Saint Aloysius’ College – Xavier School Interaction

by Sean Yu, H3I
Photos by Michael Orlina (H3A)

Every year, a group of high school students from Saint Aloysius’ College of Sydney, Australia, headed by Father Peter Hosking, SJ, comes to the Philippines for an immersion. They spend days building homes in Gawad Kalinga.  Last December 3, Xaverians from the Gentlemanliness Committee (GC) were given the privilege to interact with the Australians. The goal of the interaction was to share our knowledge about local culture and give them a brief background of the Philippines in hopes of preparing them for the weeks ahead. We tried to introduce them to the Philippine culture by serving them local delicacies like balut and puto, and playing Filpino games with them like sipa, luksong tinik, and patintero.

The day started with a mass in honor of Xavier School’s patron saint, Saint Francis Xavier. During the first period, the Australians participated in H3 Theory of Knowledge (TOK) classes taught by Mr. Brian Marana and Mr. Palan Reyes. The interaction formally began when we gathered in the High School Multi-Purpose Hall. When I first arrived at the interaction venue, there was a clear divide between the students—the students from Saint Aloysius were at one side of the room speaking English with an acute accent, while the Xaverians were on the other side of the room conversing with a mix of Tagalog and English. However, we were all “forced” to get rid of our inhibitions because we were broken off into groups. Each table was composed of three Australians and three Xaverians, and everyone was served palabok and puto. Through the conversations my group mates and I had, we were able to distinguish the similarities and the differences between the Philippine and Australian culture. Moreover, we taught each other common vocabulary; we taught them the words “Mabuhay” and Salamat,” while they informed us on how the word “chopper” was used in Australia. After the small gathering, Mr. Alvin Ang gave a short welcome message to the Australians and emphasized how different life in the Philippines is from life in Australia. Furthermore, Mr. Ang and Father Hosking said that, despite the differences, a good personality and character would lead to a successful interaction and immersion.

After the brief introductory messages, the games began! The Australians were grouped into three teams, while the Xaverians facilitated the games. It was during these games that I saw how other nationalities can also enjoy the culture of the Philippines. The numerous meetings that the GC had to prepare for the interaction truly paid off when we saw the smiles on their faces and heard their laughter. The competitiveness of the Australians was showcased, and they even used Tagalog words such as “madaya,” “panalo,” and “sayang.” The games also gave us time to converse with one another and compare our local culture to theirs. This led to new friendships and a fun-filled day!

Lunch, which was probably one of the most interesting events of the day, followed the games. We were served adobong manok (a staple in most Filipino households), talong, and saba. Midway eating, the teachers provided balut for each table, the condition being that if one Australian eats, two Xaverians must eat. I was very excited to try balut for the first time, so I gamely ate my share. My group mates, Michael and Jeff, had second thoughts but eventually ended up eating this unique Filipino delicacy. I asked some of the Australians why they didn’t want to eat the balut and most of them replied, “It’s not the taste, it’s the thought of eating a chick.” This lunch activity showed me how the culture of one country may not directly appeal to another group of people due to the differences in beliefs.

After the enjoyable day, a reflection led by Johann Lam and Ryan Dieza incited various thoughts and realizations from the Xaverians and Australians. The activity was to complete sentences like, “Masaya ako dahil __,” “Gusto ko __,” and “Malungkot ako dahil __.” The interaction was given a formal close with short messages from Mr. Brian Marana, Fr. Peter Hosking, and the Australians. One message from Fr. Peter Hosking stood out, and I believe this served as the theme of the interaction: “No matter how different your cultures may have been, the character and the lessons that you have learned from school have allowed you to be able to successfully interact with one another and successfully learn from one another.”

This unique event truly developed a sense of brotherhood between the students of Xavier School San Juan and the students of Saint Aloysius’ College Sydney. Tom Dunlop from Saint Aloysius’ College best summed up the interaction when he shared, “Malungkot ako dahil we only got to know each other for a while.” The goal was to introduce them to the local culture, however, as the interaction progressed, friendships that will hopefully last for years were formed.

One of the most important lessons this short but meaningful interaction taught me is the power of conversation and character. This interaction allowed us to converse with foreigners who have different backgrounds from us, but because of how our Catholic schools have molded us, we were able to relate to and learn from one another.

I would like to thank Xavier School, Saint Aloysius College, and everyone else who made the interaction an unforgettable experience. Through this, we learned about each other’s culture, school, and background, but more importantly we saw the power of character. I hope that other Xaverians will be able to participate in this influential experience and also be able to see how people, despite their cultural differences, are similar to one another.

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