The AAA English Familiarization Program of the AAA Outreach Club

by Ana de Villa Singson

In a frenzied November when AAA enthralled with many firsts (first AAA bazaar in 4 years, first AAA quarterly lunch in 4 years), AAA Club-bing intrepidly ventured into Outreach Programs for the very first time. The AAA Outreach Club hied off to San Juan Nepomuceno School in Malibay for an English Familiarization Program for Grade 4-6 students and 2 of Malibay’s Vietnamese postulants.

It was a soul-filled, soulful, meaningful day replete with food, fun and what we hope are many lessons learned by our adorable students. The day started with alumnae teacher volunteers meeting up for a quick brief in the AAA office. On the agenda:

Curriculum: a K4 story which teaches patience.

Outline flow: short and fun introductions, read the story together, build on vocabulary words, Q&A for comprehension, brief assignment

Strategy 1: generously give out study kits to encourage note taking

Strategy 2: dispense lollipops and burger gummy bears to encourage participation…lots of participation ( we are happy to report that this strategy was particularly effective!)

Teachers Tinette Nisce, Marni Torres and moi from the AAA Board and Teachers Dedette Bautista and Yvette Carrion did a brief run through in the AAA office, sharing thoughts and lots and lots of food while preparing for our first session. At 12 noon it was time to go and we merrily boarded our SUV to Malibay. It was not an easy ride! What should have been a breezy 15 minute trip to Malibay turned into a long-winded 58 minute circuitous route with detours and much doubling back courtesy of Waze. And it was with bated breath and slight trepidation that we made it to SJDN Malibay with a scant 2 minutes to spare!

Thanks to Sr Lourdes and Mich, the Club Moderator who included our English Familiarization program among the Club choices for students, we were ready to start at the get go. Tables and students were clustered in the library and 15 young smiling faces plus 2 happy Vietnamese
postulants welcomed us with “Good Afternoon, Teacher!” And the business of teaching English began.

The students were such a joy to behold. Ranging from ages 9 – 12 years old, they were already fluent in speaking English, testament to the strength and discipline of an Assumption education. They joined the conversations spiritedly, with some even acting out the story with  hand gestures! They already knew quite a few of the vocabulary words although “lopsided” was a first for everyone. As for me, my students were 24 year old postulants, Misses Nga and Nguyen from Vietnam and our material was different from the rest of the group. Their booklet was the Assumpta magazine, 2019 Coming Home Edition and the day’s curriculum was the Mountain Story of Assumption’s St Martin School in Baguio City. They were fascinated that Kabunian is the god of the indigenous folk. I was fascinated to learn that Chua is the indigenous Vietnamese god. And it was fascinating for all of us that while called by many different names, Kabunian, Jesus, Yahweh, Lord, Chua, they are all “Father!”, making us all one big family! We talked about the gold found in the mountains of Baguio and discerned that the more important gold was in the hearts of the people. When I asked them if they knew of anyone who had gold in their hearts, Sr. Nguyen very quickly replied “My mother. She has gold in her heart because she is courageous ( my heart swelled with this because “courageous” was one of the vocabulary words of the day and my student was promptly using it! Yay!). My mother works very hard to help her many children.”   Sr Nga heartwarmingly said that her friend, pointing at Sr. Nguyen, has gold in her heart because she has been friend and companion as a co-postulant. At the end of the session, I asked if they learned something from the session and they both shouted “Learned!” with Sr. Nga putting fist to heart saying “Gold in our hearts!” Truly, what greater fulfilment is there in knowing that somehow you made a small contribution in someone’s life! Quickly, the many accumulated tensions of the week (it was a hectic week for many of us!) disappeared into thin air. There is much meaning in educating someone and I remembered the many teachers who had nurtured me, taught me, castigated me…transformed me. And I sent a silent prayer out to the universe for them and for all the teachers who share so much of themselves and truly make a difference.

The one hour allotted to us went by so quickly! We have since petitioned for a 30 minute extension for our weekly program. Mich gently knocked on the door where we were avidly and animatedly speaking in English and gently told me that the parents were there to fetch their and bring children home. But my announcement that it was time to go home was met with “5 minutes more!” And it was then that we unveiled … our very last strategy: 

Feed the mind with knowledge!

Then fill their rumbly tummies with good food!


We brough out Mac and Cheese and pastries and bottled iced tea and since their parents were waiting for them, we told them to take the food home, but the students happily and nonchalantly stayed in their clustered tables to eat among their other clubmates and their teachers. What a meaningful day! On the ride on the way home, we were sharing about how much fun we had, how fulfilled we all felt. Hopefully, our students took home many learnings. Because the teachers certainly went home with many. We learned that hunger for knowledge makes knowledge, no matter how difficult, achievable. We learned that the Assumption education, as seen through the confidence of our students, is truly transformative. I learned that when you are exhausted (it was a grueling week of meetings galore), giving even more of yourself to someone whom you can help is the best tonic. Because you forget about yourself and focus on someone else. And suddenly, your energy depot goes into overdrive because there is someone who needs you!

To my co-teachers Tinette, Marnie, Yvette, my dearest sister-in-law – Dedette …what a day, what a beautiful day!  Thank you for volunteering for the Outreach Program. You are in the annals of AAA Club-bing history for being the very first brave souls to join our very first outreach. The hope and prayer is that we have many more programs in many Assumption Mission Schools.

To our students, thank you, thank you for welcoming us! We can’t wait to see you all again next week!

PS. —  We have since gone back for a 2nd session.  This time, the story was about a boy who was honest and returned a lot of money.  We also told them of a real – life story of an honest janitor in NAIA 2 who truly returned almost 3 million pesos worth of cash and jewels.  Truly, there are many good honest people!  With me were Teachers Judy Antonio, Tinette Nisce, Mayette Casanova, Gia Enriquez and Annie Almeda.