New Study Abroad Option in the Philippines: Casa Bayanihan

Courtesy of Evelyn Obamos

Courtesy of Evelyn Obamos

Nothing falls short for a student to take learning to another level at USF. Why not take a leap into the unknown and come back with a new perspective next semester.

USF, in collaboration with The Casa Educational Network, is offering a semester abroad called Casa Bayanihan, which translates to house cooperative endeavor.

Casa Bayanihan invites participants to a unique life zest, some may not be familiar with, but may be curious to discover without reading from a book. The quest requires a trip across the pacific to the Jesuit Ateneo de Manila University.

Through the program, USF students will be immersed into a supportive living-learning community founded on pillars of accompaniment, spirituality, and academics in the Philippines.

Currently there is one USF student officially registered for the program. Three other USF students await application approval from the two Co-Directors, Grace Carlson and Heidi Kallen. Four other students, from different Jesuit universities in the United States, will also be attending, totaling eight for the semester if all students are accepted.

Sharon Li, director of the Center for Global Education said, “The new deadline is set for December, 2nd due to the exciting scholarship notice that came out recently.”

An anonymous donation will provide a scholarship that covers 12 to 18 units of tuition, plus room and board.
“Students need to be in the Philippines before January 23rd for the first day of class and return May 23rd .”

Regarding what makes this study abroad program unique, Li said, “The program really does foster transformation… It’s a different type of challenge because students are participating in communal living, group activities, and students have to be willing to participate.”

Elaborating on the types of group activities, Li said students can expect to take part in cooking, cleaning, team building, and group reflections quite frequently.

Li also emphasized the wellness of students, discussing what students have gained from the experience. One anecdote a student shared with Li was spending the weekend traveling to the outskirts where students communed with indigenous people.
“Students have expressed a deeper sense of humility and compassion, but also a sense of serving the community even more after returning home,” Li said.

Having the chance to study under nontraditional circumstances offers many opportunities. Students can dive into a rich culture—have a chance to be a part of a community, work through challenges, and come back to serve in their own communities.
Senior Evelyn Obamos attended a shorter eight week Philippines summer program in 2010. She said one of the reasons that motivated her was her desire to explore her Filipino roots.

Quoting Filipino reform advocate, Jose Rizal, Obamos said, “S/He who does not know how to look back at where he or she came from will never get to her/his destination.”

Obamos added, “I wanted to dig deep into my Filipino roots. As a second-generation Filipino there were some gaps between my culture and identity that I was trying to bridge…the opportunity presented itself perfectly and I was able to get financial support for it.”

On her identification as Filipino-American, Obamos said she finds her story similar to other ethnic backgrounds.
“There are several layers to cultural identity. We have our individual culture that’s in our blood, and there is the culture around us that’s nurtured through assimilation.

Being able to bridge the two is still something I’m learning how to do…Everybody shares a common struggle of discovering who they are,” Obamos said.

Casa Bayanihan is a method to accompany students on that journey.

For more detailed information on the course syllabus and application process for Casa Bayanihan visit


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