The Ateneo de Naga University Office of Student Affairs (OSA) recently held the Immersion of Student Leaders, or commonly referred as Danlugan Immersion, with theme “We see from where we stand”. The Danlugan Immersion is the second part of the Ateneo Workshop on Ignatian Leadership for Life (the first part is the Summer A-WILL, the core leadership seminar workshop). The immersion happened from 20 to 24 October in various communities within Camarines Sur.
A regular offering of OSA’s Ateneo Leadership Development Program (ALDP), Danlugan Immersion projected to deepen student’s self-awareness as a person and as a leader vis-à-vis the social issues in the country, specifically in Camarines Sur, Bicol, and allow students to witness and understand the joys, pains, successes and failures of leadership and service in the peripheries of the society.
Thirty-four student leaders and three student volunteers representing various student organizations of Ateneo de Naga University participated in this year’s immersion. The participants began the immersion with an orientation facilitated by the Director of Student Affairs, Rodolfo SB. Virtus Jr. and Program Officer, Leo Jeremiah Arnel O. Caayao. Later that evening, the participants underwent a pre-immersion workshop, through the help of CIFP-NSTP formator, Judith Vergel de Dios. Vergel de Dios prepared self-awareness and social consciousness exercises to see the understanding of the students of themselves and their society. She also helped the students to be properly disposed for the immersion proper.
The student leaders were then deployed on 21 October to their respective host-families representing various sectors of society. Three groups of student leaders were sent to the famer communities of Banasi Farmers Association (Bula, Camarines Sur), Damayan nin mga Paraoma sa Camarines Sur (DAMPA) (Pili, Camarines Sur), and Badang ni Ignacio (San Fernando, Camarines Sur), the last also being a Christian Living Community. Three groups of student leaders were assigned to the indigenous peoples of Caranday (Baao, Camarines Sur), La Anunciacion (Iriga City), and Sta. Teresita (Iriga City).
Some of student leaders were tasked to live with human rights advocates KARAPATAN: Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and Bantay Familia (both located in Naga City). Two pairs of students were distributed respectively to entrepreneur, Edilberto Magno Conag III, founder and CEO of Nueva Caceres Technology Solutions, Inc. (NUECA), and the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, headed by Fr. Wilmer Tria.
The student leaders experienced the lifestyles and understood the advocacies of their respective host-leaders or host-communities; they also heard the success stories as well as the challenges that their hosts encountered. Student leaders, assigned to the Caranday Tribal Settlement, walked several kilometers to fetch water for their host-families. Participants designated to KARAPATAN visited, talked, and interacted with political prisoners and their families in Pasacao, Camarines Sur. Students, assigned to Badang ni San Ignacio, helped the farmers in preparing the organic fertilizers and harvesting crops. Student leaders, designated to the Banasi Farmers Association, helped in the harvesting of crops and engaged in a dialogue with the farmers regarding the history of the community, the challenges and successes that the group has encountered; in contrast, the participants of DAMPA heard the struggles being faced by their host-community with regard to their land, which could be used for the expansion of Naga Airport even if provides natural irrigation as compared to other farm lands.
A pair of students talked and interacted with Magno Conag about his success and failures as an entrepreneur and the challenges he continually faces as the CEO of NUECA. The students assigned to St. Jude Thaddeus Parish were asked to serve during the daily mass and organize visits to the parishioners for the parish’s novena.
After spending three days and three nights with their respective host-families, the student leaders returned to AdNU on 24 October at the Arrupe Convention Hall. Vergel de Dios, as processing facilitator, guided the participants in presenting their immersion experience and feelings through illustrations and symbols, and in sharing their insights to the group.
The immersion then concluded with the celebration of the holy mass presided by the University Chaplain, Fr. Celerino Reyes, SJ. In his homily Fr. Reyes asked the students to put into practice the concept of magis and service.
Students affirmed their positive experience of the Danlugan Immersion; for instance, one student shared, “The immersion helped me assess my leadership style in contrast to my host-leader and how I can have a positive impact in my organization and community; I realized that every decision I make can have an impact on the lives of others now and in the future.”.