Published: 30 January 2024
AFAS Immersion is back after covid season!
From November 23-December 7, 2023 26 members of the Villanova Community from Brisbane embarked on an immersion to the islands of The Philippines (Cebu and Bacolod, Negros Occidental). There were 21 senior students (a mixed number of year 11s and 12s)who committed to complete their service-learning experiences in the campus through AFAS (Australian Filipino Augustinian Solidarity) Ministry by joining the international immersion program. The 5 staff members (Kate Garrone, Amanda Waterson, Adrian Hellwig, Terry Gaffney and Fr Saldie) accompanied the delegation of mostly newbies to international travel. We all stayed in variety of accommodation from a 2-star hotel (La Fortuna in Cebu) to a 3-star mountain resort (Mambukal in Murcia, Negros Occidental)then to the university student accommodation (CSA-Bacolod) and in a 4-star hotel (L’Fisher in Bacolod)to finish the leg of immersion. Safely and securely returned to Brisbane with a changed heart and new perspectives in living and loving.
Here are the collected reflections from most of the participants detailing the impressions and impact of the immersion program in their lives:
“In all these encounters though, it was individuals within these communities that will live most in my memories – inspiring community leaders, a little old lady who wore her favourite hat to honour our visit. The little boy drumming on a stick of bamboo to welcome us to his village, the brightly smiling child as we dished out ice-cream at a feeding program, the old priest who had dedicated his life to serving the people – regardless of the personal cost to him, the university student struggling with family and her identity, and the countless others who sought nothing other than to make us feel welcome and to help us share in their joy at our encounter with each other. In conclusion I can only say that life is now so much the richer.”
Adrian Hellwig (Staff Member; Villanova College Counsellor)
“AFAS 2023 undoubtedly served as a pivotal moment for us from Villanova college being introduced to new friendships and offered glimpses into diverse lifestyles in The Philippines. It’s within these interactions that one can truly grasp the importance of empathy, understanding, and the value of selfless service. Let me use my favourite quote from Muhammad Ali, he said, “Your service to others is the rent you pay for the room you have on this earth,”. As we navigate life, these experiences (2023 AFAS immersion) continue to resonate, urging us to pay our rent on this earth through meaningful service to others.” Joey, (year 12)