08 JUNE 2022
WASHINGTON D.C. – The 24-member student delegation from Mindanao, Philippines visited the Philippine Embassy on June 07, 2022, as part of their educational field trip in Washington D.C. Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. and Consul General Iric C. Arribas welcomed the youth leaders to the Embassy and had a productive exchange on several topics. The delegation likewise performed a lively cultural show for the Embassy personnel.
The delegation is currently in the United States under the Philippine Youth Leadership Program (PYLP) of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) and is led by their NIU Program Director Ms. Rhodalyne Gallo-Crail. They will soon be heading home to the Philippines to hopefully put to practice the knowledge they have learned under the PYLP as aspiring future leaders of the country.
PYLP is a leadership development exchange that offers Philippine secondary students ages 15-17 years old and adult mentors from Mindanao for a four-week training in the United States. PYLP focuses on responsible citizenship, civic leadership, community development, and project management. This initiative is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the Northern Illinois University in the U.S. and University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) in Mindanao, Philippines. It is a youth exchange program that aims to empower young people and establish long-lasting ties between the Philippines and the U.S. Since its inception in 2004, PYLP has produced more than 420 Filipino youth alumni.
“Your visit and interactions in the United States will certainly contribute to promoting people-to-people ties between the Philippines and the U.S. I also hope your trip here will inspire you to become dedicated leaders of our country.” said DCM Ascalon in his welcoming remarks.
The discussion that followed focused on overall PH-US relations, the Embassy’s role and initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to start a career in the Philippine foreign service.
DCM Ascalon also encouraged the students to pursue a career in foreign service: “It is a challenging profession, since you will be handling political, economic, and several specialized issues on international law, climate change, etc, but at the same time rewarding because you will be serving the Filipino people.”
ConGen Arribas, in emphasizing the students’ backgrounds as Mindanaons, added that “Being a diplomat actually involves a lot of interpersonal relations so if you choose to become a diplomat, you would be representing your country but you would also be representing yourself as a person…As Filipinos, we are also diverse in terms of culture, in terms of religion, in terms of language…If you will enrich the Philippine foreign service with your religious and cultural backgrounds, then just imagine how powerful the Filipino foreign service could be.”
DCM Ascalon also took the opportunity to ask the young leaders what message they would want to convey to the international community as a Filipino and Mindanaon. They shared that they are proud of both the country’s diversity and of their own individual identity which they believe is an important unifying factor for Filipinos. Furthermore, it was their general sentiment that the global community should know, learn, and understand developments in the Bangsamoro government and Muslim Mindanao.
More information on the PYLP can be found via their website at https://pylp.org/ ###