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Friday, October 09, 2009

Young Minds Academy Testimonial

The Miracles of the 9 Pillars and the journey of a lifetime
YMA – 3 (Young Minds Academy Season 3)
Somewhere, Cebu City
(Supposedly) Saturday, September 26, 2009
By: VERNON JOSEPH M. GO

We were asked to make a YMA testimonial from our class adviser, HOW YMA CHANGED YOUR LIFE. A testimonial of the experiences and how have I been applying those learnings and the 9 Pillars with a message of thanks.

Now… where to start?

It all started in October of 2008, with me browsing around the internet and for some reason stumbled on this Young Minds Academy thing. I cannot remember from where I found the link or what, but it was for sure it was from a social networking site. After reading through it I was skeptical if I will be able to pass this for I have submitted to the “Aboitiz Future Business Leaders’ Summit” once before but was not accepted. So I closed the window for I was overcome with doubt. For some reason I stumbled upon the site again and read it again and I then read that it was a group application in which I tried to find people who were interested as well.

After about almost a month or so, our team was formed and the funny thing was we submitted the application on the last day and RAFI was about to close at that time. We decided that we have nothing to lose if we don’t get accepted anyway. We got a call, and went through the tedious tests and interviews in which we were both scared and excited. By December we got a message that we were accepted, it was both a mixture of feelings both of fear and excitement.

Some of us even doubted the whole situation for we did not expect to pass and now we had to face multiple challenges: we were graduating students; some of us had 1 or 2 thesis projects and an On-the-job training to attend to; some had exams to worry about and all sorts of extra-curricular activities to commit to. In a way it was a roller coaster ride.

S-Leadership training was the 1st session we attended and we were all excited before during and after. But as I recall it, I was not quite as excited. Looking back, I realized how pathetically arrogant and selfish I was. Truth be told, I was skeptical as hell with Selene Yu’s life examples of a miracle. At that time, all that was in my mind was that I’ll get through this in order to broaden my knowledge and put this training in my resume. To be honest, I was greedy not in terms of money but that of opportunity and knowledge. In a way I was taking advantage of my team mates and abusing myself unconsciously. I selfishly played with them as if they were pawns in a chess game, planning, scheming like a war monger. I surrounded myself with the best possible people I could find: A cumlaude, an outstanding IE, a DOST scholar, and a PESFA scholar. As I look back, I can truly say I do not deserve what I have now and I don’t deserve their friendship and respect being the average person that I was.

The 2nd step was the KAC (Kool Adventure Camp) – A three day, two night immersion, team-building training of sorts. Here I learned how to play to win, the challenge by choice, commitment through the chicken and pig, trust and having spotters, teamwork and learning about my team mates, of myself and my fellow scholars. But it is through this event that I probably started to change little by little. Remembering those days made me laugh for I was able to experience tremendous amount of new stuff and also makes me teary-eyed for I was given as I would like to view it “A harsh treatment tough-love from God.” It was the 1st time I got hospitalized (Except when I was born and got injured it the head), it was mixture of good and bad. Good for it made me stronger and the person that I am today and bad for as if it was purposely done in order for me not to finish the KAC for I was stuck at the hospital. It was truly scary, I was sickly since I was little and I always try my best to take care of my body. For the first time I felt very vulnerable, because all my life people expect much of me for some reason. Even in helping people I tend to be selfish, most of the time I am the super hero, superman..the one who saves but never the one being saved.

This time I was human, I got hit with a kryptonite. As I was being carried in the bus by Super Quad-Core and delivered to the restroom under the care of Super Stargazer, I sat down slowly recovering. After the dizziness disappeared reality sinked in, I was recalling the situation before I was half conscious and almost collapsed. After a while I was thinking and thinking despite the feeling of fatigue, one by one my co-scholars called to me once a while to check whether I am doing fine and as I was being attended with her super care, then I was given a Gatorade. After taking one sip, my hand trembled and I broke down in tears. After that, I was rushed in the ER for about 7 hours before I was advised to stay-in. There I got visited by all the KAC Facilitators trying to cheer me up and give me strength. That night, despite what happened, I slept with a smile as what my cousin (who was watching me for the night) said. I never got to properly thank them and I just hope they get to read this someday.

The following sessions were met with unexplainable enthusiasm and interest from me: such as, the social development, quarterly exams, and the basic research and data analysis training. The research & data analysis training was surprisingly a fun one, I got to like walk and interview people living in depressed areas (not that it was fun but it was a good experience). We also got to learn a lot of new stuff from the participatory project development module and creative thinking even though we had to leave because it was our graduation ceremony.

A tipping point for my paradigm shift was the Education Forum. I really learned a lot from our speakers and the 2nd nosebleed session. If Dr. Labe had a shotgun, I would have died then and there, all her points on the lay-man’s perception of education and of teachers was my perception too. I have learned to appreciate education and teachers more after that. Teachers affect eternity; they affect eternity because to teach is to touch lives forever. William Arthur Ward said… “The Mediocre teacher tells; The good teacher explains; the superior teacher demonstrates; And the great teacher Inspires” … They give their time, which is in a way giving away a portion of one’s life that can never be given back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Relationships take time & effort, and the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E, because the essence of love is not what we think or do or provide for others, but how much we give of ourselves.” (Taken from Rick Warren, Author of the book: A purpose driven life)

Who are these teachers then? There were Professional Teachers who were also yma-3 scholars and teachers-to-be students. But it is not only them, but also our class adviser, headmaster, speakers, mentors, facilitators, volunteers from previous yma, RAFI staff and most of all from my fellow scholars. This journey was not just about learning from the speakers but learning about bonds, our own experiences and of others. A simple chat from a fellow scholar can build a bond and create an intellectual and emotional exchange with the sharing of ideas and experiences. And I am proud and Joyful to have spent what may seem to be little time with them, but such time is locked, frozen & forged into memory for as long as I live. They have touched my life and in their own way became a teacher to me one way or another.

Then it was time for the learning visits, it was another opportunity to learn, bond and have fun at the same time. I was only able to join 1 out of 2 since I had to make a difficult family decision for my father was going back abroad to work on the day of the 2nd learning visit. Anyways I learned a lot from that trip, it made me even think that: “What if our schools had these sorts of learning strategy?” That’s just me daydreaming, but I was surprised to learn so much in two days without getting information overload. I draw strength from that experience, most especially the Inayawan Visit. There were children there too, they were excited and was full of energy. I guess it’s a rare sight for them to get visited. So if you think your life is miserable, or your job sucks, then simply think and put yourself in these people’s shoes. It really made me reflect and think on how blessed I am and how my daily problems were diminutive compared to theirs, if these people could smile, why can’t we?

In our immersion in Alaska mambaling was the best of times, and it was the worst of times…the place had just recently been ravaged with fire and people were still rebuilding their “rip-rap” shelters and the like activities. Amidst the difficulties they face, life goes on. I draw from this experience a lot to get me through a down day, it gives me strength and the courage to step forward.

In the basic communication and presentation training, we met Caroline Ballesteros-Go. I learned a lot and listened closely to her since I have always continued to improve my public speaking skills. But I got more than I bargained from that session. She asked for our emails so that we can communicate with her and for her to be able to share her bible reflections. At first, I didn’t really mind the daily word emails we got from her; but as I started reading it slowly, more and more, I came to appreciate her reflections and now for the first time in my life started to open and read the bible for myself. The challenge for me now is to continue and maintaining this as a habit and for that I am most thankful to her.

The mentoring and mock presentation tested our character, patience and commitment to the highest level. At times criticisms bring us down and make us doubt taking on this journey, but now I understand why we need to fall. We need to fall in order to learn how to pick our selves up.

Then the YMA Graduation came, we presented our proposal and was deemed unworthy; after which we were given a talk by the aboitiz brothers. We learned about Ramon Aboitiz’s principles and the “Bugsay principle.” I was so inspired that It took me a week to recover from the multiple emotions and the confusion due to over inspiration (If there is such a thing). How we live our every day life shows a lot of our true character. For most of us, daily life is not exciting, just some routine things and some free time to do some extra fun stuff that we like. However, this is where the true battle is. That graduation ceremony just summed up my current state, I WAS AFRAID. Afraid of the ending of the program, afraid of the REAL WORLD wherein business is cut throat and mistakes aren’t tolerated and afraid of going out of my comfort zone, in this game, battle and war called life.

Thinking that it was over, we were invited again to RAFI for an evaluation and closing ceremony of sorts. Those who wanted to read and share there testimonials on how YMA changed their lives. I didn’t volunteer. I wanted to hear others testimonial and learn and be inspired by their story. There may be a time when our courage may fail, and we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. It would take an hour of tears and battered spirits when our day may come crashing down; but it is not this day, this day…We FIGHT…that is all we must do, keep moving forward, live you life and have no regrets!

At first you may shun the concept of a Miracle, I most certainly did when it was brought out during the S-Leadership and in the Kool Adventure Camp. But for each Pillar in YMA’s Character and Leadership, may lay a certain little miracle for you…


RESPECT
Be true to yourself and to others…there is no point in wearing a mask…the world may be a harsh place to live in but it is also beautiful; it may be full of contradictions but it is that which makes life worth living…you must respect yourself before you can respect others for you need that in order to live in this simple yet complicated life.

RESPONSIBILITY
Most of us are in denial because most of us Cebuanos know of these information/problems but we simply let it get in one ear and exits in the next ear, as if it does not concern us. Everybody has problems and bad times, but we must not sacrifice the good times for those bad times. In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is something and at the same time, the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

CITIZENSHIP
Never have I been more Filipino than my time in YMA, there is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. Will we continue to allow the reality of our culture crisis? “Poor Filipinos want to be American, Rich Filipinos want to be spaniard, no Filipino wants to be Simply FILIPINO.” – Barth Suresky (An American who lived and died in the Philippines)

CARING LEADERSHIP
I discovered that every person is worthy to be loved. Trust in love, because it makes changes possible. Love changes you and me. It changes people, contexts and relationships. It changes the world. Please love your neighborhood and country.

GOD-CENTEREDNESS
Faith should come with action. People may be unkind, just be kind. They may cheat on you, just be honest. They may forget your good deeds, just continue doing good. In the end, its between you and God. Not you and them. Let go and Let God.

TRUSTWORTHINESS
If you can't aim or the top alone, then find someone to go with you and when you find a path to the top. "Is it too abrupt?"..."Can you do it?" ... "Is that even possible?"...none of that matters! You just have to "climb!"... If you're lacking in talent, then ask for the help of others without shame, bow your head and swallow your pride, Dirty your own hands, even if you have to bear the contempt of the ones you love, all this in order to achieve your hopes and dreams..and become more than what you are…trust in yourself, trust in others and trust in the lord.

HUMILITY
The BUGSAY PHILOSOPHY shared by Bobby Aboitiz sums this up: Destination, Round up, Effort and Attitude; One must not only have the desire to be a person of character, the will to continuously improve but also the courage to put it into action and continue doing it despite the challenges and problems along the way towards one’s goal or destination..

FAIRNESS
Love the people who treat you right.. Pray for the ones who don't. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.

INTEGRITY
Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are. Taking inspiration from Ninoy Aquino, we can say to ourselves: I am only human, I have no money, no following, nothing special to offer to my country and world. But all I have, all that we have and all that we share is our Indomitable Spirit!

If you have a child, teach them how to love the Philippines. Teach them why they have to love their neighborhood and country. That's all, nothing more nothing less for in love, the rest will follow.

We may not get what we want, but surely we will get what we deserve. This is not something to convince others to join the program but rather just a simple story to share to anyone. It is simply your decisions not your conditions that will determine your future and ultimately one’s destiny!

Sometimes you won’t know that you have been blessed with a lot of miracles until you reflect on it yourself. And as Steve Jobs said: You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, god, whatever.

This is not the end, but rather a beginning of a new chapter, a new fight; this is not goodbye, but a see you around! We may not see each other but the bonds we share through YMA will stay and although we are all apart, my thoughts and heart are always with you!

I am delighted and honored to be a part of this program, and especially pleased to have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and observations about this programs results and miracles. Hopefully the next batch of scholars may also learn as much if not more than I do. God bless ug Daghang Salamat!

YMA for the 3rd season has ended.
No more activity reports to make.
No more delicious foods.
No more Saturday sessions to attend to.
No more learning visits, tours and immersions.
No more updates from Sir Mel.
No more YMA attendance sheets.
No more picturex2.
No more childish moments.
No more free aircon an chillx2 on the plenary hall and EADSC.
No more activities to look forward to.
No more Project proposal.
No more nosebleed from mentors.
No more chitchat w/ co-yma scholars.

It's Sad but we have to move..on...I have made a lot of mistakes, regrets, what-ifs and some apologies to make..but I've learn a lot, and I shall become more than what I was before and now...I will strive to improve on myself, help more people, live life, have fun and love..

Now our next journey begins...The Real World!!!

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