INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION GATHERING
(A sharing by Ms. Grace Magtaas, SEA province Lay Delegate)“Celebrando L’educacion…”, the song still rings in my ears as if I was learning it again for the first time. I couldn’t quite shake off the feeling yet, several days after the International Education Gathering has closed. It left me full and maybe just a bit ready to overflow. That is how rich the experience was after ten full days spent with all the 60 delegates from 20 provinces and 4 continents. Twenty years after the first International Educators’ Congress was convened in Auteuil (Paris 1998), a new gathering has been called to see how our educational projects in the different areas of our missions and apostolates have been responding to the calls of the times. What is the face of our Assumption transformative education today? “We are all called each day according to the invitation of St. Marie Eugenie, to become more and more of who we are – as fully as possible- a fullness that can only come if we remain attached and connected to our sources, with faith. Education must be a work of faith, of love and of hope. Our mission of education makes us men and women in constant search , heirs of past generations, called to be challenged by the novelty of everyday life. The openness of heart will lead us in this gathering to remember the path we have traveled since our origins, to give thanks and to celebrate. It is now up to us continue to live this with strength, passion which was there from the beginning to bring us wherever we are missioned, in a new and significant way”. These words are part of the powerful and inspiring message of our Superior General, Sr. Martine Tapsoba as she opened the IEG and formally welcomed all the delegates to Manila. To say that the days that followed were full would be an understatement. As we adjusted listening to three languages (English, Spanish and French) with simultaneous translations (thanks to our very able translators who also doubled as facilitators – Sr. Marjo, Sr. Cecilia, Sr. Ana and Sr. Veronique) we also learned how to listen actively and be attuned to the sharing of stories, the questions that were asked and the insights that were exchanged. I realize that as we listen to an experience that is quite different from our own and from a perspective born from reality that is somewhat unfamiliar, we begin to expand our global sensitivity which creates a collective wisdom within the group. In many ways, I felt that this rich exchange in our sessions and workshops, our multi-lingual prayers and masses, pulled us all together toward the center of being One Assumption. It was an experience of internationality and interculturality which also expanded our understanding of being Assumption as family. It was truly humbling to be in the company of not just great minds but also kindred spirits whose passion for our mission of education burns brightly. If St. Marie Eugenie and all our founding mothers were alive today, they would certainly be delighted with and proud of all the sisters and lay who continue to selflessly give of themselves to this work of transformation which as one delegate described “as the kind of work that is never quite completed because it will always move and evolve with the times”. So how do we ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful? The words of our Mother Foundress became a guiding principle : we must LOVE our times! And loving it means learning much about the world we live in, our particular issues and challenges, our resources, and even our limitations while remaining rooted and connected to our Source. Our greatest challenge today is to discover new ways to make our transformative education matter to the lives of those we encounter everyday. A space was definitely created in this gathering. It is a space of encounter that led to unity and growth. But it is also distinctly a space of diversity and uniqueness. Put simply, it is a space where we witnessed and experienced Communion. The International Education Gathering of 2018 will hopefully define and carve the new path that we will take as we carry on the mission of education towards a transformed society. This coming together puts a stamp on a renewed commitment to make Jesus Christ known, loved and served so we can all contribute to building God’s kingdom where we are called to be. And I am simply grateful to have been a part of it.