Imagine an exciting two-day trip to the paradise you have always wanted to visit with your best friends, but instead, with students who are strongly motivated to lead our society towards positive change. That is what the 15th EDSOR Peace Conference was for me. It was not merely an event where one shook hands and gave smiles, but an opportunity to hold those hands and sail on a journey of service together.
EDSOR 2015 officially kicked off with a talk by Bob Lopez on the event’s theme, “Social Media for Social Transformation.” She spoke about the impact of social media on the nation as a whole, and how we, the youth, are very much involved in it. Her’s was an engrossing talk, yet what came next was what truly got everybody’s blood pumping–the ice-breakers. I was finally able to meet my group, Skype, in this part of the program. We began getting to know each other by introducing ourselves and mentioning what hashtags we would use to describe ourselves, where I began vainly, yet honestly, with #awesome.
Shortly after introductions, we started throwing in ideas for the Facebook page we were to create, which would ultimately represent our group, and, more importantly, our advocacy. In order to more inventively express our advocacy, however, we were tasked to create a hashtag. Ours was a play with words of the #nowplaying hashtag, transformed to #nowserving in order to appropriately fit our advocacy to serve. Before officially beginning our campaign, inspirational speakers gave us talks on how they used social media for the betterment of others. There was one that had a strong impact on me, that of Jefferson Hou and Sean Yu regarding the FLIP organization, which was established by four seniors from Xavier School, including Jeff, just a year ago, with the vision of helping the less fortunate. I enjoyed their discussion on how they used social media to aid them in changing the lives of others, which gave me a glimpse of the power that is held by the internet and how it can be used for the betterment of the society. Further organization of our campaign followed the series of talks where we filmed a short scene to show how one can serve others, and how one, alone, can make a difference.
After a fun-filled day, we soon began to accept the inevitably unfortunate, the end of the first day of our exciting journey. Yet, I would not have wanted it to end any other way than with the EDSOR Jam, an hour of stunning performances by students from each of the participating schools. Xavier School’s Juniors prepared a highly entertaining dance performance and had the audience cheering wildly with their “Single Ladies” dance, which made them want our Juniors to “put a ring on it.” They ended their performance by calling all Xaverian EDSOR participants onto the stage to rave with them, a unique way to show the Lasalleans, Povedans, and Icans, the true Xaverian way.
The second day of EDSOR 2015 was no less exciting, if not more. We began the day shaking our hips and shuffling our feet to the playing beat in the auditorium, following the lead of a talented Povedan dancer on the stage. However, this simply served as a warm up for the next activity, the Amazing Race, where various challenges awaited the groups in stations scattered around the campus of Poveda. From making videos, to making a monopod out of pencils, to finding cards in the dark, the Amazing Race was, by far, the most enjoyable activity for many like myself. Admittedly, we lost many of the challenges when we were faced against another group, yet how we shrugged off the losses to take on the next challenge was what made the activity truly memorable.
After approximately three hours of the race, we went to the computer center in sweat and smiles to finalize our Facebook page, before finally heading off to lunch as a group. After our meals, we had yet another hour to finish our page before its final presentation, but since we had finished early, we decided to bond instead through a game of Truth or Dare. Our laughter roared throughout the field as dares were taken to hand-stand around a random boy, to tell a girl she was the most beautiful person in the world, to take a selfie with a stranger, and a few other embarrassing challenges.
Following the laughter, however, was my anxiety to present our Facebook page in front of the large crowd of EDSOR participants in the auditorium. When the time to present our page came, though, I was prouder than ever to represent my group, alongside my fellow group-mate, even if just for a short time.
After all the other groups had presented their works, we ended the day with a mass. The gospel and the homily were difficult to listen to, however, since I was beginning to get sentimental about the end of the event. A final hour was then given to the moderators, facilitators, committee members, and participants to take photos on the stage to serve as a remembrance of the wonderful two-day journey that we had taken part in. The photo-taking concluded the 15th EDSOR Peace Conference, an end that, although brought great dread to its participants, gave them a memorable experience, and an exciting story to tell their friends.
Today, I am the proudest that one could be to have been part of EDSOR 2015, not because I was a part of the ten students who were hand-picked to participate in the event, but because, in partaking in the event, I was able to learn several priceless lessons.
The creation of the Facebook page was key to the development of our relationship as a group, since it was an open opportunity to hear one another’s voices and to synchronize them in order to create a harmony. It allowed me to experience what it is like to work and interact with different people from different places, which is, as I see it, an essential skill in the real world–to be able to listen to others, and at the same time, contribute one’s own ideas.
A practical lesson I learned with the multiple talks given to us was that big things truly have small beginnings. Jefferson Hou, along with only three of his batch-mates, taught me this lesson as they established an organization founded by only four of them. They greatly aided a small public school by collecting funds through a program which they efficiently spread with the use of social media. While many see social media as disadvantageous to the majority, Jeff Hou taught me that it can be used for greater purpose, and concretely showed me how.
These are what I find to be the most valuable among the numerous lessons I have learned, and although I still feel separation anxiety (#sepanx), I keep in mind one of the most cliché lines of all time to comfort myself, and I quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”