Following the exchange student program in Italy, VCIS extended another global and extraordinary opportunity to six of its high school graduates who joined the 27-day Rohei Immersion Program in Singapore.
The VCIS student-interns
From June 3 to 30, 2016, Ruthie Bañas, Patty Custodio, Monique Espiritu, JD Hong, Nea Tan, and Tristan Ortega collaborated with a dynamic team of young leaders in Rohei to pursue leadership, unity in diversity, and excellent values essential in their professional development. The student-interns were assigned in various departments like Brand, Marketing, and Communications (Nea), Business Development (Patty); Training Administration (JD); and Guest Experience Management (Monique, Ruthie, and Tristan). Since 2014, VCIS has been sending a number of student-interns to Rohei, an organization that provides a highly experiential learning environment to students who want to prepare for university life.
The Rohei experience
The six students came through their work challenges with the help and care of their Singaporean host families. Rohei mentors also eased their apprehensions by putting them in the contour of the organization’s values and ethics which are centered on God’s standards while their colleagues demonstrated an inspiring spirit of service. This made them pursue excellent work and place greater paramountcy on other people’s skills and character. Their momentary independence also enabled them to discover a piece of life away from the usual routines and familiar faces back home.
The Rohei memories
During the debriefing session, the students recalled how the Rohei culture added a new tinct to their lives and shared some of the most unforgettable experiences that accented their stay.
What were your key take-homes from the Rohei experience?
I felt as though I was put in the wrong department. I was looking at Nea’s department, and she was doing things I felt like I could also do. I got frustrated like, “God, why did you put me in GE (Guest Experience)?” But it took me back to what I reflected on: when it comes to serving God, you should not come with anything. All you need to do is to offer up yourself. Nothing, no embellishments, you just have to come as you are with a willing heart. It also gave me a good image of what Rohei offers as a workplace as well. You don’t have to be skilled at something to be able to offer a lot in that field. Most of the time, it’s not about how well you perform, but how much you’re willing to give.
On our first day in Rohei, we were telling what our end goal in mind was. And all of us had the same answer: learn, take something, and bring it back home. But we got burned by (Ms.) Rachel, who said, “More than you receive, give back something.” So two things changed: “time for learning and time for giving.” First thing is time for learning. I have learned and changed my perspective on how to become a better person; your ethics, personality, and values in life should get better. I think the [Rohei] environment is a relatively clean slate so you’re free to grow and be molded there. Second is giving back. I didn’t want to be in GE (Guest Experience), but what happened in GE was that I gave something. They got me as the photographer for an event, did my thing with my limited knowledge in photography, and helped out there. At the end, I got a letter, saying, “Your photographs were the best that GE has ever seen.” I think growth really happened there.
My highlight was not TA (Training Administration), it was GE (Guest Experience). I did TA the whole month except for two days in GE. Those two days were a big stretch out of my comfort zone. That’s where I learned the most because it was somewhere I don’t usually do, like getting to know people, greeting them, being respectful, and having the smell all the time (giggles). Those two days were pretty hectic and I was able to learn how to better interact with people. In TA, I made reports, filter photos, and collage them. I was pretty comfortable and enjoyed doing it.
How did the Rohei experience change your perspective about work and life?
Rohei really opened my eyes onto how important it is to put God in the center of everything that you do, really even at work. When you know that God is at the center, you’re pushed to work at your best. [Rohei is] such a great environment to be in especially with the fellowship you can have with your group mates. It helps a lot when you’re working.
I remember Patty saying about how Rohei is a great example, like how work should be. Now, I want to produce a workforce just like the one that Rohei produces.
I really love the [Rohei] environment. Even when the supervisor is not looking at you, you continue your work. We always had the instinct to go out and help [others]. Also, back in Singapore, I was very independent. Now, [I am at the] adjustment period like going back to having a parental figure and to make “paalam.” [Rohei] was really good experience for me in terms of learning how to live on my own. There were times that I would miss my mom a lot because she wouldn’t be there like,“Oh my shirt, it got broken” and my mom wasn’t there to [help me] sew it off.
Nea’s blog posted on the Rohei website
After the program, Nea’s experiences inspired her to write an article that had been posted on the ROHEI website. In her blog post entitled “Changing the World: A Tribute to Educators,” Nea shares her discoveries on how to change the world, her heartfelt tribute to an educator who greatly influenced her life, and her ROHEI journey that will surely spark inspiration to all.
To read the whole article, just click here.
The students’ parents also shared how it had been with their families while the students were gone for the immersion and reflected on the positive changes that the program has brought to their children’s lives.
How did the Rohei experience impact your child’s life?
When Monique arrived, all I heard from her was, “I miss Singapore. I wanna go back.” We really felt the impact that it has done to her in a positive way because she really enjoyed her stay. More than the learning she had in Rohei, she also learned a lot from her host family and her interactions with other interns.
I was the most visibly anxious. Those were the longest days that (Nea and I) would be part. My thoughts were really wrapped up and I was worried for her. But I was able to visit them for four days. I was so awed to see them altogether and they were so independent. (Nea) practically took charge of me and Arabella (Nea’s sister), buying tickets, even showed us around Singapore. I was silently happy about it and she has so many stories to tell us.
[Patty’s] siblings were crying at home when Patty left (for Rohei). They didn’t know how life would be without their Ate Patty. Patty is like my partner in taking care of the siblings. Every day, they always get to call her. There’s always a video call. Aside from that, Patty discovered how amazing it is working at Rohei and how they incorporate all God’s values and Words in work and in every area. It was also amazing for her to share all those things to us. I appreciated those groups or people who prayed for me and our family (too).
It’s quite exciting because when (Ruthie) came back, she’s helping around the house. It was a good preparation for college. Big improvement. About the trip (to Rohei), we went there and enjoyed it. The people there are so good and accommodating, especially the Rohei people, they’re so nice and parang na-attach masyado yung mga kids (sa kanila).
JD is still quiet but our helper noticed something when he got back. When we opened his bag, it’s all organized. We only pulled out one bag with his dirty clothes. Also, I got to chat with him every night. I asked him “How’s your day? How’s work?” and he said “tiring” because he’s under Training Admin. But I received good reports. It was a good experience for him and he can [now] manage his time better.
[I’m thankful to Rohei] for sharing [their] expertise, letting Tristan work in [their] company, and for accommodating him [during] his break time. We appreciate [Rohei’s] help in terms of learning and imparting God’s Words to them.