University service learning program seals partnerships with local communities

Xavier University (XU) – Ateneo de Cagayan, through the Service Learning Program (SLP) of the Social Development cluster, enables students and faculty members to engage with communities outside its academic confines.

To seal these partnerships with various communities, a ceremonial memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing was held on July 18 at XU.

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Partners from Northern Mindanao came to the event and among them were representatives from the local government units (LGUs) of Alubijid, Gitagum, and Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental, as well as LGU Talakag, Bukidnon.

Deans and faculty members of the university were also present in the said MOU signing.

This year’s theme of XU SLP is inspired by Pope Francis who gives favor to the peripheries: Immersing Oneself in the World’s Joys and Sufferings.

In his keynote message of XU president Fr Roberto Yap SJ, he presented a contrast between XU-SLP and St Ignatius’ spirituality of finding God in all things: “In spite the tears and joys in the service that St Ignatius gave, it is still the poor which he preferred to minister to.”

Yap added, “That is why we like SLP because it allows our students to love God deeply, to love the world deeply, so that when they are immersed, they can give.”

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In the activity, XU-SLP team leader Jannina Alfante reported that 32 faculty members are now engaged in the program, bringing with them over 1,500 students who are now involved in 34 projects in local communities. 

With this, XU-SLP’s target of reaching 1,500 individuals this semester has now been achieved.

A few partners were asked to give testimonies after they signed their respective MOUs.

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Alubijid Municipal Mayor Alvin Giovanni A. Labis stressed that each year that they partner with XU-SLP, they realize their limitations in the government, of which XU students help fill the gaps, particularly in information dissemination. 

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno highlighted in his testimony the “best years” of the city (1954-1964) when late Mayor Justiniano Borja collaborated with XU in the delivery of social services through the sharing of competence between the academe and the government. 

The MOU signing culminated with the speech of XU’s VP for social development Roel Ravanera, saying, “XU students’ engagements will hopefully help in mitigating disasters in the future.”

He also emphasized that SLP is an enabler for the XU community in a sense that it allows students to hone and apply their competence and contribute to the greater society at the same time.

On behalf of the Service Learning team, Ravanera expressed his gratitude to all the partners of the program — civil society organizations, government agencies, fellow academic institutions, and religious organizations — for their openness to collaborate with Xavier Ateneo. (Maria Farina Roa/XUComm)

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