The Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), through the Ateneo Internationalization for Mindanao (AIM) Office and Arrupe Office of Social Formation (AOSF), and the University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific (UMAP), hosted the Discovery Camp with the service-learning framework entitled: “Gonô Bong Tëkuy: Our Common Home, Our Common Humanity (Meaningful Mindanawon Encounters in Service-Learning),” from August to September 2022 via Zoom video conference. 

The Discovery Camp Program was fully sponsored by UMAP, an association of Higher Education Institutions, government, and NGO partners in the Asia Pacific region. It is an immersive intercultural experience offered during the summer/winter months. Discovery camps enabled UMAP member institutions to showcase their countries and cultures to students from across the UMAP network. ADDU had been chosen to host one of the three (with Universitas Airlangga in Indonesia and the University of Regina in Canada) UMAP Discovery Camp programs offered this year. The Discovery Camps from Indonesia (in-person) and Canada (hybrid) were conducted in the previous months. Finally, the ADDU-UMAP Discovery Camp successfully conducted its iteration this September.

The ADDU Discovery Camp is a 4-week service-learning program with specific emphasis on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for Quality Education (4), Climate Action (13), and for Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (16). These are SDGs that are focal advocacies of ADDU when it comes to student formation and the multicultural context of Mindanao.

This particular cycle of Discovery Camp gathered collaborators and students from ADDU and UMAP international and local partnerships to encounter Mindanao through the service-learning framework and design thinking process. The camp also featured local and international resource speakers whose expertise provided the participants with meaningful inputs and stories which inspired them in the development of their project proposals dedicated to and in service of the local partner community in Mindanao. This August cycle of the Discovery Camp was conducted fully online in its service and learning aspects, as well as the immersion with the Tboli Sbù Senior High School in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

The Discovery Camp, especially with its current theme of Gonô Bong Tëkuy (i.e. Tboli word that literally means our big home), shared with the participants the deep feeling as they encounter the multicultural nature of Mindanao. While they were discovering new aspects of different cultures, they were also able to experience the program as something revelatory of their own realities and their own hopes for their community, as well as the universality of the values we share for peacebuilding and compassion as human beings for our common home–the earth.

As products of their learning experiences from the program, the participants were able to realize project proposals as a call to action for the SDGs on peace, quality education, and climate action for our common home and humanity. The proposals were developed collaboratively with the local partner community, the Tboli Sbù Senior High School in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, and were presented to a panelist and assessed for their parameters (i.e. feasibility, viability, desirability, and replicability) in a Pitching Activity on 29 September 2022.

Despite the limitations of the online format, the program championed and elevated the experience of an online learning community into something formative and meaningful. Ultimately, the Discovery Camp has made the most out of this intercultural space for dialogue, reflection, and service. To celebrate this 4-week program’s success, the Culminating Activity was conducted on 30 September 2022.

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