Berkeley School Baguio is a relatively new institution in Baguio City, only founded in 2002. It has a student roll of 800 from preschool to high school, 90% of which are Filipinos. The Principal, Mr. Alfonso Astudillo, takes pride in his students being confident young learners that can handle themselves in today’s globalizing world.
In September 2016, Sister Schools New Zealand’s CEO, Mr. Matthew Harris, met with Mr. Astudillo to discuss international objectives. It was agreed upon by both parties that a short term cultural program to New Zealand in 2017 was a great starting point to a collaboration.
SSNZ explained that these programs are a way of introducing Filipino students to an education system that is modern, responsive, and extremely well-resourced, so that students can aim to achieve greater things.
“It is extremely exciting to be able to give students from lesser-known cities, like Baguio, a chance to travel to New Zealand” said Mr. Harris during the initial meeting with Mr. Astudillo.
After a few months of planning, in January 2017, the presentation of the 2017 New Zealand Cultural Program for Berkeley School Baguio took place in the school auditorium.
Approximately 150 high school students listened eagerly to Mr Harris’ presentation, which was very interactive- students were impressed upon seeing the Haka dance for the first time, as demonstrated by Mr. Harris himself.
During the Q&A portion, students asked about New Zealand’s culture, practices and interests- a very inquisitive bunch! A few parents were present as well and were very much interested in the rare opportunity for their kids. One even asked if parents were allowed to join! (Unfortunately, they are not..)
At the end of the presentation, SSNZ spoke again with Mr. Astudillo and he thanked the organization for offering this opportunity to the school, saying “The willingness of the students to go is there. This is a good opportunity for them to experience a different learning environment”.
At the time of writing, 6 students from Berkeley School Baguio have already signed up for the program, which will take place from the 19th to the 30th of November 2017.