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An Experience We Can Look Forward To

We have so many things that we can look forward to when we go back to school such as doing plays and going to retreats. Then, there are also Overseas Learning Experience or simply known as OLE, which a lot of us are excited to go to, but they sadly got canceled because of COVID-19. Let us see what the students experienced when they attended the different types of OLEs.


Getting Ready


When going to a foreign country for educational purposes, getting ready before you go is very crucial. People prepare differently depending on the type of their OLE. Let us dive in to see how each of our interviewees prepared for a pleasant OLE.


“I had to prepare a violin piece for a specific song,” commented Luke Chan, who went to the Asia Pacific Arts Festival. The OLE he went to was one where he could show his talent.


Ada Mendoza, on the other hand, attended the Harvard Model Congress Asia also known as HMCA. She mentioned that she “had to read a lot for this experience and conduct research based on the committee you were assigned to. I also needed to prepare a written speech.”


Dave Que’s thoughts were similar to Mendoza’s, as they went to the same OLE. He, however, was not able to attend the interview, but he still got to tell us his experience in the HMCA. He shared the challenges of preparing a paper and studying beforehand the topics that his committee was assigned to discuss and debate about in the actual conference. “I remember I had sleepless nights panicking and worrying as I felt unprepared for the Harvard conference.”


MJ Yazon felt the pressure of being a part of the Yale Model United Nations Taiwan, much like Mendoza and Que did. Yazon told us that she had to research a lot about her topic, prepare a speech, and know the issues related to it.


Jef Fernandez, who attended the Youth Environmental Summit in Singapore, mentioned that he “had to research about environmental issues in the country and come up with a solution for it.” He also stated that using the information he collected, he had to do a presentation about it in the OLE.


“Prepare to interact a lot, learn, and have fun. It is also crucial for you to bring a lot of clothes because there will be times when you will get dirty. Also, if you are scared of bugs please be prepared,” Hanah Rendal listed down; she participated in the Student Exchange Program to Mechai Bamboo School Thailand. She also mentioned that it is really important that you take this opportunity to just be more open because you may regret not taking the opportunity to make the most of your time there. Unfortunately, like Dave Que, she was not able to participate in the interview but she was able to talk about her experience as well.


Mika Llave took part in the New Zealand Cultural and Leadership Study Program. She tells the story of how she and the other students who took part in the OLE had to prepare a cultural dance to show to the students in New Zealand. She also mentioned that she had to prepare to understand the cultures of other countries.


Elijah Fernandez who was present at the Asia Student Leadership Conference OLE said, “I had to research pressing issues these days and had to find a specific teacher to check my research work.”


Challenges

Every experience has its challenges. Challenges are part of life, but it’s always important to learn from these obstacles. So that you will be prepared for what challenges will be waiting for you, we listed down what hardships the students went through.


Luke Chan said that there was some confusion, and things didn’t go exactly as planned because some people from the dance category didn’t show up, so only one member ended up performing. He also explained that being mentally prepared is very important because it can be awkward when all eyes are on you.


On the other hand, Ada Mendoza had to go out of her comfort zone since, in HMCA, you have to volunteer to speak. At the time, she felt like she could still volunteer for the next round but if she kept on putting it off, she might miss her chance.


Elijah Fernandez felt intimidated that other people were more prepared than him; he had a hard time finding confidence.


MJ Yazon also struggled with getting out of her comfort zone and collaborating with people she didn’t know at YMUNT.


“I think the most challenging part about OLEs is having to work out of your comfort zone. It is pretty tricky in the beginning especially when you have to socialize with different strangers and when you have to study, research, and present a topic in a non-classroom environment all in the same day. Nevertheless, it’s a great experience that will teach you a lot when it comes to communicating with other people and understanding where you can grow better as a person,” said Dave Que.


Mika Llave was challenged because she had to catch up with her academics after she came back from the New Zealand Cultural and Leadership Study program.


Jef Fernandez found it hard to communicate with his peers at YES because of language barriers. Occasionally, he found it hard to understand them but didn’t want to seem offensive, so it was challenging to communicate clearly with his fellow peers.


Hannah Rendal who attended the student exchange program at Mechai Bamboo School said that communication was difficult because of their difference in language, “I think that the most challenging part is the language barrier. Most of them are not good at English so there are times where you will not understand each other. However, there are some students there who are good with English so that will be helpful.”


Fond Memories


Though there will be obstacles that you will need to get through, the situation will not be full of hardships only. There will be situations that will be very meaningful to you that you wish time would stop there. Sadly, the world needs to keep moving, but there will be memories that you can always look back to. Let us see which of the memories the students had in the OLE were the most meaningful.


Luke Chan stated that he enjoyed talking and conversing with some of the drummers that he became friends with within the OLE experience. He enjoyed interacting with different people from different places overall.


Meanwhile, Ada loved learning about different cultures from a diverse set of countries. Not only that but she loved bonding with other students especially the ICS students from various grades.


Elijah got to meet other Filipinos in the experience. They were intimidated by other people in different nations but were able to build up their confidence together.


MJ said that it was her first time being abroad without her parents, so it was a new experience. She also shared how she got to bond and communicate with other delegates.


Dave Que observed, “I think a memorable experience I had about OLEs was when I was part of ASLC 2019,” he said as he went to two different OLEs. “When we entered the gym where the conference took place for the first time. We were kind of late entering since when we got there, all the other groups were already sitting down. However, in a way, it was a good thing because we were able to see all the groups and the different people that have come from all sorts of countries in Asia. It was quite an experience as immediately after that we had ice breakers and were forced to get to know a lot of strangers. I found it fun and exciting to meet other people and learn about their culture because I never really had an opportunity to do that when I traveled out of the country. I think because of that experience, I was able to look forward to socializing more and even go to more OLEs.”


Jef Fernandez liked going to Universal Studios and enjoyed touring around Singapore. They went to some museums and parks, learned more about the culture there, and were even taught how to filter water.


Mika Llave made several friends when she attended the OLE and she is still in touch with them now. She explained that she has a group chat with the people she met there and still talks to them there.


Just like Mika Llave, Hannah Rendal made friends with whom she still talks now. She also enjoyed the food at 7-Eleven there. According to her, it’s very different from the one in the Philippines.


An Experience of A Lifetime

If the experience we had was a good and helpful one, then most of us would like to suggest or recommend it to other people. The students that went to the OLEs had the same mindset. With that being said, here are some reasons why the students feel this way.


Luke said that he would certainly suggest the APAF OLE if they are willing because others aren’t that financially stable. “If it’s online, I would especially suggest this OLE because it is cheaper, and it’s great for you to get more experiences and interaction with people of different cultures.”

Ada stated that she would recommend this experience to others, as well. Though she was surprised and somewhat unprepared, there were many good opportunities in a very diverse environment.


MJ had similar answers to Ada Mendoza. She said that she would recommend the specific OLE she attended. She also stated that you should have the right mindset, speak up, and go out of your comfort zone in the Yale Model United Nations Taiwan OLE.


Elijah Fernandez told us that he learned many things like leadership and how to empathize with others. He stated that he would recommend this OLE to other people because it is a good experience.


“I recommend the Youth Environmental Summit OLE for people who are interested in environmental policies because raising awareness for something that is real and affecting our planet is good,” said Jef Fernandez. He mentioned that if you do not have any interest in the environment, then other OLEs will be a better experience for you.


“I didn't know that there were opportunities for students to study abroad and I also didn’t know that they were offering foreign scholarships,” said Mika Llave. She mentioned that when she went to the OLE, it was a great experience because she got to learn about different cultures and meet different people.


Hannah Rendall said “Yes! Unlike the other OLEs, this is not focused on academics or diplomacy. But you need to prepare a presentation that shows Philippine culture and other activities. It is just immersing yourself in a new environment and culture and you also get to know many people and learn new things.


Dave Que expressed that he would recommend the two OLEs to others because they offer a more practical and interactive learning experience compared to classroom settings. “I have gone to two OLEs, ASLC and HMCA and through this, I was able to learn a lot by having to talk to and meet a lot of people. I think OLEs help students grow and mature as they put them in situations where students will have to socialize with strangers and work with other ICS grade levels,” explained Dave.


To sum it up


OLE is a great experience for everyone overall and we hope that when life goes back to normal, we can all go on one. It will provide us with more knowledge about other cultures and will help us enhance our social skills. It will create a place for students to voice up their opinions on a matter, showcase their talents or learn about a specific place and interact with other people of different cultures. Most importantly, we will be able to create friendships with people from diverse places. Even if we might not get to experience OLE soon, it’s still something worth looking forward to!


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