daughter of Filipino immigrants, Teresa Cariño ’13 has memories of the
Philippines that come mostly from the stories she was told growing up and what
she glimpsed on visits from the backseat of the family car.
Now, Cariño, a theology and religious studies major, is
back in her parents’ homeland. Thanks to an anonymous donor, six other University
of San Francisco students are with Cariño — all studying tuition-free and accompanying underprivileged communities as part of the Casa Bayanihan program.
scholarship includes room, board, and tuition, leaving only $1,000 in fees for
students to pay. Likely as a result, more than double the number of USF
students are taking part in the program as compared with fall 2011, when three
made the trip.
second semester, Casa Bayanihan, a jointly managed study abroad and immersion program with Santa
Clara University, and Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, is modeled on the successful Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador. The pillars of the program include: accompanying marginalized
communities; rigorous academic study at the local Jesuit university, Ateneo de
Manila University; simple community living; and spiritual formation.
Students study the Philippines’ economy, culture, and society; gender
equality; Tagalog; and more, as part of their coursework. Two days a week, Casa
Bayanihan students work with local nonprofits or in disadvantaged neighborhoods to serve the disabled, learn from poor
farmers how they grow crops in a community with no potable water or electricity, advocate for street
children, or provide small businesses with micro-loans.
By accompanying the disadvantaged in these ways, students learn from locals about the realities of their daily lives and the factors that contribute their struggles.
As the world moves toward Asia, the mission of Casa Bayanihan offers
students a more complete perspective on how changing economies and social
systems affect the most vulnerable members of society, said Grace Carlson, Casa
program provides a safe environment where students can learn and step out of
their comfort zone to see the privileges they benefit from. Hopefully, in their
professional and personal lives, they’ll find a way to continue to use their
education and their talents as advocates for the marginalized, Carson said. “We
want to form healthy young people grounded in faith, rooted in justice, who can
look at the world with critical eyes, relate to the struggles of others, and
respond together in community.”
understands a good deal of Tagalog but doesn’t speak it, sees Casa Bayanihan as
an opportunity to immerse herself in the language and culture of the
Philippines she never knew. “My biggest challenge is separating my
understanding and experiences of the Philippines of my childhood vacations and
the nitty-gritty reality of the suffering and injustices that affect most of
the country, as well as the hope and light that is there in the midst of all
that,” Cariño said.
by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @usfcanews