Aside from seeing the cultural heritages of the Philippines, Tzu Chi University College of Medicine’s yearly overseas tour is also an opportunity to build partnerships among fellow medical institutions with other countries. This year, it succeeded in forging a partnership with the University of Santo Tomas’ Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.
More than a simple educational tour, Tzu Chi University’s (TCU) annual International Volunteer Service is a prime opportunity to establish ties with other medical institutions around the world.
On July 15 and 17, the TCU delegation of 29 medical students and 8 professors and volunteers paid a visit to two medical schools in Manila. The first is the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, where the two institutions signed an agreement that would initiate a student exchange program. Under this agreement, TCU and UST would send students to further their education by exposing them to cases and aspects unique to their individual countries.
TCU was represented by Yang Jen-hung, dean of the College of Medicine. And UST faculty secretary Dexter Pe signed on behalf of the faculty dean Ma. Lourdes Maglinao. Pe believes that the agreement will mutually benefit both institutions.
“Our students will get the exposure and rotation that we cannot offer them in our setup here.” Pe explained.
A similar agreement with Chinese General Hospital Colleges (CGHC) is currently in the works. TCU students were able to forged their own close ties with their local counterparts through fun and games at CGHC.
“[The TCU students] are not different from us. Despite being from another country, they opened up to us and we can understand them amidst the language barrier. We may not know how to speak Chinese but we can communicate.” remarked CGHC student Bea Morandarte.
“It’s fun to learn from other students and their experiences. You know, as medical students, we crave interaction with other people because too often we spend our time studying. So a break from all of that is nice,” remarked CGHC student Ariel Arellano.
“[The CGHC students were] so kind. We asked every question and they would answer the best they could,” commented TCU medical student Lee Jou-hsuan.
Learning to love
Despite reaching out to other institutions, the tour’s primary aim of teaching the students to be more compassionate is the main point of this trip. As it has always been for the past several years. Dharma Master Cheng Yen has urged the TCU students to see and realize what suffering looks and feels like.
The students get that opportunity at the Tzu Chi Eye Center. On July 15, a few patients were among the first to undergo surgery in this state-of-the-art facility. The students witness a cataract surgery performed by TIMA ophthalmologist Dr. Antonio Say.
Among the students in the group, Lin Tzu-heng and Jeshika Febri felt the distinction of helping others simply by helping one patient dress up for surgery. The experience is no less valuable for them.
“Although [the patient] felt cold, he gave thanks to us. This is a very important value Filipinos have and I hope this persists forever,” said Lin.
“I learned that by doing good deeds, we could spread more love to others. And I hope this will keep on going so the love would spread more and more,” said Febri.