I am writing this to thank and celebrate my students.
My name is Raymond Vergara. Students know me for my social media hashtag: #profkokalbo.
I teach events for the Department of Marketing and Advertising of the De La Salle University. These are elective subjects, which means students decide whether they want to enroll or not. This is why I thank my students. I am grateful to them for allowing me to teach.
In the 15 years that I have been teaching, I do know that students want to have fun while learning. But, to succeed in my classes, I require hard work―and I have seen many students work hard for what they want.
At the end of each term in the last four years, I have asked my students to complete a survey to help me understand their learning experience. This is part of the action research I conduct in every events class. I use this research to help me improve how I deliver my class.
My students describe their learning experience using the following words:
By observing them through the years and confirmed by these surveys, I have learned that students want to make a difference in their lives and others. They are willing to work hard for it.
The million-dollar question is why? And if they are willing to work, how do I make them do that repeatedly?
The answer is simple, but it requires a leap of faith: allow them the freedom to learn how they want to learn.
Make learning fun, engaging and meaningful.
In the past four years, I was privileged to teach 22 events classes that initiated 72 projects that raised over TWO million pesos to help multiple beneficiaries.
The last four years have been significant for one reason: many of these projects were initiated, organized and activated ONLINE. The students did this while they were home. This speaks volumes to what they can accomplish when they take responsibility for their learning.
The last four years reflect how my classes have transformed and how I have transformed because of the pandemic. In transformational learning theory, the pandemic is what you call a disorienting dilemma. In my class, it became a catalyst for change.
In March 2020, when everyone was forced to stay home, my students and I had one problem: how to finish the term with a purpose? But this problem felt superficial and irrelevant while the entire world suffered from a pandemic. How can we focus on selfish needs? If you frame the problem this way, finishing the term felt like an inconsequential concern.
And so, rather than asking, “how do we finish the term?” we asked a different question:
How do we become part of the solution to this worldwide problem?
That’s when One with Frontliners came to be. OWF is the story of how a group of 48 students raised close to P700,000 in funding in 40 days to help medical and logistics frontliners during the early months of the pandemic while stuck at home.
What began as a class project became an impactful project that helped medical frontliners from PGH and many other hospitals in Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Laguna. We partnered with organizations within DLSU, Angkas, DiscoverMNL and Gouache. We also extended help to the Ates and Kuyas of DLSU. We also delivered food to DLSU when the school hosted frontliners. We helped our logistics partners by providing food and toiletries to the Angkas drivers.
All while the students were stuck at home.
Since then, classes have shifted to the hybrid learning modality. What has not changed is the desire of students to create an impact. In the recently concluded term, 90 students raised close to P300,000 in funding for eight beneficiaries.
My students inspire me. They make me want to be a better person. Through this experience, I have learned the following:
Students come to my class with a set of learning goals and objectives. They want to learn how to conceptualize or activate events. They want to develop and enhance skills that will help them activate events. They want tips and advice. And perhaps, most importantly, they want to experience conceptualizing, organizing and activating events.
Students want a fun and engaging learning experience and are willing to work for this experience. They want to experience the subject matter. They don’t like a one-way exchange of information. Paulo Freire was right: students don’t find the banking model of education engaging or transformational. This is not to say that classroom lectures are no longer relevant. In fact, my students find my storytelling lectures engaging and impactful. Stories enhance lectures. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 4-year-old or a C-suite executive―stories can be told in impactful ways that help you learn.
Students want to be challenged. They want to use their creativity to solve problems and create projects. They want to develop competence, and experiential learning is essential in acquiring relevant knowledge and developing important skills.
Students want to create an impact. The intention and capability are often there, but some feel there need to be opportunities for them to impact society.
How did my students raise over P2 million in donations in the last four years?
The answer is simple. They had the means, and they had a motive. They simply needed the opportunity. They find this opportunity in my transformed classroom.
In my transformed classroom, I am an enabler. I enable their goals and objectives. I provide opportunities for them not only to learn and experience events. My goal is to help students understand that they can help solve society’s problems, one event at a time. Perhaps most of you would associate events with parties and amusement. To my students, events may be used to transform and create an impact in society.
I dedicate this article to my mom, Olivia Vergara, who recently survived cancer. She is the person who taught me the value of working honestly and with integrity. She taught me the value of helping others.
The author is a faculty member of the Department of Marketing of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, DLSU. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.