English 165 AK
GROWING FILIPINO STUDENTS: THE DEVELOPING LEARNING COMMUNITY
“Throughout history, Filipinos have been influenced by foreigners… when one analyzes the educational experiences of Filipinos in the Philippines and in the United State, it is clear that one needs to consider the colonial past of the Filipinos” (Litton 83). The United States has played an important part in establishing an education system. However, over the years, education still pales in comparison to what was already established and developed in the United States. Naturally, parents and relatives would bring or send their sons and daughters to study in the States to search for a higher education. Unfortunately, students from the Philippines already encounter problems during their arrival. For the students that do arrive in the States for a college education, they often need to retake a year of high school or take course where they have no interest or knowledge in. More often than not, they usually can’t relate to the material in class and sometimes have difficult times passing the class. However, with the development of Filipino learning communities, like the Kababayan Program at Skyline College, students are able to relate to their English and sociology classes with past and present issues in the Philippines. Issues from the Philippines are no different than any political, economical, or social issues from anywhere in the world. Which is why they have an easier time finding topics to relate to. Paul Victoria, a former Kababayan Student at Skyline, was one of the first students to enter the program and take all the classes it had to offer. Interviewing him and hearing his story of leaving the Philippines and growing up in California helped me learn what a majority of students are going through as they enter college. The interview also helped give me some insight of how learning communities like the Kababayan Program are actually beneficial in all college campuses for Filipino Students. With the development of the Kababayan Program, Filipino students are able to relate topics and experiences that they learn in the Kababayan English classes and use what they learn in other classes such as history, psychology, and sociology.
Ever since the colonization of the Philippines by America, Filipinos were given the image that everything, especially education, is better in the United States. For years, we have had a number of influences from American colonization from fashion to government. For education, middle and upper class families would send their sons and daughters to the United States because of what they have given in the past. They develop a mentality that anything American is superior. In my experience and what I hear among my relatives, Philippine college courses are limited in selection and what they can major in an decide as a career. I have relatives that are currently thinking about transferring to a college campus in the United States because she felt that there aren’t enough career choices in the college that she goes to in the Philippines. What they have researched in the Internet and other college campuses abroad, they have discovered that college in the United States have better options and majors that they are interested in taking that are not available to them in the local college campuses in the Philippines. I hear the similar stories from my friends that are all over the United States as well. The interest of education among Filipinos that I am close to are often from their interest and the interest of their parents.
Parents from Filipino families often define education as an investment placed on their children that continuously grows depending on their interest in the receiving a higher education. According to the article, Pamantasan by Jonathan Y. Okamura and Amefil R. Agbayani, “there is no question concerning the Filipino value placed on education, particularly higher education, which parents view as the best legacy they can bestow on their children for the latter’s future socioeconomic security” (Root 184). It is common for any family to value education when both the student and the parents show some interest. However, what’s interesting is when students first enter college, they often have no idea what to major in and what career path they can take for the rest of their life. Most times, the parents pick their path for them but at times they don’t have an interest on that path. This is what causes them to have difficulties with their classes and fail. Choosing a major and adjusting to the college experience are often one of the most difficult times for most freshmen students, especially students that have recently moved from the Philippines.
The creation of learning communities develop an enjoyable college experience. For Paul Victoria, former Kababayan student and one of the first students to test out the program, his class was the “experimental class”. The program was still new and fresh but organized enough to still be taken as a class. According to Paul, “[he] didn’t know much about Filipinos in America” (Paul Victoria, April 21). He only learned about general Filipino history and remembered what he was taught back when he was still studying in the Philippines before he moved to the United States. Before he joined the Kababayan program, his mentality was strictly to take his classes and leave. He knew he was there for class and not to make friends. However, going through the class, he not only able to learn more about his heritage and culture, but he also learned more about himself and found a support group within his classmates in the program.
The Kababayan Program also creates supportive student communities that learn from each other. Experiencing the program myself for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would be learning from this class. The difference between the classes within the program and other classes that I have taken is that the instructor, Liza Erpelo doesn’t only teach her class but she gives in an extra effort for people in the class to know each other more. A similar experience that Paul and I enjoyed in the 846 English Kababayan class were the projects. We both got to work with different people and eventually bonded with each other. Going through the other English classes, chances are that the same people that was in your first English class, is taking the same secondary class whether it’s English 100, English 110, or English 165. Other courses such as the kulintang class and English 104 aka the PCN class creates subclasses within the same English classes in the same learning community. These classes are able to relate to each other and build their own student communities where they can place their support and trust on to go on further in their college education. Possibly, the same students that they first meet in the Kababayan program will be the same classmates they will have when they transfer to the same four-year college.
Being in the Kababayan program myself and taking most of the classes, I can relate to Paul’s experience with my own. The program and the people involved with it helped me with my college goals and experience more than anyone will ever know. Living in the United States for only 2 years, I learned a lot of things. Most of them came from my peers in the program, the friends that I have made from the classes, and from the mentors themselves that have taught me. As Paul said, “the Kababayan program is not just about teaching you the history of Filipinos, but its also about building a community. It’s called the learning community, where everyone supports each other including the staff and the students for the success of the student… as much as I am teaching them, I’m actually learning more”. I feel the same way about the students, being a peer mentor for the English 846 and 100 classes. As I went through these classes, the experiences that I have gone through, I share with the students as well as the mentors and instructors. I wouldn’t call them my “mentees” or “mentors” because we are all at the same level. We learn from each other and learn something new each time we meet. I think it’s more appropriate to call them my friends, as a part of my community and my family.
Brainard, Cecilia Manguerra and Litton, Edmundo F. Journey of 100 years.
San Francisco: Tiboli Press, 1999.
Espiritu, Yen Le. Homebound. California: University of California press, 2003.
Root, Maria P.P. Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity. USA:
Sage Publications, 1997.
Victoria, Paul. Personal Interview. April 21, 2007