From the 23 September to 8 October Marta Webster, Charles Thompson and I, along with 13 boys from Years 9 and 10, took part in the Philippines Cultural Exchange to Manila. This is the 20th anniversary of the exchange program and to say that it was successful would be an understatement. I cannot thank all of the participants enough for such a meaningful and experience.
Below is an extract from a speech given by Lachlan Joseph at the farewell dinner at La Salle Green Hills, Manila.
Mr David Happ
Philippines Cultural Exchange Coordinator
The entire community at La Salle Green Hills made all of us feel like we were at home. The way people welcomed and treated us was absolutely amazing. Even though the school was chockers (full) every person I have seen has said hello. It is amazing how the kids will do anything to get an education that they are so thankful for.
Every aspect of Filipino culture has sunk in to us Australians. Everything from ‘balut’ (a local ‘delicacy’) to driving for 40 minutes only to discover you did a single u-turn. It is fair to say on behalf of us Australians, we are thankful beyond belief. For two weeks our outstanding host families have done everything to make us feel at home and welcome. We have been clothed, cleaned, fed, supported, driven and much more. Of course there were challenges such as language barriers — turns out a good pair of thongs means something different here.
Something that came up at Jaime Hilario, a school for the less fortunate, was a story of a guitar that people played and shared together. Eli Te Moni said “You could feel it, it had been used and loved by many people”. I believe this is closely related to Lasallian spirit. Whether you are in one country or another you share one brothership that is loved, shared and used by many. This links in to what a Brother said: “you can give candy, money and material items but the best thing you can give is your time and skills.”
Truth be told, we were in a new family for a couple weeks. But for all we knew it could have been our own family. With such a warm reception and levels of care given, we felt we knew where we should be. To finish my marathon of a speech I will use a quote from the great Mr Thompson “people are wonderful wherever you travel”.