Sunday, May 09

Forging partnerships with a common goal

July 17, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

The TCU delegation moves along the walkway on their tour of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • 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.

  • Dr. Larry King (left), physiologist at UST, leads the TCU delegation to the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • An agreement is signed between UST and TCU, formally establishing a student exchange program between the two institutions. TCU College of Medicine dean Yang Jen-hung (center) and UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery secretary Dexter Pe (right) are the signatories. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The students gaze on the shelves of preserved specimens inside the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • At the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus, the students toured the Machine Operation Course workshop. These bench vises were made by the course’s students as their project. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In the sewing room, the students are shown various handmade articles of clothing and bags. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • During a cataract surgery in the Tzu Chi Eye Clinic, a student gets a chance to see the operation up close. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Cheers and thumbs-up greet the patient after a successful cataract surgery. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • TCU students and their counterparts at Chinese General Hospital Colleges (CGHC) engage in fun and games as their way of interaction. In a short time, TCU student Jeshika Febri (left) and CGHC student Bea Morandarte became close friends. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • CGHC student Ariel Arellano performs moxibustion on a TCU student. Traditional Chinese Medicine is an important part of the CGHC’s curriculum. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A CGHC professor demonstrates the use of the anatomage table, a state-of-the-art system that allows the display of the human anatomy down to its nerves. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Late afternoon, the students toured the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum showcases the history and ethnicity of the Philippines. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In front of the Rizal Monument, not minding the afternoon drizzle, the students perform “Love in the Sunshine” a cappella. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】