other countries may find helpful and useful. These may be in the form of videos, stories, pictures, etc.
The gathering ended on a hopeful note. We thanked everyone for coming into this SPACE where we can continue to share, learn, collaborate, support, and truly become ONE Assumption. We affirmed our being one family. Based on our evaluation and feedback, the group wants to make this a regular activity to be held twice a year. Everyone is looking forward to more activities in the months, and years to come.
Recalling the words of St Marie Eugenie, “Love never says I’ve done enough”, we came out of the gathering with BRAVER hearts full of love to continue the mission of transformative education entrusted to us and GRATEFUL hearts full of hope for better days ahead.
Marie Grace B. Magtaas.
Referent Person for Assumption Transformative Education
April 27, 2021