Thank you for your continued interest in the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide. I am glad that you are partnering with us in promoting the Foundation’s mission of Filipinos abroad helping Filipinos at home. The Foundation’s NEXTGEN Program encourages young Filipino Americans learn more about their homeland and eventually become more involved in philanthropic efforts to help back in the Philippines. The program provided cultural experiences and enrichment for Filipino Americans (Fil-Ams). We need your support! We cannot do it without your help to encourage Fil-Ams to make a difference back home. Jeselle Santiago, NEXTGEN 2015 Fellow shares her personal story of how the NEXTGEN Program affected her life:
Jeselle Santiago, NEXTGEN 2015 Fellow planting mangrove trees in Cebu
“When I think of the Bayanihan Foundation and its NEXTGEN program, words seem to fail me. They mean so much to me that the clichés that tend to come to mind simply do not do them justice…but to not share my story would be even more of a disservice, so I will attempt to convey their impact on my life.
For me, the NEXTGEN program has been a truly transformative experience and a catalyst for change. It awoke parts in me I was unaware of and reinvigorated my soul. It reunited me with my birth mother-land and revealed how desperately I needed my roots for stability. It helped me redefine who I want to be and reframe how I view my interaction with the world.
Before NEXTGEN, I had not given too much thought to my Filipino identity. While I was born in the Philippines, I was raised in America since I was only a year old—so to me, America was the only home I’ve ever known. However, when I stepped foot in the Philippines, I was overcome with the warmth of a mother’s embrace. People I had just met for the first time treated me as life-long family. As we shared our stories, though we grew up worlds apart, we saw ourselves in each other. However, I felt my shame as I recognized that while I’ve also gone through hardships, I’ve had privileges to ease the burdens. Yet I tend to wallow in my weakness, whereas my Philippine brothers and sisters revel in their resilience.
Before NEXTGEN, I was hung up on how it took me 5 years to complete my undergraduate studies and frustrated because I was going to take a year off to weigh my options before pursuing graduate school. I kept feeling inadequate because I wasn’t sure what to do with my life…
After NEXTGEN, I achieved some clarity and rekindled the fire in me that wants to be of service to others. Since coming back to the states, I have worked with Bayanihan’s president and founder, Dale Asis, to see how I can give back to this wondrous organization. Already, we managed to send over 150 books to our partners in Iligan and raised $3,000 towards the Pamasko, Tubig, and next NEXTGEN programs. I’ll also be helping out with our partner organization, DIWA, in conducting community outreach and raising awareness of mental health issues among the Filipino American and Asian American communities. In addition to volunteering for Bayanihan, I have also started my year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA as part of Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s initiative to empower Asian Americans in Chicago. Further still, I will be starting my master’s work as a Social Work student at Loyola next month to pursue my dreams of becoming a clinician for mental health.
After NEXTGEN, I have gained much more self-confidence and assurance that I want to use my life to promote social change for the better. I hope to do what I can to see this program continue to thrive and be a pivotal point for others’ lives.”
Your donation of $10, $100, $1,000 or whatever amount you can afford will make a difference in making sure that the NEXTGEN Program continues beyond its first launch. Your donation of $10 will provide two hours of leadership orientation for Jeselle and other NEXTGEN Fellows to help them in to learn more about the Philippines, connect and give. Would you consider donating today and make a difference? Donate today: http://bit.ly/1MYoP5u Your donation is being matched by the Foundation’s board members and dedicated donors. You can also check if you company could double your donation: http://bit.ly/1NWDFcr You can also donate by typing #donate on Facebook and Twitter. ‘Like’ us on Facebook and social media. Thank you for your support!