THE TRANSFORMATIVE VALUE OF OUR ASSUMPTION EDUCATION
The Sacrifice Box: Transforming Society One Young Person at a Time
What is our measure of transformative education in the Assumption? How do we know that the formation we provide in our schools is bearing fruit in the lives of our students? This vital question that we dare to ask ourselves as educators is not always easy to answer. But as we wait patiently to see results, we continue to give our students the most meaningful experiences every day. We provide spaces for reflection and opportunities for them to become their best selves. We "Christianize the intelligence” to enable them to see rightly, act justly, and love tenderly. It does not happen overnight, but it does happen, sometimes in simple ways that can effect big change. In Assumption Antipolo in the Philippines, it has a name: ALAY KAPWA translated as “an offer to one’s neighbor”.
The story of Alay Kapwa started more than forty years ago. It was a simple after-school community outreach of the Sisters, teachers, and staff of the school which provided a simple livelihood training program to mothers from the nine poor communities around the school. Soon, Alay Kapwa was formalized as an outreach program. It was integrated into the curriculum in support of the core value of the school on Social Responsibility. It became a hallmark program that has been forging the character of every AA student to become a young woman of faith, action, and service. Through this program, AA has become a rich place of encounter for the students and their new friends in the communities. Their regular interactions became opportunities to share their stories, their hopes, and their dreams. A deeper relationship was established.
Assumption education gives much importance on encounter where “each person receives the other and gives oneself to the other. It is a time of accompaniment and dialogue for better discernment” (IEG document, 2018). The Alay Kapwa Program became the fertile ground for such encounters for both the students and their partner communities. When the Alay Kapwa Scholarship Program was established, the Assumption Antipolo students gave their 100% support. Over the years, it grew and flourished.
This Scholarship Program has been a testament to every Assumption Antipolo student’s commitment to transforming society by giving other young people from poor communities a chance to have a better future through education. The best symbol of this program is the Sacrifice Box which has been sustaining the program since it began.
The mechanics are very simple. One wooden box is assigned to every level, from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Every week, the Sacrifice Box is passed around in class. The students give whatever they can afford or spare from their allowance. They know that every peso they give builds a bridge to a better future for their friends who are Alay Kapwa scholars. Giving to the sacrifice box started as a weekly practice and has become an act of solidarity. Every year, those who graduate from college through the scholarship program are invited to meet the students in a big assembly to share their story, their struggles, and most especially their gratitude for the help they received in making their dreams come true. At that exact moment, loving one’s neighbor as a gospel value becomes a lived experience that is real and meaningful for the students of Assumption Antipolo.
The AK Scholarship Program is now 30 years old. It has produced 186 graduates, most of whom are now professionals- teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. It has also evolved in many beautiful ways. These scholars and their families are now part of our bigger Assumption family. They receive their formation to grow in the Assumption Spirituality, to know St. Marie Eugenie, and to respond to the call of the times. They have become leaders in their communities. In a recent homecoming of the Alay Kapwa scholars, they shared their profound gratitude for this great blessing. Now that they are highly successful in their chosen careers, they want to share this blessing with others by helping more young people in their communities. They have formally organized themselves to raise funds to support the scholarship program. Receiving such kindness taught them to be kind and compassionate towards others as well. This is the ripple effect of their transformative experience in the Assumption. They have also become catalysts of change and transformation in their spheres.
ANA MARIA MELOCOTON, RA (former Community Superior of Antipolo)
MRS. EVANGELINE ANGELES (retired teacher/former Alay Kapwa Coordinator)
DIANA JOY ALVARADO ( Alay Kapwa Scholar)
MRS. NORA ALVARADO (Mother of Diana Joy)
KHITZ MAYUGA (Alay Kapwa Coordinator at present)
MARIE GRACE MAGTAAS ( AA School Director)