Xavier University is pleased to be taking in two Spanish volunteers from the Universidad de Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. Over the next few months, Blanca Bernad and Raquel Pellicer will be helping out XU in some of its outreach projects.

“I am looking forward to working with indigenous communities and helping them implement development projects,” says Blanca who is in her senior year taking up Environmental Sciences.

Raquel, a graduate of Social Studies and Elementary Education, shares that she is excited to “learn about the Filipino culture and work with Filipinos,” which she hopes will help her grow as a person.

Both Blanca and Raquel will be volunteering for a project with the Matigsalug Manobo, an indigenous community in San Fernando, Bukidnon. With her background, Blanca will likely assist in crafting environmental conservation plans, while Raquel, who is a teacher back in Spain, will help in health education of the Manobo children. The volunteers will also be working closely with the School of Education, and possibly develop proposals to be submitted to funding agencies.

The Universidad de Salamanca, the oldest university in Spain, has an international cooperation program that allows students to opt for an internship in partner developing countries.

“When we return to Spain, we are required to disseminate what we have learned in our project with the Matigsalug,” Blanca imparts. As representatives of their school, the volunteers wish to be the bridge between the Universidad de Salamanca and Xavier University to open up more opportunities for partnership.

XU’s tie-up with the Universidad de Salamanca started in 2003 with an adult education program implemented in the same community in San Fernando, Bukidnon.

“Xavier is the first university, I know, in Mindanao and perhaps in the country with an institutionalized foreign volunteer program,” says program coordinator Dr Erlinda Burton.

In the future, Dr Burton hopes to expand the partnership to include volunteers in the field of medicine. She also hopes that the program can send XU faculty and students to Spain.

Arriving from their home country just over a week ago, Blanca and Raquel are already experiencing the festive Filipino lifestyle. They said they have attended lots of Christmas parties over the holidays.

article from www.xu.edu.ph

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