Letter to Parents

Dear Parents of Potential Casa Bayanihan Students,

Warm greetings from the Philippines! We provide this section of our website specifically for you as you support your child in discerning about joining Casa Bayanihan, the semester-long, alternative study abroad program in the Philippines.

Grace and Heidi

Grace Carlson & Heidi Kallen
Co-Directors, Casa Bayanihan

 As you will see from the website, Casa Bayanihan is rooted in four pillars: accompaniment, academics, community, and spirituality. Beginning with sustained accompaniment of those who live on the margins, Casa programs integrate praxis experience into rigorous academic reflection.  The staff supports this reflection through a carefully structured web of spiritual and communal formation in order to facilitate the transformation needed to develop a 'well-educated solidarity' that former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., described.

At times, we have had some potential students' parents express their concerns about letting their sons and daughters travel the Philippines to study abroad. We want to reassure you that we take issues of safety very seriously in Manila. In order to ensure the safety of our students, we have implemented a number of important safety policies and guidelines that we expect our students to uphold. For example, students do not go out alone after dark and they cannot ride public transportation alone. 

We also spend the first two weeks of students' time in the host country covering issues of safety and security. Obviously, no study abroad program can guarantee students' safety at all times. We do, however, go to great lengths to ensure that our students remain safe. We would never be in this line of work if we felt that our students were any more at risk than if, say, they were in a big city like New York or Chicago.              Parent Reflections

On our website, you will find links to reflections by several parents who were hesitant at first about allowing their children to study abroad in the Philippines. Eventually, they did decide to let them participate and then the parents themselves visited during our Family Week. Casa Bayanihan hosts a Family Week in both the Fall and Spring semesters, intentionally created to provide a space for family members of current students to experience the realities of the Philippines alongside their daughter or son.  Families are invited to participate in Casa classes, visit students' praxis sites, and share in community events.  Many families also take advantage of the opportunity to tour Manila or one of the many beautiful surrounding islands during their stay.  Resources on accommodations and travel tips during a visit to Manila can be found here.  Family Week for the Fall 2013 semester is November 24-29, 2013.  

The rest of the questions you have right now will probably be answered through the other sections of this website. We encourage you to follow Casa Bayanihan events on our Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr pages.  In addition, be sure to read the article by the online magazine, Positively Filipino, featuring Casa Bayanihan.  If you have any further questions for us, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to talk further about the program.

In peace,

Grace Carlson & Heidi Kallen 
Co-Directors, Casa Bayanihan