Hanna Fernando-Pacua (PHILIPPINES) temporarily leaves her comfort zone to travel, serve, and perform around the world in five months. She hopes to share with you this very meaningful experience.

Up with People provides students with an extraordinary semester of traveling the world. As a student your perspectives on the world will never be the same. UWP is for that certain student who's looking for an intense, hands-on, involved global educational experience. The program addresses the very real need for young adults and leaders who have global perspectives, intercultural understanding, knowledge of worldwide social issues, leadership skills and a dedication to community service. For more information, visit www.upwithpeople.org.

HANNA's SATTELITE SITE and GALLERY (+ photos, videos, calendar) http://www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Maximizing UWP's Impact in Developing Countries

April 30, 2008

Dear Up With People colleagues,

Hi! My name is Hanna Fernando-Pacua , 26 years old from the Philippines. I traveled with Cast B 2007 last year and it was the greatest experience I ever had. I would like to thank everyone in UWP who made it possible. I couldn’t have done it without your encouragement and support.

I consider myself very blessed to have been awarded a very, very significant UWP scholarship. (Up to now I still find it unbelievable…) If I were to convert the USD 12,000.00 fee to Philippine peso considering the 2008 average exchange rate:

$1.00 = PHP 41.00
$12,000 = PHP 492,000

(when I traveled in 2007, the exchange rate was PHP 52.00 to a dollar!!!)

What can people in my country get for half a million Philippine Pesos ?

Aside from being able to pay the down payment for a house and lot or being able to buy a brand new car … P500,000.00 could also afford :

4 years of college education for 2 students (plus some allowances…) at the country’s premiere state university

10 modest but brand new houses for the poor through the Gawad Kalinga program

4 public high schools provided with internet access and enough computers to improve education delivery through the Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access (GILAS) program

I remember saying in my scholarship application that I would have to give up my UWP slot if I was not given a significant amount. The tuition , for a common Filipino – is simply too much to handle. It was almost sinful to ask for so much money for one person when it could do so much for so many!

Because of the beautiful experience I had with UWP, I am really hopeful that many other deserving young Filipinos will be able to travel. I have been making a career in social development even before UWP – and I think the program would encourage more students to go into this field.

Ever since I returned to my country, I have done some interviews for admissions and also a few presentations about UWP. Based on my experience with working with youth leaders in the Philippines, the potential for interested and of-quality applicants is really unbelievable! But the main issue here is the financial need. Especially now that the fees have increased to $14,000, not including additional expenses such as plane fares and VISA fees.

For lack of a better phrase, “my heart aches” as I interview promising students who worry about the huge financial barrier or as I see young people’s enthusiasm fade once they learn about the tuition fees and other expenses involved.

Even the standard answers I learned from my travel year for the “How much would it cost me ?” questions during admissions presentations won’t do the trick in the Philippines. It is just simply too much for young people to digest (who are most probably fresh graduates or just starting their careers) in our country. Even experienced organizations find it hard to raise half a million Philippine pesos for well-advertised causes. However, I am still trying my best to assist the qualified students in their fundraising and have come up with a resource mobilization manual with “Philippine flavor” (please email me so I can send you a copy)

Perhaps, we can target well-off families and exclusive schools in the Philippines? Let us not close the door on this possibility, but then take note that those who can afford the tuition only make up a small percentage of the Philippine population. I also believe that UWP education should not only be for those who can afford it but for those who deserve it, value it, and for those who will use it well.

I dream of more young people getting the same exhilarating experience that I had when I traveled with UWP. I see this happening by getting more Filipinos to participate with the International cast, or by bringing UWP’s experiential learning experience closer to home.

  1. Proposal for the establishment of the Up With People Developing Country Scholarship/ Subsidy Fund– allotment of a specific amount of funds for students from developing / 3rd world countries.

- can be a special fund window separate from the UWP Alumni Association scholarship that specifically targets developing countries

- would increase the possibilities for more participants from developing countries which may lead to more diverse casts and richer inter-cultural learning experiences

- appointed committees or regional offices can establish specific criteria for students

- would enable students/ potential students set realistic financial goals

- another approach is to make program more ‘selective’ and accepting limited applications so fundraising can be more focused towards the fees of ‘the chosen few’

  1. Proposal for an Up With People Developing Country Program – develop a UWP-prescribed Curriculum and Model designed for developing countries.

- Similar goals with UWP but for a more local setting. It’s “knowing one’s own backyard” This could be a division of UWP or implemented in partnership with a local company/ organization. (A local cast can be formed that travels around the country for a certain period of time spreading the message of peace and service. They also partner with local groups, stay with host families, etc..)

- Local setting means localized and more reachable expenses. Financial goals could be more realistic for students, sponsors and potential donors.

- Operations to be supported or endorsed by UWP international but local resource mobilization should also be in place

- This program could maintain its global flavor through international speakers and interaction with the main program of UWP. (i.e. International Cast to meet/ perform with Local Cast)

- Replicating the experiential learning process on the local level enabling more young people to experience it.

- Continuity and sustainability of community impact programs in developing countries, not to mention the publicity and media value for UWP as a whole.

- Building lasting relationships with communities, NGOs and sponsors

- Create a pool of outstanding leaders that has great potential to travel with an international cast of UWP.

- Opportunity for Up With People to empower communities and organizations and create a lasting impact in developing countries

The possibilities are endless! I am sure, if crafted well – the Developing Country Program can catch the attention of local sponsoring institutions. I hope you will be able to help me echo my wishes for the young people of the Philippines and other developing countries.

Imagine the potential global impact Up with People would have if we open up these windows of opportunities and create a multiplier effect on students, organizations and communities.

Please help me develop these ideas and make it a reality. Who are the right people to write for UWP to consider supporting these proposals? I am really open to discuss further these possibilities – please feel free to contact me through my email hanna.fernando@gmail.com , mobile phone +63 917 5201888 or we can arrange a call through Yahoo Messenger or Skype.


Hanna Fernando-Pacua

Up With People Cast B 2007

Education Intern and Advance Team member for Prenzlau, Germany