Republic of the Philippines

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New Zealand educators help open up huge vista of learning through book donation and other linkages with schools from the Philippines

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At the Gala Dinner celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Asia New Zealand Foundation on 30 October 2014 in Auckland, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and Honorary Consul General Paulo Garcia met Ms. Prue Elwood, Educator Programmes Developer and Coordinator, AFS Intercultural Programmes who shared the educational and community connections that her husband, Mr. Howard Young forged with schools in Batangas and Quezon City when he was in the Philippines as a recipient of the Asia New Zealand Foundation/AFS educator exchange scholarship programme. It was so heart-warming and inspiring to know that in the three weeks that he was there, Howard made good friends and became close to Filipino students, families and communities and recognized the huge importance that Filipinos accord to education as a key to the upliftment of lives and a pathway to a better and brighter future for the people. Coming back to New Zealand, the book donation project which his class at Greenacres School implemented in 2013 is another exemplary collaborative effort to help make a tangible difference in the learning experiences and demonstrate the caring and sharing spirit very much evident in the hearts and minds of students, teachers, parents and the wider community here. The article below captures such kindness and generosity:

“Wellington school helps books find new home in the Philippines

“The Asia New Zealand/AFS educator scholarships give educators the chance to experience three weeks of school and home life in an Asian country.

“Scholarship recipient Howard Young, from Greenacres School, visited the Philippines, and came away with a plan for his students to send much-needed books to three education institutions in the Southeast Asian country. He explains the project.

“The Greenacres School project for the Philippines

““I don’t think I can help people in another country!” That was the comment made by one of the students in my year 2 and 3 class at Greenacres School when I suggested we send some books to schools in the Philippines.

“The idea for this project came after I travelled to the Philippines on an Asia New Zealand Foundation/AFS educator exchange scholarship in July 2010. While I was away I visited many fantastic schools, and I also saw how expensive books were to buy. As I scanned the titles and converted the currencies in the National Bookshop in Quezon City, it occurred to me that every year parents at my school give books to be sold at the gala or as part of a garage sale. So why not have them donate books to people who would really appreciate them.

“Why not indeed! Shortly after my return to New Zealand my class and I held community information afternoons for both the parents and other members of our school, introducing them to the Filipino culture and also to our idea. The community then swung into action donating over one hundred pre-loved books.

“This presented us with the additional problem of how to get them to the schools, but again my class had the answer. We held an ice cream day to raise funds. This seemed an appropriate fundraiser as ice cream is something that is loved dearly in the Philippines, including the most stunning-looking purple ice cream made from cheese.

“Having successfully raised the postage, all that remained was to package the books up and send them off. Once we had included a few small items for the students of Hope Christian School, University of Batangas and Claret School of Quezon City to enjoy, we closed up the boxes for the last time and shipped them away.

“As a conclusion to this successful project my class and I reflected on what we had learnt from this experience. Some things were obvious such as the songs and dances that we had learnt when preparing the initial presentation, others were slightly hidden such as the letter writing skills and budgeting.

“But the best indicator of the learning from this task was the understanding that we live in a big world and that by building relationships with schools in other countries such as the Philippines we can help each other to develop greater understanding of one another’s cultures.

“Finally, after three months of work, my class had their answer. They could help people in another country!” (source:

The Philippine Embassy in Wellington and the Philippine Consulate General in Auckland look forward to engaging more closely with Prue and Howard who is now a Senior Teacher/Syndicate Leader at the South Wellington Intermediate School in strengthening and sharing culture, teaching, students’ experiences and classroom interaction between the Philippines and New Zealand. “For both our countries, education is a major resource around which we can build a lifetime and connect with each other in a deeper and more meaningful way,” Ambassador Benavidez stated

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