Mayfield Filipina-American students host first virtual meeting with Filipinas overseas

Members of Mayfield’s Filipina Affinity group were awarded a prestigious grant to establish an educational and cultural exchange program with students in the Philippines, a significant recognition that speaks to the school’s commitment to promote global education and multiculturalism.
In selecting Mayfield from an international field of entries, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) Executive Director Megan Murphy lauded our students’ vision that “will raise issues of diversity, build relationships through listening and shared experiences, and enhance cultural identity, leadership skills, and personal growth for each girl involved.”
After weeks of planning and jittery anticipation, our students made their first personal contact with the Filipina students at the Maria Droste Training Center in Banawa Hills, Cebu City this week.
The girls had carefully scripted the first meeting via Skype at 5 p.m., Pacific Time,  9 a.m. the next day in the Philippines.
Introductions. Planning. Questions like: “What aspect of Filipino culture do you find that Filipino Americans pride themselves in that native Filipinos may regard as insignificant?”
They were prepared.
But when the camera turned on and our students saw a room full of girls and faces just like them, both sides broke out in cheers.
The younger Filipina girls prepared a hip-hop dance to show off and it soon it felt like a  virtual transPacific party! The high school and college age girls performed a cherished traditional dance to the Santo Nino, the Holy Child, an image of Jesus as a small boy dressed as a king.
The exchange quickly turned into a virtual teenage party.
“What kind of food do you like?” one of our students asked.
“Lechon!” a Filipina student shouted and both schools erupted in cheers over their shared loved for this Filipino pork roast favorite.
“What do you think of the new Miss Universe?” All gave a thumbs up cheer about Catriona Gray, the reigning Miss Philippines who brought home the title last Sunday.
Some audio difficulties cut short the back-and-forth, but more serious talks are planned between the two schools in the New Year.
The Maria Droste Training Center serves children, teenagers and college-age girls and young women who have been rescued from sex trafficking rings or who are children of former sex workers.
Mayfield Campus Minister Teri Gonzales, aware of the center’s work from her past ministry experiences in the Philippines, thought it was a perfect match for the goals of the $1,000 grant. She helped Mayfield students make connections with the Sisters who run the school.

Established by Megan Moulton, NCGS co-founder, the grant aims to help girls develop leadership, fortify their strategic thinking and enhance their global mindfulness by developing empathy and respect for others.

Head of School Kate Morin said the Mayfield students’ “creativity, determination and deep sense of empathy to really get to know, in a meaningful way, students in the Philippines is a living example of our Holy Child ‘Actions Not Words’ philosophy.”

“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Mrs. Morin of this international honor.

When Ms. Gonzales presented the idea to the girls, they were instantly inspired and excited about the prospect of reaching out to girls of their own culture.

“We immediately said yes!” said Julia Domingo ‘21, who spearheaded the Mayfield application. “I was so excited to have this opportunity to maybe make a difference in our affinity and represent the Filipina community at Mayfield.”

Mayfield has used a portion of the grant money to purchase an iPad for their Filipino counterparts and are looking toward upgrading our own computer to improve connectivity to create a virtual, global classroom.

To hear Mayfield students talk about the project is to understand how the meaning of mutual respect and understanding is unfolding in their lives. Originally, the sophomore girls thought they could help the Filipina students with English and math. But given that the other students are already studying these subjects, they turned to a topic that is universal and relevant to all teens—health and wellness.

“I feel that because we are all Filipina we can relate to each other already,” Julia said. “And because we are all teenagers, we face the same struggles, the same social challenges, emotional issues, especially with the stress of school.”

Drawing on Mayfield’s Formation of Self curriculum, the girls are mapping out lessons on teen communication, stress vs. anxiety, healthy vs. toxic relationships, and how to regain confidence after a difficult time.

In turn, our girls hoped the Filipina students could share their gift of the Tagalog language.

“We really want to learn Tagalog so they know how proud we are of our heritage,” said Rebecca Lara ’21. “We want to learn more about it from them so it will always be a part of who we are.”

After their first meeting, Julia is optimistic. “We are going to evolve and continue this and include more people,” Julia said. “This is just the start-up for us!”
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.