Halo-Halo World founder and chief story teller Jan Vincent Ong shares his experience working with our Grade 3 and Grade 4 scholars.
The Mano Amiga Magic is in Humility: Kids teaching us our basic ABCs
I am a former executive for a non profit that dealt with creating peace education programs for many public schools in Manila and Mindanao. Thus, I’ve been exposed to the culture of various academic administrations. The constant is that their always opposition or skepticism to placing a new program into a curriculum. Yet, there is always one champion to rally your program into it. In relation to Mano Amiga Academy, the difference is that everyone is a champion of change.
Everyone is a changemaker. From Principal Rev to Teacher Anne, each person is willing to humbly listen to anyone coming to their door and who wants to collaborate for a better school. This is the reason that I approached Mano Amiga to develop a digital children’s book for their kids with them. I wasn't fearful that my ideas would be shot down at all. There would be a true creative collaboration that put the kids first.
My expectations weren't wrong. The program I proposed would be to make a book made by the teachers for their kids. Yet, it surprisingly and wonderfully turned into a Filipino alphabet book made by the kids themselves to teach other kids their ABCs.
Hence, the outcome was better than imagined as the book was given to full ownership by the students themselves. The kids drawing and coloring would hone their artistic talent in creating the book. Also, it would be proof of their mastery in the subject that they would be able to share it with the younger grades. And for the adults, we would be taught that making a book isn’t so difficult. It only takes daily diligence to create works of art. After the idea for the book was planned out, I coordinated online with teacher Sheryll, Kean and Anne on regular basis to monitor the progress of the book. I was always excited to open my emails to see how the illustrations brought to life by the students.
However, I only truly understood Mano Amiga’s mission when I recorded the student’s voices for them to say the words within the book.
As I taught them how to record their voice on a computer, their eyes lit up so bright and even more so when they heard themselves back. It was an experience that we both would never forget.. Then, I completely saw that Mano Amiga was more than only tackling physical poverty. Its mission is to give their students true leverage by bringing them out of the poverty of experience. It is the lift them up by exposing them to experiences that bring them to new and better chapters in their lives. As such, I also understood why their teachers are so humble to listen to volunteers that can add to this experience.
This is why I am filled with gratitude to be part of their story as they grow up to be change makers themselves and will continue to read about the ongoing narrative of this school. I hope that my life intertwines with the kids again in the future in making the best Philippines that there can be. #