At the Development Sector Career and Internship Fair at Ateneo De Manila University, various organizations including Tzu Chi urged its students to be of service to others—especially the less fortunate—as they pursue their chosen careers. As issues like poverty and climate change persist in the current era, cooperation among various sectors becomes more imperative.
“Business as usual” no longer works.
This was the collective discourse of the three speakers on the last day of the Development Sector Career and Internship Fair at the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) on April 6. The three-day event aims to expose the youth to the importance of service to others as they pursue their chosen careers. Originally for students taking up Developmental Studies, the fair was opened to students of various majors.
“The goal of Ateneo [De Manila University] is to fashion its students to become men and women for others. And for that to happen, they have to learn more about the development sector. It’s ultimately important because it’s a core value for Ateneans to be able to serve others,” explains Samantha Eala, Vice-President for Marketing and Promotions at the Development Society of the Ateneo, which organized the fair.
The three speakers are David Laurel, a lecturer at the ADMU School of Development Studies; Renato Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities; and Tzu Chi volunteer Peggy Sy, representing the Buddhist organization. Despite differing topics, the speakers concurred about the need for increased cooperation among the sectors of society—from businesses down to the masses—in tackling important issues like poverty and climate change.
Around the world, evidence of this concept’s effectiveness is clear-cut. By prioritizing the welfare of the world community over their individual selves, such cooperation managed to eradicate smallpox and reverse the depletion of the ozone layer, among others. Today’s social and environmental issues, through similar cooperation, can also be resolved.
For instance, in his talk about creating shared value, Laurel coins the term “poverty reversal” in place of poverty reduction or alleviation. Given enough time and resources, the less fortunate can be raised out of their impoverished lives and even help other less fortunate enjoy the same.
“All these organizations, if they’re pointing at the right direction, can achieve the impossible,” says Laurel.
For years, Tzu Chi has been setting an example in community development through empowerment. In her talk, Sy presents the case of Tacloban City, Leyte in the days following the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. The massive damage left by the calamity had nearly rendered the city uninhabitable. The cash-for-work program was initiated with the goal of jumpstarting the local economy by giving thousands disposable income for their needs. Housing projects and livelihood training followed suit.
Within months, the once-ravaged community remains home to the grateful many. Some went on to become Tzu Chi volunteers, vowing to help alleviate suffering in other communities around the country. This level of success, however, wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the local government and the locals themselves.
“One of a few people who talked to me a while ago was saying that they didn’t know that there are these avenues where they can do something concrete. The talk of Tzu Chi opened their eyes to the fact that they can do a lot more,” Sy remarks.
She also encouraged the students to help with Tzu Chi’s budding English BPO course by teaching the first batch in their spare time. With the expansion of its education programs, namely machine operation and other vocational courses, Tzu Chi will continue its contribution to community development in the future.
“[Tzu Chi] is a channel where they can improve their lives by getting better jobs. So our efforts in Tzu Chi are helping in national development,” Sy adds.