Promoting a learning culture among students in Cebu City
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Introduction
I joined this programme hoping that I would be able to experience a new culture, environment and people from the new country I was going to visit. Although to my dismay, I was assigned to a country where I was somewhat familiar with already, which was Philippines. I am a Filipino, born and raised in Manila and I migrated to Singapore when I was primary 3. Philippines was definitely not a foreign country to me but I was not familiar with Cebu city and its culture so initially, I thought this trip I was not going to learn much about my country so I was not really expecting much new things.
At the start of this trip, I really did not want to go. Prior to the trip I just finished a major event which was Freshman Orientation Camp and I was still very attached to the event and I was not ready for another important event in my life. I really felt that I did not need to go for this trip because it was only two weeks and how many memories and friends can I make in just two weeks right? But I was proved wrong. Thus, because of this mind-set, I was really unwilling to learn and also open myself at first to my teammates, initially when I did try to open myself to my other teammates, it felt very forced and fake. Thus the start of the trip was quite rough for me.

My impressions on my group at first was quite negative. I thought the people who signed up for LeX was adventurous and extroverted, those who wanted a different experience than sitting down in classrooms for 2 hours a week listening to a teacher. I had this impression on my teammates but when I met them, they were just like me. Unprepared individuals who just want to get this done and over with so that we get the module completed.

The Project

Our ‘Mission’ was to help the students at Cebu Normal University solve a problem. Our group was given a task to promote a learning culture among students. First of all, we need to look at the students of Cebu Normal University. The age range of students at CNU were about from 17 to 22 years old but some were older. All of them studied different types of courses from general education to nursing to architecture to fine arts. No one student was the same but according to the lecturers at CNU they said that once they graduate, they were to be teachers teaching the course that they have just accomplished. Most of the students were mostly in the lower class of society and thus most of them had part time jobs even while studying. A popular job was to be a student assistant to the faculty in the school so that they could afford to pay off their tuition fees.
It would make sense why promoting a learning culture amongst these students would be critical, so that in the future they would instil a good learning culture amongst their students. What is learning culture? It consists of your methods to study and absorb knowledge, your ability to manage time and work and your mind set towards learning. According to our interviews, most of the students of CNU already value their education and they want to make the most out of it, but the problem that the students now is some do not know how to make the most out of it.

There are many ways that the students do not have a proper learning culture, the most common one being a lack of time management. This is because they do not how to prioritise their time and also when they do set themselves to do something, they will easily get distracted. Their place of study does not contribute to helping them concentrate while studying. This is why our need statement is ‘I need to be motivated and have a culture that minimizes me being distracted in order to reach my goals’.
We believe they need motivation to be able to do. They need to set a goal in order to have motivation to do work on that goal. They need to be less distracted to not lose faith in achieving their goals. We believe that if we devise a plan to keep them from being distracted and working towards their goals, they would be having a proper learning culture to work towards their goals.

Our solution to the need and problem? BINGoals. BINGoals is a system where students will write their goals down at the start of their academic year. They will have to write down 5 goals for 5 categories which are giving back to society, Other Skills, academic, leadership and seminars. These 25 goals are represented 25 boxes in which they have an academic year to achieve at least 5 in a row, column or diagonal row. If they do achieve this, they will get a certificate of recognition which helps your portfolio.
Overall
I feel that I was wrong to have said that I will not experience anything throughout this trip. I have met new friends, learned something new about my country and also experience and learn the culture of Cebu. I have learned to be more independent and responsible thru experiencing the trip without my parents and also without their supervision with the money I have. I have respected my teammates more as at first I thought they were very shy and not keen on opening up but I was wrong after the two weeks. They showed me that all of my teammates very open to learning about other cultures and actually curious to try new things such as ride the jeepney and eat balut(duck embryo).
Cebu has been a beautiful city. It taught me to be thankful of all the things that I have in Singapore. It made me realise that I am lucky to live in Singapore with all the amenities I have, and while solving our problem statement, it taught me to be more thankful of my first-world education here in Singapore.

Figure 1 – the first time our group met with the CNU students at Tanadang Sora Hall, we were all quite awkward

Figure 2 – me hosting a mind-twister game that brought a few CNU and SP students closer together

Figure 3 – a group photo with an interviewee as she shared with us her struggles as student having a part-time job

Figure 4 – My group gathered in the hostel as some teammates were trying to eat Balut for the first time

Figure 5 – all smiles but we’re actually crying on the inside. Our last gathering as a group with the CNU students at the airport

Written by: Joseph Eduard Reyes Alde