Front Row (L-R): Amanda Mitchell (USF); James Caravallyo (USF); Lauren Lum (Regis); Liz Vestal (SLU); Karla Cabangon (Ateneo de Naga); Second Row: Meg O'Neill (BC); Alex Gaynor (BC); Abigail Amico (SLU); Olivia Holzum (SLU); Julia Michalski (USF); Steve Guray (Ateneo de Naga); Third Row: Sarah Stachnik (USF); Katherine Pantangco (USF); Beatriz Betito (Ateneo de Naga); Cecille De Castro (Ateneo de Naga); Teresa Cichello (Fordham); Roberto Martinez (BC)
Liz Vestal, Saint Louis University
What’s up! I’m Liz, hailing from Des Moines, Iowa (Iowa is a
lot better than you think, I promise). I’m a sophomore studying Social Work and
Business at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. My Praxis site is
Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, or “House With No Stairs” in English. This is a place
for persons with disabilities to find both a home and a job, and I am excited
to be accompanying them throughout the semester!
Roberto Martinez, Boston College
As a Junior at Boston College, I am a History and Theology
double major. The Casa program in the Philippines gives me an opportunity to
engage with many of the things I love: questions about theology, genuine
interactions with all people, and of course, rich and diverse cultures! On my
down time, I love playing all types of sports, but basketball by far is my
favorite. I also enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking. Through all this, I also
enjoy great conversations which seem to occur daily here in Casa!
Amanda Mitchell, University of San Francisco
Hello po, I am a junior at the University of San Francisco
and am a Theology and Religious Studies major with minors in Psychology and
Public Service. I decided to say yes to
Casa Bayanihan program because I knew it was going to be an experience that
pushed me beyond my comfort level and allowed me to open myself up to
life. All I can say is that choosing to
participate in this program was the best thing I have done during my
undergraduate time. Lastly, I also had the unique opportunity to hold the
position of the Casa program’s ACE, which is a fellowship that was developed in
relationship with the Leo T. McCarthy Center at USF. To find out more about the
ACE program please visit the McCarthy Center’s website. If you are interested in the participating in the Casa
program don’t over think it, just say yes to this amazing opportunity!
Teresa Cichello, Fordham University
Hi! I’m a junior at Fordham University
studying Anthropology and French. I love my experience here in the Philippines
so far. Casa Bayanihan has a really unique approach to study abroad that
focuses on community living, experiential learning and a real world
perspective. I can really consider it a home away from home, and know it is
going to be an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
Abbie Amico, Saint Louis University
Hi, I’m a sophomore at Saint Louis University
studying economics and minoring in Theology studies and legal studies. I am
originally from South Bend, IN (right outside of Chicago) and am very glad to
be in 80 degree weather as opposed to the negative 30 degree weather I left
behind. My time at Casa has been great so far and I can’t believe I have only been here for two weeks. My
Praxis site is Lingap and I can’t wait to learn more about the organization and
the wonderful communities that surround it.
James Caravallyo, University of San Francisco
Hello, I am currently a junior
attending the University of San Francisco, and I am majoring in Communications.
I joined Casa Bayanihan because I wanted to experience a more authentic way of
learning. This program is definitely not the traditional study abroad
experience. It will grow you in numerous ways because it focuses on
accompanying the people and learning from their lives. In addition to classes
you will also spend two days a week going to praxis sites where you get to
apply what you learn in the classroom to the real world. You will be in contact
with those that may not have much to offer materialistically, but what they do
have is a genuine form of love and sense of community that is truly rare. The
creators and directors of Casa Bayanihan have done an amazing job tailoring
their program. I couldn’t be happier and thankful for saying yes to this
Julia Michalski, University of San Francisco
Hello from the Philippines! My name is Julia Michalski. I am
a sophomore at University of San Francisco, majoring in Biology and minoring in
Neuroscience. Here at the Casa I feel like I’m in the right place at the right
time. I love my praxis site San Damian, the generosity and compassion of the
people is truly inspiring. I’m excited to see what the rest of the semester
Olivia Holzum, Saint Louis University
Hi! I am a sophomore studying Public
Health. I came to the Philippines to
learn about the culture and get to know the people living here. My praxis site is San Damian Center, and I am
looking forward to meeting members of the community there. Since being here I have enjoyed getting to
know the neighborhood and exploring our new home!
Katherine Pantangco, University of San Francisco
I am a sophomore studying Sociology
at the University of San Francisco. I chose to study with Casa Bayanihan for
its alternative approach to studying abroad as it advocates for social change
and cultural awareness. I look forward to exploring the Filipino way of life
and the harsh realities that marginalized communities face. As a
Filipina-American, I hope to better understand my heritage in a new and
explorative way. My praxis site is Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (Home Without
Stairs) where I have the opportunity to accompany persons with disabilities in
a workplace. Mabuhay!
Sarah Stachik, University of San Francisco
Hello! I am a junior studying Architecture
at the University of San Francisco. I have really enjoyed getting to know all
the wonderful people in Casa Bayanihan, our neighborhood, and our praxis sites.
I am looking forward to what will come in the next few months!
Cecille De Castro, Ateneo de Naga University
Magandang Araw! I am Cecille O. De Castro, a 4th
year BS Accountancy student in Ateneo de Naga University. My praxis site is in
Lingap Pangkabataan Inc. I really feel lucky and blessed to be a part of the Casa
Bayanihan program, where I am not only able to learn only about living in a
cross-cultural community and walking with the people but more importantly,
listening to that deeper voice of my soul that God is calling me upon. Great
days are coming!
Lauren Lum, Regis University
Hello, I'm a junior at Regis University in Denver,
Colorado studying Peace and Social Justice Studies and Environmental Studies. I'm originally from Vacaville, California, a small town in Northern California.
I'm excited to be in the Philippines and can’t wait to learn more about such a
different culture! I especially am excited for the times we will be in house
stays with both our Praxis sites and for the time in the fishing community
called Calatagan. My Praxis community is Kapit Bisig which is a community of
OFWs, or Overseas Filipino Workers, many have family members working abroad and
I look forward to hearing more of their stories and playing with the children!
This semester I hope to learn from my Filipino brothers and sisters and to
engage fully in a different reality.
Karla Cabangon, Ateneo de Naga University
Magandang araw po! I’m an 18-year old full-blooded Filipino
from Bicol, a region located in the southern part of Luzon. Currently, I’m a
third year BS Accountancy student in Ateneo de Naga University. Also, I am part
of the first batch of Filipino students who were given this rare opportunity to
study under Casa Bayanihan. So far, living with American students in a
neighborhood that is totally different from where I grew up as well as
accompanying my fellow Filipinos in our praxis sites have both been very good and
unique learning experiences for me.
Alex Gaynor, Boston College
Hello, po! I’m a junior at Boston College
studying International Studies and Philosophy. My praxis site is Lingap
Pangkabataan and I am really looking forward to engaging in the realities of
the communities associated with the program and learning more about the way of
life for many Filipinos. In Manila when I’m not at placement, I enjoy taking
excessive amounts of photos, drinking tea, eating as much Filipino food as I
can, exploring, and soaking up all of the knowledge that the Casa staff and
fellow students have to offer.
Bea Betito, Ateneo de Naga University
Kumusta? I am one of the Filipinos given
the chance to study with the American Students in the Casa Bayanihan Program. I
am 18 years of age, a sophomore, taking up Bachelor of Arts and Secondary
Education Major in English and I live in Naga City, Camarines Sur located in
the southern part of Luzon. This program never fails to surprise every single
day I spend here in Manila with my new American friends and the people in our
praxis sites. Casa Bayanihan is truly a program that will let you go into a
world full of surprises and lessons of life.
Meg O'Neill, Boston College
I am a junior at Boston College studying Philosophy and
African and African Diaspora Studies. I hail from Buffalo, NY, also know as
“Canada,” so I feel right home the tropical weather of the Philippines. All
that’s missing is three feet of snow. My praxis site is Sitio Payong, a farming
community of informal settlers in Metro Manila, and I am having a blast getting
to know the Philippines and its inhabitants everywhere I go!
Steve Guray, Ateneo de Naga University
araw po! Originally from Bulan, Sorsogon, I am a Filipino and a
Bikolano. Currently a senior student of Ateneo de Naga University under the Education
Honors Program and taking Bachelor of Science – Bachelor of Secondary Education
major in Biology Chemistry.
idea of accompaniment and building a community of different students from North
America and Philippines and the goal of knowing more my country excite and
pushed me to apply for the program. In solidarity (solidaridad) and heroism
(bayanihan), I am looking forward for a better version of my faith and
community life after my Casa experience. For this semester I will be with the
people of San Damian Center at Bagong Silang, Quezon City to share my skills
there and at the same time to learn from the reality and stories of Filipinos
from different walks of life.
mabalos po! (God speed!)