On the second floor of Asia Tower lies a small, calm, and serene office. Nestled in the heart of the urban jungle of Makati is an office set up almost like a café. The office is the kind of vibrant space perfect for exchanging creative ideas and figuring out innovative inventions.
The office belongs to non-profit, non-government organization Teach for the Philippines (TFP), which aims to provide all Filipino children access to a inclusive, relevant, and excellent education by the year 2050. It was their office that served as my home throughout the entire month of May.
The TFP café witnessed me battle hard copies of evaluation forms, wrestle with Microsoft Excel codes, succumb to the evil Chocnut Empire, and fall in love with making a difference in the world of education.
I served as an intern in TFP last May for their business development arm. I specifically handled feedback regarding School Year 2014-2015 and possible governmental partnerships for TFP.
To give some background, my university’s academic calendar was shifted from June to March to August to May. Because of this, there was a two-month interlude from April to May wherein there would be no classes or scholastic activities.
Because of this and my workaholic attitude toward life, I decided to find ways I can maximize my time and be productive. I thought, why not go for an internship and get a taste of the real world?
And luckily, TFP did give me an internship. But it also gave me so much more.
As a management engineering (ME) major, I’m practically predestined for the corporate world. I study accounting, finance, operations research, and strategicmanagement en route to leadership positions in top multinationals.
With TFP however, I realized that the skills I learned from ME have applications outside the corporate world. The lessons I’ve learned from information technology management (Microsoft Excel and Visual Basic, basically) were put to use when the business development team evaluated last school year’s feedback.
TFP also gave me the opportunity to see the world of their stakeholders—the Filipino youth—firsthand. I participated in Brigada Eskwela and saw how members of the community came together to prepare the public school for the opening of classes.
I distinctly remember one of the teachers saying she’s served in the school for twenty years and remains steadfast in her commitment to her students.
In my university, I am often been told to be a “man for others.” Brigada Eskwela was one clear concretization of that insignia outside the classroom.
But I guess my most important realization from TFP is that making a difference is not exclusive. There is no technical prerequisite or qualification for it. As TFP’s Chief Strategic Resources Officer Patricia Feria Lim puts it, “all you need is a good mind, a good heart, and a laptop.”
TFP made me realized how diverse skill sets can be united and synergized for a common goal. The interns I worked with hailed from different age groups and degree programs. The actual team of TFP is comprised of wonderful personalities from an array of sectors. And all these different skills and specializations offered a richer flow of ideas and insights.
I signed up for an internship; what I got was an experience of a lifetime.
Thank you for everything, Teach for the Philippines. For the future of Filipino education.
n.b. Photo taken from Sevi’s FB page