Front Row (L-R): Julie Anne Buensalida (Ateneo de Naga); Monette Florendo (Ateneo de Naga); Rodelisa De Villa (Ateneo de Naga); Monique Purner (Seattle U); Sarah Fetcho (BC); Monica Macheca (BC); Erin Furay (SCU); Juin Ancha (Ateneo de Naga); Second Row: Matt Walsh (BC); Renzo Rosales (Ateneo de Naga); Mackenzie Feehan (BC); Kaitlin Sielby (BC); Sascha Rosemond (USF); Valerie Cabanban (USF); Third Row: Matt Yim (USF); Megan Gilbert (Marquette U); Gus Hardy (SCU)
Erin Furay, Santa Clara University
Hello! My name is Erin Furay. I grew up in the East Bay Area of California and I’m a junior at Santa Clara University, studying Psychology and Child Studies. My time at Casa Bayanihan so far has been full of laughter, reflection, and reality-altering experiences. I’m looking forward to making memories and giving my life to the people here in the Philippines!
Juin Ancha, Ateneo de Naga University
Hello everyone! I am Juin from Ateneo de Naga University (Philippines). I finished BS Entrepreneurship and entered to Casa Bayanihan in Fall 2014. Casa Bayanihan helped me to see my world, my reality, that I am a part with in a new angle. I just can’t imagine myself if I had not say ‘Yes’ to Casa Bayanihan!
Kaitlin Seibly, Boston College
Hi! My name is Katie and I am a junior at Boston College. I feel extremely grateful to be here at Casa Bayanihan and to have the opportunity to learn more about the faces, voices, and stories that make up the reality of the Philippines. Since arriving in Manila, I have experienced the most warm-hearted welcome and have felt very encouraged and supported by the entire Casa community. I am filled with a very true sense that saying “yes” to Casa is really saying “yes” to fuller life, community, relationships, and reality. I cannot wait to continue to grow into this experience and to see what the next few months have in store!
Julie Anne Buensalida, Ateneo de Naga University
Mabuhay! I’m Julie Anne Buensalida, a BS Accountancy student at Ateneo de Naga University (Philippines). Saying “Yes” to CASA Bayanihan was the greatest choice I have ever made. CASA is a blessing, an opportunity, a challenge, and a life-changing experience of immersing in other people’s shoes. Through their stories, I was able to renew myself and find God’s presence in every one’s life including mine.
Matthew Yim, University of San Francisco
Hello I’m Matthew from USF. I am very much enjoying my time in Casa right now. Casa is not a place where you go in with an intellectual mind set or clearly cut out expectations of what you want in life. It’s likely that you are not going to find whatever that you are looking for in life right now. But don’t worry. For the most part those big questions we have about life aren’t meant to be answered but rather are meant to move us. In Casa you will constantly encounter these movements in life from the people you meet and the lives you take part in. So if you are a kind of person who wants to be moved rather than just be ‘learnt’ say yes to Casa!
Gus Hardy, Santa Clara University
Hello from the Philippines! I’m Gus Hardy, a Junior Religious Studies/Poli-Sci double major at Santa Clara University (originally hailing from Berkeley, the land of a thousand hippies.) Ever since I was in high school, I always wanted to go to the Philippines, and I’m thankful for every day we get here at Casa Bayanihan, the most amazing study abroad program on God’s green earth. The lessons I’m learning in the classroom and at my Praxis site, Kapit Bisig, are incredible- and I can’t wait to take what I’ll learn back to the States.
Mackenzie Feehan, Boston College
Hi! My name is Mackenzie Feehan and I’m from New York. I am a junior at Boston College majoring in nursing. I am so grateful to have been given a home halfway across the world! Every day we spend at Casa is filled with laughter, opportunities, challenges, and many, many blessings. The Philippines has so much to offer, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester holds!
Megan Gilbert, Marquette University
Hi! I’m Megan, and I’m from Peoria, Illinois. I am majoring in Theology and minoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Marquette University. I love Casa for reasons that I didn’t expect--- such as for opportunities to learn more about Ignatian spirituality and to interact with people who possess profound understandings of God and of humanity. I was drawn to this study abroad program for its incorporation of praxis sites and spirituality, and I am blown away by how all four of Casa’s pillars work together to point toward greater life.
Matt Walsh, Boston College
Hello! I am Matt Walsh from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am a junior at Boston College majoring in philosophy and theology. I have found that Casa Bayanihan offers students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the daily reality of the Filipino people. This immersion has made apparent the strong bonds of our common humanity that bind us to one another. On so many levels, this experience is remarkable. Joy surely abounds here in the Philippines!
Monette Florendo, Ateneo de Naga University
Magandang araw! I’m Monette from Naga City, Philippines. I am studying Bachelor of Science – Bachelor in Secondary Education Major in Mathematics at the Ateneo de Naga University. The best thing in Casa Bayanihan is that every single moment is turned magically by people in it. Every encounter here is always a chance to evaluate the self, strengthen relationships and build a greater sense of community. And in these, all smiles and tears are genuine reflections of life. Experience “real” life here in Casa!
Monica Macheca, Boston College
Hi! I’m Monica from St. Louis, MO studying economics at Boston College. Casa Bayanihan is a unique study abroad program that allows students to transcend their “foreigner” or “tourist” status and to truly become an active member of the Filipino community. It is a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn and grow in a variety of ways as they engage with their praxis communities, program staff, and their fellow Casa students.
Renzo Rosales, Ateneo de Naga University
Hi! I’m Renzo but you can call me “Cho”. I’m from Naga in the Philippines and I’m studying at Ateneo de Naga University taking up Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Mathematics. Casa Bayanihan is like a roller coaster ride of an experience. We get to meet different kinds of people and get to have fun with them. My praxis site, San Damian Center has the coolest sisters. They are so funny you will never get bored and going to different praxis sites is so much fun that you will learn a lot. Say Yes to Casa Bayanihan!
Monique Purner, Seattle University
Hi I’m Monique, I’m from San Diego, California. I am studying Psychology at Seattle University. There have been so many great memories made already here but I think my times riding the Jeepneys around has been one of the highlights. Music is blasting and they are are filled with so many cool things to stare at, so it’s always a fun experience.
Rodelisa De Villa, Ateneo de Naga University
Hi! I am Rodelisa P. De Villa from Ateneo de Naga University (Philippines) studying Accountancy. In Casa Bayanihan, I was able to see the reality of my own country in a deeper manner. I was also able to experience things that I never would have if I hadn’t joined. Plus, the food prepared by the ‘ate’s’ are really good!
Valerie Cabanban, University of San Francisco
Hi! I’m Valerie from Los Angeles, California and I am studying theology at the University of San Francisco. Casa Bayanihan is an amazing experience. I especially love my beautiful praxis site, L’Arche Punla (Ang Arko Ng Pilipinas), living in community with students from other Jesuit universities, and learning more about Filipino culture!
Sarah Fetcho, Boston College
Mabuhay! My name is Sarah Fetcho. I’m an Elementary Education and History major at Boston College from Baltimore, Maryland. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in Casa, a program that allows you to shift your perspective of the world and experience the reality of life here in the Philippines. Casa is both challenging and life-giving and so far my experience in community has been full of laughter and joy. Also, the mangos here are addicting!
Sascha Rosemond, University of San Francisco
Mabuhay! My name is Sascha Rosemond. I am from Pasadena, California and I am a senior at the University of San Francisco majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Sociology. The sense of community at Casa Bayanihan is incredible. In only a few weeks I feel more at home in the Philippines than I ever thought possible. I came to Casa to experience real life with the people in this amazing place. The sights and smells of Manila will reawaken you and your praxis experience, classes and spiritual exploration will nurture your mind, body and spirit. Say yes to Casa Bayanihan because as they say here, “It is more fun in the Philippines”.