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‘Iskolar Para sa Bayan’ 

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By Rachel Queenie Dizon Rodulfo, Contributor

Education, we often hear, is an endless journey, and learning, as we are often told, is a lifelong experience.

The nature of my current work at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), which is about formulating content and messages, entails a lot of reading, research and innovation. This is why I consider it a necessity to further my education and explore other avenues of learning. This would allow me to obtain more knowledge about my field and to subsequently use what I learn for the benefit of my office and my country.

I consider myself fortunate to be an Australia Awards Scholar representing the Philippines.

RODULFO (seated center from left) in one of her stints abroad.

For this I will be attending classes at the University of Sydney.

On this note, I would like to share my experiences and observations that I, along with other scholars from Asia, have had the pleasure of encountering during my first month here in Australia.

I remember the first time I traveled to the Land Down Under. It was in 1996 and I was competing for the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra. I was also able to stay for a few days in Sydney at that time.

Now, after more than two decades, I find myself back in OZ, this time as an Australia Awards Scholar.

This experience has so far been eye-opening. A lot has changed since my first visit in the ‘90s, and the country has evidently gone through vast developments. I witnessed firsthand Australia’s remarkable progress from efficient transportation systems and first-class infrastructure and roads to clean environment and the residents’ love for nature. I am even amazed by the local’s observing and following traffic rules and regulations. Their appreciation and respect for the aboriginals, the traditional owners of their land, is commendable and something I hope will also happen in a multi-ethnic society such as ours.

And upon knowing more about its government’s remarkable social welfare programs, I could not help but wonder if all these can be done in my home country, hopefully the soonest. I, along with millions of other Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world, believe that we now have a shot at attaining these genuine changes with a more enlightened citizenry demanding efficient delivery of government services from those who wield power.

With fellow Australia Awards Scholars.

Furthermore, gender equality is very much alive in this part of the globe. In the current Philippine set-up, our society is sadly not as receptive to gender sensitivity as Australian communities are, although we are notably going towards the right direction in terms of gender equality, especially in the workplace.

I see my current work in the government as an opportunity to create and roll out a system to effectively address our nation’s issues regarding gender sensitivity. Upon the completion of my study, I aim to bring home to the country established guidelines on gender language sensitivity, which would educate our people in the media and in the government towards a more open and accepting society by 2022.

Studying and living overseas is not a walk in the park, especially for students who have families and loved ones left in their own countries. I, myself, am a wife and mother to four young children. This entails sacrifice on our part, but the benefits we would reap at the end of the study serve as our guiding light. I am sure this sentiment is shared by my fellow scholars.

We aim to duplicate and apply exemplary practices that we witness here, guided by our altruistic attitude of paying back and contributing to our country’s nation-building by making a mark in our respective studies. I share with them the same viewpoint in this entire experience.

This week is the beginning of our regular classes. The ultimate goal is to pay it forward, not only by being good, law-abiding Filipino citizens, but also by being global citizens.

Allow me now to take this opportunity to thank the following: Milalin Javellana, Nayra Simeon and Enna Enriquez of the Australia Awards Philippines for helping fellow Filipinos in reaching their dreams to create change and make an impact in our society.

Making a difference in the global sphere and working towards the common good are our shared aim and aspiration as scholars for the nation.

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Rachel Rodulfo studied at the Arellano Law School. She worked at TV5, One Mega Group and GMA Network.

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