In Search of Future Bennies and Johnnies in the Philippines!

Around ManilaForeign Service Life
October 22, 2009

csbsju-logoCSB Main Hall

There are few things in the world that I’m more passionate about then my undergraduate experience at the College of St. Benedict (CSB) and its partner institution, St. John’s University (SJU).  To this day, I’ve never encountered another community quite like it.  My growth during that period was astronomical and I’m still uncovering the foundational shifts that took place for me over those 4 years of bliss.  You know how when you discover something so wonderful, you just have to share it with someone else?  Well, that’s exactly how I feel about the CSB/SJU experience.  I know that it’s not right for everyone, yet I know that for the right person it’s PURE MAGIC.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes the experience so unique, but some of my favorite influences were definitely the Christian spirituality base, the deep reverence for community and the commitment to life-long learning.  Another group of people that had a profound impact on me were the international students – ones that I met on campus or during my time abroad in Greece and Italy.  CSB/SJU has made a real commitment to increasing the international population (currently 8% of students) and I decided that that’s where I wanted to focus my efforts as an overseas alum.

I went to the International Student Admissions Representative, Roger Young, and asked to be trained as a rep so that I could go recruit at some of the schools in Manila.  I spent time preparing by reading up on the current stats and organizing the recruitment brochures that were mailed to my home here.  I completed 3 visits over the last week and I can’t even begin to describe how rewarding it was!  I went to 2 International schools and 1 Private High School for Filipino students.  I had the chance to have 1-on-1 conversations with 7 different students, many of whom were incredibly interested in the unique attributes of the school (and not afraid of a little snow)!  I also had audiences with the guidance counselor teams at each location, building relationships that will hopefully lead to them recommending the school to more and more students each year.

My favorite part of the experience was witnessing the students’ excitement (and fear) around starting this new part of their life.  I could tell that the fact that I was an alum (and not a paid member of the institition) really resonated with the millenial generation, as it spoke to the authenticity of my experience and the fact that I wanted this for other people.  My favorite comment was, “I can’t believe you really gave me your cell phone number!”  What an incredible way for me to feel connected to the current generation that’s coming into the Colleges.  So much for the excuse that living halfway around the world has to impact how involved you can be!

Next up, figuring out a way to create a program for other overseas Alums to do this for the countries that they’re currently residing in!  Just think of the International students we could reach as a collective group!!  Stay tuned for more updates on my Filipino prospective students…

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