A forum on Strengthening the International Volunteer Service Program (IVSP) through Partnerships with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) Forum, held on 15 February 2024, at the University of Rizal System (URS) Morong campus, marked a significant step towards fostering collaboration and promoting volunteerism among HEIs. The event was attended by 175 participants from 27 HEIs across the country, both on-site and online via Zoom.

In photo: The attendees, both those present on-site at URS Morong and those participating online via Zoom
Image courtesy of URS

The forum commenced with a welcoming address from Mr. Donald James D. Gawe, Executive Director of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), highlighting the pivotal role of volunteerism in higher education and the importance of partnerships in enhancing volunteer programs.

In photo: ED Gawe as forum host and moderator, joined by DED Ela Sarmago
Image courtesy of URS

President Nancy Talavera-Pascual of URS reiterated in her welcoming remarks the institution’s commitment to volunteerism, citing past activities and outlining URS’s Volunteering Programs for FY 2024, including the establishment of a Volunteer Office and collaborations with PNVSCA.

In photo: URS Pres Pascual delivering the welcoming remarks and highlights of the 2024 URS Action Plan on Volunteerism
Image courtesy of URS

The significance of volunteerism in bridging theoretical learning with practical application was emphasized in the opening message of Director Freddie B. Bulauan of CHED CALABARZON, who encouraged students and staff to engage in community service.

In photo: Forum speakers from URS, CHED CALABARZON, and NEDA CALABARZON;
PNVSCA and IVSO panelists; and attendees from HEIs

A panel discussion, featuring representatives from PNVSCA, partner International Volunteer Service (IVS) organizations, and World Vision, delved into the importance, challenges, and opportunities in international volunteering, particularly in collaboration with HEIs.

During the discussion, Ms. Ela Victoria F. Sarmago provided an overview of PNVSCA’s role in coordinating volunteer programs in the Philippines, highlighting the IVS program.

Ms. Ingrid Saplagio then presented on behalf of the Australian Volunteers Program (AVP), emphasizing its mission to support partner organizations in achieving their development objectives.

At the forum, Ms. Nanette Repalpa shared the work of France Volontaires in promoting international volunteering and facilitating programs like the International Civic Service and International Solidarity Volunteering.

Ms. Pia Castillo of Global Initiative for Exchange and Development Inc. (GIED) emphasized the organization’s role in empowering youth and communities through intercultural exchanges and activities.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH’s efforts in promoting sustainable development and education activities globally were highlighted by Ms. Melissa Cruz.

Ms. Lara Javier presented the objectives of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) program, focusing on contributing to the socio-economic development of developing countries and strengthening friendship and mutual understanding between countries.

KOICA and its World Friends Korea (WFK) Program were introduced by Mr. Kevin Bricia, focusing on raising awareness about technical cooperation and fostering partnerships.

Mr. Ambet Yangco highlighted the impactful work of Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines, highlighting their dedication to making a positive impact in the country.

The Brigada Pagbasa Programme, a partnership between World Vision and the Department of Education aimed at improving literacy among Filipino children, was presented by Mr. Geomel Jetonzo.

During the panel discussion, representatives from the IVS organizations not only presented their organizations’ initiatives but also shared inspiring stories of volunteers making a difference in communities worldwide. These narratives underscored the transformative impact of volunteerism and served as a testament to the power of partnerships between IVS organizations and HEIs in driving positive change.

The attendees also inquired about the process of getting involved in IVS organizations’ programs, demonstrating a keen interest in volunteering for development. Beyond the formal sessions, the forum also provided networking opportunities, allowing participants to connect and explore potential collaborations in volunteerism and higher education. These exchanges enriched the event experience and laid the groundwork for potential partnerships and collaborations in volunteerism and higher education.

In her closing remarks, Assistant Regional Director Carmel P. Matabang of the National Economic and Development Authority CALABARZON reflected on the evolution of volunteerism, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and appreciating volunteers. She encouraged the cultivation of a culture of volunteerism for a more compassionate society.

The event concluded with the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to the speakers and panelists for their dedication to promoting volunteerism in higher education.

In photo: Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to forum speakers and panelists

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Visit the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.