A few weeks ago our Proj Management class went to Bogo City.
We were to hold a career orientation seminar for some 100+ graduating high school students of a small school called La Paz National High School.
Only months ago Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon to ever land, struck the country, killing tens of thousands and causing millions in devastations. One among those badly hit was Bogo City. It was already February, yet everyone was still struggling, trying to pick up the pieces and start again. This was a huge effort considering the amount of destruction the typhoon caused in the area.
Our goal was to help by providing encouragement to young kids, particularly the high school graduating students since classes were just ending. We figured they must be thinking about college and what to do.
We brought in representatives from government and private bodies with us to the event. There were representatives from TESDA, DOST, and a private organization called Viscal. We asked them to speak about scholarships and similar opportunities the students could avail of after high school. A few of us in class talked about the industries each of us represented. Some also spoke about possible career paths and how to go about making career choices.
That Saturday morning, we took the 3-hour ride to Bogo at 6:30. This was my first time to travel out of Cebu after Yolanda.
When we arrived at almost 10 am it was drizzling. The venue was the small Chapel of St. Nazarene. It only had grills for walls, so we could see the students inside, behaved and anxiously waiting. Someone already put up a makeshift stage in front, near the priest's officiating table. At the left side of the table was a small room with a woman and a sewing machine. How could a priest hold mass with someone near him sewing clothes? That seemed strange.
I went back to checking on the students. I could see the tired look in their eyes. I wondered what they were thinking. Their teacher, a smiling woman in tight, green blouse and very tall clogs greeted us. We greeted her back.
The night before, I spent hours polishing a game dev powerpoint presentation I used before during a career roadshow in another city. It was a successful one, and I remember students flocking around us wanting to know more. They were so thrilled. This was the first time they learned they could actually make a living out of making games.
I thought the students in Bogo would be equally thrilled. After all they were as young. Which young people didn't like games?
But then these kids were different. They were appreciative yet they seemed to be holding back.
They must have been through a lot.
Perhaps there were things more pressing than the idea of college. Most all of them came from very, very poor families. They worry about dinner, about lunch, about fare, about surviving for the next day. Being able to go to college was a far bigger worry, and something they could set aside by just not caring--I think.
I decided to deliver my presentations in the local dialect. I tried to come up with examples that I thought would be understandable to them.
Still, something was amiss.
I wasn't resonating. I wasn't tickling them. They smiled, laughed, but I knew no one was interested in taking the route to game dev. Most all of them were unsure if they could take even step 1 to college. Some of these kids have lost the will to dream.
On my way home I wanted to scream. Should we have focused on other things instead? Perhaps added more scholarship speakers? Perhaps brought in LGUs to hear their concerns? What could have been the better approach?
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Ateneo Graduate School of Business
University of San Carlos