"Communion is our collective mission and we must create spaces to make this happen". These were the inspiring words of our Provincial Superior, Sr. Lerma Victoria Pangantihon as the second Asia Pacific Province Administrators’ Gathering opened on January 7, 2022. Sixty-four administrators from 16 schools gathered for their Bi-annual formation session with the theme: Journeying in Communion for Mission.
The 3-hour session was filled with sharing and learning. It was a rich exchange of experiences and school practices of the participants from 4 different countries that make up the Province: Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The highlight of the gathering was the plenary session on Pope Francis’ Global Compact on Education (GCE) with Ajan Chainarong Montheinvichienchai of Thailand as plenary speaker. Based on the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, this global pact aims to engage all sectors of society to create such a village. The Holy Father envisions a radical shift in education and makes it a venue to promote fraternity, peace, and justice. (Vademecum, 2021). In this session, the participants were introduced to the Seven Commitments of the Global Compact: namely 1) to make human persons the center, 2) to listen to the voices of the young, 3) to advance the women, 4) to empower the family, 5) to welcome, 6) to find new ways of understanding politics and economy, and 7) to safeguard our common home. More sessions are sure to follow, not only to deepen every school community’s reflection but also to consciously respond to this call.
After the plenary session, the participants were divided into 3 groups according to their distinct roles in school: Academics, Administrative Services, and Student Services. In these three breakout groupings, the participants shared how their schools are thriving in the Pandemic, what they have learned to do better, and what new ways of doing things are helping them fulfill their mission of education. Some schools volunteered to share best practices in their assigned groups. Everyone was engaged in meaningful conversations throughout the session.
Here are some insights from the participants.
Lan Trinh from VIETNAM:
“I am grateful for the chance to attend this gathering. I feel so blessed to hear all the sharing from different schools about changing, creating, and adapting to the new situation because of the pandemic. I have learned many things and I felt connected with all of you. Somehow, I see the Pandemic challenging us to be the best of ourselves and also give our best to the students. May we always be "the bearer of hope" to the students and others.”
Arlene Carlos from the PHILIPPINES:
“Innovativeness, agility, and resiliency- these for me are the words that perfectly describe the people behind the creative and relevant programs that were showcased in the meeting of the student services group during the January 7, 2022 APP admin meeting. Gathered together in a virtual assembly, we, the Assumption school heads, shared how we surmounted the challenges of distance learning to continue giving quality education even during the pandemic. Awed by the video presentations of four schools and recalling our experiences from the onset of the health crisis up to the present, we realized that no amount of pressure could hinder us from keeping our mission of educating the young alive. Inspired by the Assumption spirit, we continue to journey together treading the newness of life with the strong conviction that God walks with us as we deliver services that nurture the holistic formation of the students.”
Kannatha Siriphen from THAILAND:
“I learned a lot listening to what my companions have shared. We do not always have control of situations or circumstances in our life and environment. But when we are open, somehow, we discover in ourselves the capacity to respond positively. We adjust personally, we work with others, and together find new ways of dealing with challenges in our work and responsibilities as administrators. I am happy to realize that we in St John's School-Thabom are part of a bigger family of the Assumption. I feel we are not alone. At the same time, I feel one with my co-educators and administrators as they face difficulties and challenges and rejoice with them in their successes.”
Naomi Tanzawa from JAPAN:
“I was so grateful to join the Administrators’ gathering of the APP. I found that we are walking together towards the future. In our unity, we accept and understand diversity with a global vision together. Also, we had the chance to speak with other lay partners and discuss our challenges. This experience gave me the passion and the courage to face the new school year! I am truly grateful for this opportunity to experience and be Assumption Together!”
The Administrators’ Gathering became a real communion experience. The sessions expanded our understanding and views of the varied issues and concerns that confront our schools during this time. The struggles were real, but so were the little victories that we achieved along the way. Everything is truly a blessing. We were transformed in many unexpected ways. We became better educators for our students. In sharing our stories, we realized that even if our contexts are unique and we are geographically distant from one another, we are never alone in the journey. Our biggest take-away is that we belong to ONE ASSUMPTION family that will continue to walk together, in communion, for the love of this mission of transformative education.
(Ajan Chainarong Montheinvichienchai is currently serving as a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican. He is the license holder of St. John’s School in Thabom, Thailand, working closely with the Assumption Sisters.)
Global Compact on Education. (2021, October 5). Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://www.educationglobalcompact.org/resources/Risorse/vademecum-english.pdf
SISTER MARIE GRACE MAGTAAS
Reference Person for Education
Asia Pacific Province