The Union Jack is the national flag of the United Kingdom, that sovereign country in Western Europe composed of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What immediately comes to mind when the country’s name is mentioned are Shakespeare and The Beatles. The English poet and playwright, who is also referred to fondly as the “Bard of Avon,” occupied a lot of my reading time when I was still in school. And, my favorite leisure time companion was the music of “The Fab Four” from Liverpool.
Of course, we all know that the UK is much more than just these two icons. It is a financial power, being the second largest economy in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. It has a well functioning parliamentary government that has been adopted by many other countries.
It is a constitutional monarchy that has made it possible for Queen Elizabeth II to be its
Head of State for the past 65 years. In fact, I have grown up seeing many US Presidents come and go, and I remember that every time each of them visits the UK, it’s always
Queen Elizabeth II who’s there to officially welcome them. Her staying power is the envy of many other Heads of State all over the world.
My first visit to London was actually a very big, pleasant surprise for me. After turning my back on my post-graduate medical schooling in Cebu City many decades ago, I had to prove to my parents that I made the right decision, so I peddled my resume to all the airline offices there, one of which was that of Pan Am, the biggest international airline then. I didn’t even know they had a vacancy. I just went in and presented my resume to the manager who decided to interview me right away.
Somebody up there was definitely on my side because I got hired on the spot. Since it was the airline’s policy to make all new-hires go through the standard two-week Training on Airline Procedures, my manager asked me to choose which of the airline’s Training Schools I wanted to attend.
As I looked at the choices, my knees got wobbly. I had cold sweat and a tingling sensation because, at that time, it was the most awesome list I have ever seen in my entire life! I was made to choose between Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and London, where the airline’s four training centers were located. It didn’t take me long to choose London because, at that early stage of my life, I hadn’t been to any European country yet, and the thought of spending two weeks there immediately conjured images of the city’s many beautiful tourist attractions I saw in magazines and in the movies.
That first trip started my fascination with anything British---consumer items, movies, people, education, witticism, etc. There is something about them that radiates an air of sophistication, elegance and admirable style, putting them a notch above the rest, in my mind. I even think that, not counting our own, the Union Jack is the most attractive among the flags of other countries.
Such fascination is the reason why I was very pleased to know that a British institution of learning is doing so well in my home city. The CIE British School, which was opened 32 years ago by Nelia Cruz Sarcol, has evolved into a major player in education, and now has branches in Makati and in Tacloban.
Establishing itself as “The School For Leaders,” the CIE British School offers primary and secondary education, as well as undergraduate courses leading to degrees in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. It also has a graduate school program that offers a masters degree in management with special interest either in strategic operations, school management, public enterprise or enterprise development.
The school is a proud partner of the University of Cambridge, from where the educational standards of which are patterned after. It is also a member of the European Council of
International Schools, a leading collaborative global network that promotes and supports the ideals and best practices of international education.
What I find very impressive with this school is its Program called “Gift of G.O.L.D.”
(Giving of Oneself to those who have Less and are Disadvantaged). Students, along with their parents, adopt and work with disadvantaged families to create micro-enterprises then teach these families to run these businesses themselves. By working together, members of these lowly families are meaningfully involved with something geared towards poverty-liberation. All CIE students have to accomplish this project as part of their academic requirements.
Now, what did I say about anything British? This school has proven my observations right. Its “Union Jack standards” have certainly lodged it a cut above the rest…and it is headquartered in my home city. So, as the Brits are wont to say, “Cheerio!”
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