Meet the Exchange Students of MCI

Profiles of Student Exchange Interns

Minority Care International (MCI), in partnership with Texas A&M University-Commerce and the University of Mindanao (UM) has once again chosen another batch of exchange students to undertake the Student Exchange Program.

Spring 2016

Charles Odal and Glenn Serencio

Charles Odal (left) and Glenn Serencio

Name: Charles Wisley Z. Odal
On July 20, 1995, a fine a young woman gave birth to child. The operation was quiet risky because the child was born breech (the baby exits the pelvis with the buttocks or feet first as opposed to the normal head-first presentation). The child later named Charles Wisley Z. Odal. By the way, the child is me. I was born and grow up in Manila, Philippines. With my family, we face the challenges of the society. Thieves, robbery, drug addicts and young gangsters are all around the corners of the smoky city. I still remember, in front of my face, when a street kid tried to steal my mother’s bracelet. They look like playing tag, pulling the bracelet from opposite sides. I thought at first that it is a normal phenomenon that is happening in the society, but as I grow up, I realized that it is actually a serious problem that must be resolved. The scenario became worse when my father lost his job. The cause for the lost is due to the competitive world wherein the strong will survive and the weak must be terminated, and so their company fell. Due to needs for us to survive we were forced to leave the city and go back to our clan’s place- the Davao Region. In there we struggle more than what we experienced in Manila. Leaving with no choice, my father has to work in banana plantation as a crates carrier- a job with harder work but lesser salary. My mother at same time has to work side jobs aside from his work as a Midwife. After her work, she has to buy bracelet, earrings and etc. for extra income. Due to lack of money to pay for our financial needs, my parents often quarrel. In my young eyes, I know that there are more things to be done than playing with my toys and with other children. My brother and I promised that someday we will be freed from this chain of agony and promised that our children will never experience the pain that we suffered. In our tradition, breech children are thought to have talent in aiding sick people and the tradition’s prophecy leads me to follow that track. On my last years in high school, allied health courses is calling my soul. However, despite my passion to be an allied health personnel, who can help in diagnosis and treatment of patients, it is impossible due to lack of financial capabilities.

My shattered dream as a Registered Medical Technologist someday was fixed by an organization called Minority Care International (MCI).  It is a non-profit organization existing exclusively to assist minorities in their needs. It is based on research and policy development and survey of community resources and needs. This organization helps me in my different needs that allows me to pursue my dream. It helps me in my educational and accommodation needs. It also helps me in developing myself as person, honing my talents for it to become more useful and unveiling my views to the reality of community problems. MCI converse lots of things in me. I was before the shy snail who was afraid in communicating others, afraid of speaking in crowd and afraid of revealing my feelings. I am now the slug outside the shell that is confident enough to walk without the comfort zone of the case.

The student exchange program, as part of the MCI annual project, will offer me broad based benefits and outcomes. The overarching exchange experiences will give me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and skills towards international discipline. It will give me the chance to have a greater understanding of cross-cultural differences, supplementation to the field where I’m studying and advance the skills in my profession. In addition, it will enable me to perceive the world beyond the pictures within our books. Immersing through the community as exchange student will allow me to witness the advancement in United States of America, which is considered as one of the leading country in economy, scientific research, technological innovation, health care system and educational scheme. By these it will help me as a student in a medical discipline to boost my knowledge, experience and skills in providing health care to my family and to the patients who will be under my care with more accuracy and precision. The credentials and the internship experience that I will be garnered will also help me to have a good background that I can place into my resume so that I can easily apply for a job in a very competitive world. Upon returning, I will incorporate the knowledge that I will be acquired into my life and as well into the community. It will enable me to collaborate recent global challenges such as human rights, poverty, climate change and global health. The awareness that I will be bringing will give spark for new beginning. Through these, I can help the community to become a better than the way it was and become the more proficient instrument that what God wants me to be.

Name: Glenn Serencio
I am Glenn Serencio, I was born in Panabo City, Philippines. I am currently a 4th year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in the University of Mindanao wherein I am also a Student Trainee Assistant (STA) or a working student. The life I have is not perfect. I came in a broken family. I have 4 siblings and I’m the second from our eldest. All of us have different father. I am a half Filipino-Polish, my father is from Poland but I haven’t seen him ever since my mom gave birth to me. I don’t have a connection with my father so I can really say that I grew up with no father supporting me in my decisions and in my education. I can still remember way back in my elementary days that my teacher had her lesson of how important family is and she said that the father stood as the foundation of the family in which he will support his wife and his children. That day opened my eyes of the life that I have. Whenever I see a happy family, there is really a pinch in me that I can’t bear that sometimes I want to lock myself in my room and just think blankly. As time goes by, I just thought of it as a challenged and live with a normal life because I am still lucky of having my mom in my side. My life continues until I reached high school when my mom told us that she mortgaged the title of our house for money to sustain our education and for our everyday consumption since we don’t have a source of income and she used the money to start a small business. We had a good start with our business but as time passed by the income slowly decreases that it can no longer sustain our needs so my mom decided to stop our business. Having no one that will going to support us, my mom decided to sell our house for a low cost before it will be foreclosed. After I graduated high school, we moved to Manila to have a new life but what is waiting for us in there is a great challenge that we experienced to transfer from one house to another house because we don’t have enough money. By that time I never went to college because of the situation that we had so during that year I looked for a job and luckily we had a relative who owns a small business so I worked in there as a waiter to help my mom for our expenses. Because of poverty my mom decided to go abroad to sustain our needs and our education. We stayed in Manila for almost a year and we’ve experienced a lot that opened my eyes to the reality. My mom then went to abroad as a lady driver and so we decided to go back here in Mindanao and live in Davao City. I went back to school and decided to take the examination for Student Trainee Assistant Program (STAP) to help lessen the burden of my mom and luckily I passed the examination. But still it is not enough because the scholarship will only cover my tuition so I still have to pay for my miscellaneous and we also need to pay for the rent of the house. Our eldest can’t help me with my studies because he didn’t finished college degree and is now unemployed. So I applied for another job (part-time job) and luckily passed as a call center agent. Working while studying is so hard that I don’t have a time for my studies at all, but I will do everything for my family and my future. I just realized that my mom stood as a father and mother to us. She is really brave enough to raise us by herself, send us to school and give our needs. Despite all that, we still continue to laugh, smile and look for the positive outlook of life. The situation I have maybe the reason why I am very serious to finish my study and I thought that I have the worst situation in life not until I join Minority Care International last 2012 in which the organization really serves as an eye opener to the young individuals. The founder of the organization is Sir Aland D. Mizell in which he serves as the father/guardian of the minorities having different cultures and from the different parts of Mindanao. They also offer scholarship program to those individuals who cannot send by their parents to college. Having this diverse culture in the organization enables me to deal properly with different people, respect their culture and tradition and knowing their experiences and their life in the journey to MCI is really great. In the organization, we discussed about social issues like government, culture and religion, economy and many more that serves as awareness about what is really happening around the world. We also have programs like “Tools-for-School” wherein we give school supplies to those children in the remote areas or to those children who are less fortunate and we do that annually and many more programs that can help other people and also serves as an enhancement to us, members. With those programs, it allows me to see the world in a broader perspective that the challenges that I have experiencing now is a little too far from the challenges that these young ones are currently experiencing. As a member of this organization, it really honed me to be a better individual not only by serving the community but also by serving God. Indeed, God really used MCI as an instrument to help the community and the minorities that are part of this organization to be fully polished and equipped for whatever challenges and obstacles that life may bring.

As this year approaches, the MCI started to thrive its goals and as Sir Aland entrusted me to be part of its yearly student exchange program that the two chosen students will be given a chance to study abroad for one semester. I am overwhelmed by the thought of studying abroad is just like a dream to me and now it is happening. I am astonished of thinking that I will have the chance to develop more my skills and to know more about the diversity of the culture of the United States. The scholarship will give an opportunity to individuals to become a part of the exchange student in Texas. I am thankful to Sir Aland, my MCI family and also to Texas A & M University- Commerce for giving me the chance to experience the life in the United States, to broaden more my perspective in life. It will surely give a formal and informal learning to me as I take a step to my journey to the great United States of America. It will definitely sharpen me as a competitive individual. This will surely give me an edge to the near future. I will participate in class and in any activities because by that I will have a full understanding about the richness of its diverse culture. It is in fact a blessing to me by God. Truly exceptional experience to live and to know the culture of a place that I never imagined in my entire life that one day, as a student, I will have the opportunity to travel and to witness the beauty of Texas. I will surely grasp every idea that the people in Texas will impart to me and bring it back to the Philippines as a one good memory to share to my colleagues and to help improve our community.

I will have a formal learning in terms of studying in a prestigious school in Texas which is the Texas A & M University- Commerce. This will help me improve my skills in engineering field and also it will surely develop my self confidence in dealing with the students and professors in this prestige university. Studying abroad will help me increase my awareness about global issues and also to be more mature in dealing with the problems and to improve self-reliance.

This exchange program will surely be one of my edges in the near future. As I have been to one of the prestigious schools in Texas and the skills that I acquired in my journey to US will help me to be a competitive individual. Moreover, the fact that the educational standard of US is really high and it can be my advantage when I go back to my country. Indeed, this program will give me a great perspective in life.

I will also have an informal education in terms of knowing the cultures of the Texas people and adjusting to the new environment since it’s my first time to stay in US. I will absolutely explore every corners of the place, learn how they live their life and savor each moment as I collect every lesson and hone my skills to use it for my community. Hence, I am very thankful to God because he gave me this one of a kind opportunity and to MCI for being the bridge to my dream and will certainly give back all the things that I will learn in my journey to my community as we, MCI, believe in the saying that “Gaining life by giving to others” and through that I am sure it will change the perception of every individual about life.

FALL 2014

Romelyn Antipuesto Name: Romelyn Antipuesto
I’m Romelyn Antipuesto born in the province of Compostela Valley. I belong to mansaka tribe. I have one brother. I grew up in a loving and caring family despite of all the hardships we face. I grew up in a less fortunate family. My father is a carpenter while my mother stays at home. She takes care the family and she’s such a loving mother. Minority Care International (MCI) is the answer for my prayer. God uses people to be his instrument, and God used Sir Aland that brought me to MCI. MCI really helps me in many ways. Because of MCI I am able to continue my studies in college. MCI does not solely financially support students who are in need but also involved in people’s lives. MCI teaches me to pay back to community and become part of the community. And the most important thing MCI helps me how to balance my life. Where I am now it is because of God’s work and I am thankful to have this opportunity to be part of this organization. I always believe in God’s purpose and God chose me to be here. God gave me a chance to be part of MCI students exchange program. It was a lifetime experience. I never imagined I would go to the United States. I learned a lot during my stay in the United States. MCI program broadens my knowledge and skills as a student in class, work and new environment. It also measures and enhances my social ability because of my exposure in different people and situations. The experience I had during the whole duration of the program educated me through formal and informal education. The formal education that it gives is the opportunity to study in U.S. for a semester and experienced a different educational system with more advanced technological aspect of educating, and also the knowledge learned from classroom with the courses taken. Furthermore, the Internship gives me an opportunity to work in a company. The workplace suitable for the students to practice its profession that will ensure quality professional mentoring and skill enhancement to make student become competitive. On the other hand, the informal education enables me as exchange student to experience and be exposed to another culture. With the exposure it helps me to develop and exercise interpersonal relationship and social ability to deal with people in classroom, work place and outside. A part from it, is on how to live life differently from what I’m used to. Through this, it measures the flexibility in adjusting to a new environment and endurance to face every challenges and differences being encountered. My whole experience broadens my knowledge and understanding in class, work, people and diverse culture. It created my confidence to face people and be flexible wherever I went. The experience I have cannot be learned even in my four years studies in school. Indeed, it is a unique experience that offers new knowledge and that changes me as a person.

I’m thankful to be a part of the student exchange program, before it is only a dream for me to step in U.S., but with the opportunity given to me by Minority Care International (MCI), those dreams turns into reality. I am sincerely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that changed me to be a better person and gives me a wider perspective on what it looks like in other culture and country. Indeed, MCI does not solely financially support student who are in need but also involved in people’s lives. Truly, Minority Care International (MCI) is the best organization to be involved, through its activities and programs it shapes, educates and helps students to also involve in community. The Student’s exchange program is the greatest opportunity that a student could experience.

Nafia Asaral Name: Nafia Asaral
Transforming My Culture of Conflict to a Community of Educated Activists I live in a province of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines. It is near Cotabato City. This place is mainly composed of Muslims and Christians. I grew up under the tradition and culture of a Muslim community. I can say that the life here is so tough. The place is sometimes quite turbulent where the threat of bombings and quarreling occurs. The worst event that I’ve seen and heard was during the Maguindanao Massacre. It involved killings and other inhumane treatment. During this time the road became so delicate to pass by because there was always a possibility of killings through ambush or assassination while riding inside the transportation service or car. This event put Mindanao into one of the most controversial history that had ever happened. In that area, there are great numbers of youth who do not attend to school and who are involved in different vices like smoking, drinking and other illegal doings. It is because the families cannot support the children in sending them to school due to the status of their lives. These kinds of situations opened up my eyes to view the kind of life there. This is one of the reasons that gave me a motivation to have goals in life. I belong to the underprivileged. We are a big family with eleven siblings: five girls, including me, and my six brothers. I am the sixth among the siblings. I still have five younger brothers and sisters. Having a huge family is not easy because there are number of children to feed, and my parents cannot sustain the individuals’ needs. I know this is one of the hardships of my parents. My father is a high school graduate. He is a fisherman. My mother attained grade four in the elementary level. She is currently a housewife.

I can still remember during my elementary years, our house was so far away from school. It took how many minutes or an hour before I could arrive at school. I couldn’t ride a tricycle or jeep because I had no money for my fare. Instead of riding I just walked with my strong legs and feet in order to reach the institution. Sometimes I was late when I got there. As a result, I received a punishment like singing the National Anthem alone and sitting in the air for about twenty minutes under the sun. In spite of the hard situation, I took this as a challenge and discipline for me even though sometimes I got angry with my teacher because they didn’t have any consideration for my circumstances. I could not speak up to say that it was also unfair to other students like me who were also always late because of their inability to have transportation. This is the everyday routine of my elementary years. After this level, the sufferings still continued. When I was in high school, I experienced going to school with empty stomach and no allowance because my parents could not afford to provide for our needs especially the school supplies. In my four years in secondary, my mother wasn’t able to buy a uniform for me. I didn’t complain to her for I knew that we had a financial problem. But I found ways to help them. When I was in the second year, I applied for a summer job and luckily I entered in a very challenging job. I carried big stones to be piled near the sea just to block the waves, cleaning the bad and odorous smell of canals in the market and planting trees and flowers in the municipality. I did lots of sacrifices just to help my parents meet our needs in school. At last my problem about my providing help was solved. But this was not the last problem I had. I also had my tuition fees unpaid in school. Although the public school is free, there still some extra payments to be made. And my mother couldn’t afford to pay for them. I was almost tired of thinking on where should I get money just to pay this. But because of God’s presence and guidance, there is someone who offered me help. With their help, I continued my studies until I graduated from high school but it did not continue for college.

My parents could not support our studies especially in college. My older siblings were not able to go to college and finish the ladder of a college education. Some of them finished only high school and elementary level. Sometimes they blamed my parents because they (my parents) did not find ways to send them to college. They always tend to put the blame on our parents because of the life that they have right now. Since my parents could not afford my studies and I had the determination to study in college, I found ways until a friend of mine introduced me to Minority Care International. As an applicant, I tried my best just to get a scholarship. This was the only chance, so that I could help my family and also be able to help my siblings in their studies in the future. The frustrations and nervousness was still in me at that time because I was still in the application period. The burdens in my heart were reduced and lightened my spirit when Sir Aland announced that I qualified and was officially one of his scholars. I am thankful that I am one of the scholars of Minority Care International (MCI). He teaches us, “Everyone has a place in society.” The scholarship offers help for those students who cannot afford to go to college especially the minorities. They help underprivileged students like me. I am the only one who goes to college among the eleven siblings. The organization opened up my mind to have a broad outlook in life. I’ve learned a lot here and act as an instrument to improve myself. The scholarship does not focus only on academics but also in different aspects of life-- physically, socially and most of all holistically. It teaches me to become a leader and to boost myself to speak in public. It also teaches me to help the community; that’s why we have this motto: “Gaining life by giving to others.” The organization stands up as a light to renew my whole being. I am thankful to SIR ALAND for teaching and helping me to become a well-rounded individual. To sum up, MCI serves as a bridge to continue our dreams and touches our lives to become better persons.

The scholarship offers an opportunity for the students to become part of the Student Exchange Program in Texas. Indeed, I am deeply grateful to God, to my MCI family together with the Texas A & M University- Commerce that I have this privilege to experience life in the United States and what it will be like to live there. This program provides an avenue for me to have formal and informal learning, which undeniably will hone me to become a better individual. By participating in the classes and activities, I will grasp the multicultural diversity and understand more the beauty of its cultural exclusivity. Truly, it is a one of a kind opportunity and a blessing for me to study abroad and to experience life in Texas. Furthermore, beyond my wildest dreams I never imagined that one day I would be given an opportunity to see other parts of the world. It will be the first time in my life to ride in an airplane. The exchange will surely be an amazing and breathtaking experience. I never expected that I would still be a student, but even less to have the opportunity to go to the U.S. and to experience the formal and informal education.

The formal education is studying in one of the prestigious schools (A & M Texas University- Commerce). Studying in Commerce will make me proud and be a great blessing. It is my great privilege. It will help me to find myself in an environment that is unfamiliar to me. It will develop my self-awareness and self-esteem. Studying abroad will enable me to mature quickly and develop independence. For instance, joining a foreign academic institution will be the first experience of mine that results in living away from my parents, siblings and friends. I know that the school will broaden and enhance my interests in global issues as well as increase my knowledge and skills as their own student. It will also help me to deal with the good environment that they have as I leave mine behind for the semester.

Being in the Student Exchange Program can give me great horizons and important credit. Once I finish my college education and am actively seeking employment, there is no doubt that employers will look favorably upon me; for example, when I am applying for a job, they will look at my resume, and I’ll will be accepted immediately because of this background. People here in the Philippines admire and have high expectations for those people who have worked and studied in U.S. because the United States has high standards in terms of education and experiences. This program is a way for me to compare this good educational system and the Philippine one and to learn more about the kind of relationship that has existed between the United States and Philippines.

The Informal education will let me adjust to the new environment by dealing with the people from different cultures and traditions. It will improve my social ability and allow me to know their community. In this way I will be able to feel comfortable in “foreign” environments. I believe that these experiences will influence my lifetime learning. This program is an excellent opportunity for me to gain new interests, get an education and gain an appreciation for diversity all at the same time. This has already served as the starting point of my dreams in order to raise my family from poverty and help my oppressed and needy community. In this way, I will be able to share the great experiences and stand up as a good model to them. Through sharing, it might be a key to motivate and encourage them. I am so thankful to God because He planned this all.

Estephanie Ebrano Name: Estephanie (Stephanie) Ebrano
From Memories of Destitution to Means for Success

Each individual has his or her own story to tell. Most of the time, it starts painfully, but it helps us to place importance on every little thing that we have right now. For me, it is even hard to recall those memories of mine because it brought me to tears. I was a product of a broken family. When I was just a three-month old baby, my mother broke up with my father because he was a womanizer, a drug user and an alcoholic husband. He always went home drunk. He didn’t even give money to her because he spent it on his vices like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. He had caused my mother so much pain because of such inhumane treatment. These are just some of the reasons why I cannot blame my mother for leaving him. As a result, she needed to leave me with our relatives in order to earn a living for us. When I entered my primary education, my mother was not there to accompany me in going to school. She was so busy earning a living for us. It was just the two of us sharing those hard moments until she met my stepfather. Though I have my stepfather to support me, it was still not easy for me to attain my elementary and secondary education. I used to sell Filipino pastries along the street of Tibungco, Davao City under the heat of the sun in order to have some money to buy my school requirements. It was hard because I could remember how much I loved to play during those times, but it was not an option at that time. I needed to help my mother so that we could have something to eat.

At an early age, my eyes were widely open to the face of poverty. I am the first one in the family to finish secondary education, and I now may finish tertiary education. At that time, I didn’t have any idea about how to achieve it since we didn’t have enough money for me to pursue my studies, so even entering tertiary education was uncertain.

Education nowadays is such a huge asset to have a better life in the future. Without it, it would be difficult to attain a good job. It is a tool to compete in order to survive. This is the reason why I have the eagerness to go to school and elevate the status of our family. It was difficult to find a scholarship at that time because there were so many competing for the scholarships. I was very relieved by this victory when Minority Care International (MCI) granted me the scholarship. MCI is such a magnificent gift from God. Without it, I believe that going to college would have been very impossible. It is also a big help especially for my parents. The program gave me training in work ethics. It also gave me a dormitory to live in. It touches every part of my life including those weaknesses and failures that I have. It helps me to become beneficial to others by teaching me how to give back to the community. Personally, it helps me to become a responsible person. Socially, it helps me boost my self-confidence through letting me speak in front of crowds. It leads me to discover the talents and gifts that I thought I never had. I could really see a better person in front of the mirror because of MCI. I thought it would only help me go to school, but they provide everything that I need. When Sir Aland told me that I will be part of the Student Exchange program, I wasn’t able to react because it is too impossible for me to grasp the idea. The thought of even going to US had never come to my mind. I never thought that I would even have a glimpse of the other side of the earth. The idea of a deprived girl, who before was just dreaming to go to school but now is having this opportunity, is amazing. This is a great privilege for me.

Nowadays, the Philippines has an issue regarding unemployment. The higher the education you have, the greater the possibility that you could have a good job. I believe that the Student Exchange Program will enhance my employment prospects through having earned units abroad. This is an edge for me when I apply for employment because our country places a high value on international experience. At the same time, studying abroad will aid me in building valuable employment skills, such as language ability, cultural education, and tolerance for ambiguity, flexibility, and communication. On the other hand, studying at one of the most prestigious universities in Texas will give me an advantage that others don’t have. Compare to the United States, the Philippines don’t have those improved technologies that will guide students in learning. Since I am on the path on becoming a teacher of students with special needs, this will also help me improve my teaching skills. Through direct observation of the system of education there, I can get some ideas on how to improve the system of education of our country. I also want to have greater understanding of both my own and another culture as well as meet new people and develop lasting friendships. I believe that if I can have the opportunity to be with these people, this will also train me to adjust and adapt in diverse culture since the United States is a multicultural country. The informal education that I could experience in this program will help me learn how to work well in any kind of individual or state of affairs. Above all, it will help me grow in self-confidence and become more independent. The experience could help me develop personally, emotionally and spiritually. This could be a stepping-stone for me to have more achievements in the future. Without this program, I could not attain all these benefits. It is impossible for my family to give me such opportunity because we don’t have money. Even going to college will be impossible since the salary of my father is just enough for our food consumption. I could consider this opportunity as a privilege since not all students were given the chance to have it.

FALL 2012

Name: May Dumas
Course: B.S. Accountancy
Tribe: Visayan
The journey of life is not that easy. A long the journey that we take, we encountered different trials and difficulties. Some times we want to give up because we cannot handle those trials and difficulties that we faced. But one thing I learn in life is that if we have strong foundation to achieve our determination it is necessary for us to experience those trials and difficulties no matter how hard it is.

I have two brothers and six sisters. My four sisters and one brother are already married. My family currently lives in Talicud Island Garden City of Samal. I belong to the Bol-anon tribe. I could say that my family and me belong in the lower socio-economic class. My father is a fisherman and my mother is a plain housewife.

I finished my elementary studies at my hometown. I graduated high school at Fatima de Davao. I am proud to say that I finished high school by being a working student. I worked for one year as a baby sitter and, at the same time, I go to school.

Even when I was in elementary, I have a part time job, which was cleaning our neighbor's backyard every weekend so that I can earn money for my allowance. It is hard for me to work while studying at a young age of 16 years old but I have no choice because we are poor. My parents cannot afford to send us to school due to financial difficulties. None of my siblings have finish college. So I was motivated to pursue my dreams because I believe that poverty is not hindrance to success. After I finished high school, I applied for part time jobs at different establishments in Davao City. Unfortunately, I didn't get any offer. Because of my determination to finish college, I applied to the University of Mindanao as a working student but I wasn't able to enroll because I need to pay for one semester worth of tuition first before I can avail the program. I didn't have money to pay so I applied for a full-time job as a sales lady of the loading station. I saved money because I really wanted to enroll in the University. Minority Care International offered a full tuition scholarship including accommodation as well as allowance until I finish my college degree. With the help of MCI, I am proud to say that I am now in the higher level of my education. MCI even helped me with the expenses of my tumor operation. I have a deep debt of gratitude to MCI.Since I became part of MCI, my life had changed for the better. MCI teaches me so many things. When I became part of MCI, I have more experience that I have never been experience before. I experience to go to the different beautiful places where our retreat was held. It was one of the great activities because we have bonding together with MCI sponsors as well as my co-scholars and members. It was more fun because we play many games, we shared our different stories and the important part is that we read non-fiction stories. I really learned from the stories that we have read. I am very enlightened from the stories. I really motivated to pursue my dreams because of Ben Carson story entitled "Gifted Hand."

In addition, I learn about social issues, poverty, business, global issues and many others from our study forum. It really helps me to give awareness about those issues. Sometimes, I can't deny that I sometimes get tired in attending our study forum but I force myself to attend because it's good for me as a student. For me, I'll become a better person if I attend study forum rather than hanging out with my friends. Furthermore, the greatest activity that I really want most is our fellowship. By having our fellowship, my spirituality has change. I am not saying that I am really matured enough in terms of spiritually but somehow there is a change in me.

I am so thankful to MCI because it gives me more opportunities. I never expect that this year to be chosen as one of the scholars for the cross-cultural studies because I know that I do not deserve this. Indeed, I am still thankful to MCI because they still give me this great opportunity. It is privilege for me because not all students can have this opportunity. I am looking forward that this cross-cultural study can help me to broaden my knowledge. Also, I believe that I can learn more about the American culture. Furthermore, the experience to work in Killgore family's office can help me in my chosen course. Also, I am so thankful to Ma'am Cecilia and Sir Dale Money for their generosity to letting me stay in their house. It is privilege for me stay in their house. I am honored to them because they are not hesitant to accept me. I am looking forward to become a friend to their family. I know that when I am there I can learn so many things from them and I will apply it into myself also I will share it to others. Above all things, I really thank to God for all the blessings that I received and also to MCI. I really treasure for every moment with MCI.

Name: Arlhy Bereber
Course: B.S. Nursing
Tribe: Visayan
I was born December of 1989 and grew up in a small village on top of the mountain in the province of Sultan Kudarat island of Mindanao, Philippines. I belong to Ilonggo tribe. I am the youngest of the nine siblings; I have three older brothers and five older sisters. We have a caring and loving mother; she takes care of us and really does her best to make our lives comfortable even though we are in the midst of poverty. On the other hand, my father is a traditional one, he is not that sweet parent but he is hardworking and disciplinarian. Both of them are farmers and farming is the basic source of our income. Even though, they have different personality but they were able to raise us in a good way. The most important life lesson that they taught us is that, we should have self-discipline and we should give respect to others especially to the elders.

Life for me is like an uphill run on a rocky road. At a very young age, I already endured life's struggles in order to survive. I can still remember the days that I went to school without a single penny; it's really hard to see my classmates buy any foods that they want and me sitting alone on my armchair staring at them. The days when I need to use kerosene lamp to study and answer my assignments because our village has no source of electricity. The days wherein before going to school I need to sell vegetables with my father so that we have something to eat. One time, I saw my mother crying, it was really a heartbreaking moment for me. My family's struggle of all these trials is my motivation to study hard and do my best to achieve my goals in life. I believe that these tests will just make me stronger as person. In fact, despite of all these challenges I was able to graduate elementary then high school and I believe very soon in college.

In addition, my journey with MCI started when my classmates Gliezl and Jerald who were both members of the MCI Students Association encouraged me to join its weekly study forum. At first, I was really hesitant to join the organization because I thought it was like other organizations that were engaged to street demonstrations and commit public disturbances. But when I joined the study forum for the very first time, then I realized that MCI had a wonderful mission and vision not just only to those who will join the group but to our community as well. From then on, MCI has become a family to me that guides me how to be a productive fellow to my community.

I became a regular member of MCI and participated to the different activities that MCI offered to us such as seminars, study forum, community projects, tools for school and annual retreats. Sometimes I find myself down because I failed an exam or I have family problems but spending time with Sir Aland and other scholars often lift me up. MCI has a great impact to me and also to the other members. It's really a blessing from above that it came into our lives. The various life lessons that MCI has given us will serve as our wall against trials and problems that might come underway as we reach our goals in life. I am so thankful to MCI in leadership of Sir Aland Mizell for the continues support and believing that we have a gift that sooner or later in our own little ways, we can use it to make a difference in our community just like what MCI are doing to our lives.

FALL 2011

Pearl Joy Bayanon Name: Pearl Joy Bayanon
Course: B.S. Accountancy
Tribe: Ilonggo and Visayan
The Lord has thousands of promises written in the scripture and one of these is in Jeremiah 29:11 that says:" For I know the plans I have for you "declares the Lord" plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you and a future.

Indeed, His word is alive and so true. I am here to testify God's wonderful plans He already set for me and how he brought MCI into my life which truly a blessing from above.

I am Pearl Joy Bayanon born in the province of South Cotabato, year 1990. I belong to Ilonggo and Visaya tribe. I have four siblings; two sisters and two brothers. I came from a less-fortunate family and at an early age, I was able to understand what poverty means. During my childhood years particularly when I am still studying in grade school, I have to walked everyday a couple of miles away under the heat of the sun before reaching the school I go to. Consequently, there were times I would arrive to school late. I cannot forget the embarrassment when my classmates tease me during recess time since I cannot afford to buy something to eat. I do not have an enough allowance and they were teasing me for that. Yet, I managed to understand my family's situation since I have lots of siblings especially my father was jobless because of his illness. My mother took on the responsibility of earning a living for us to survive. In order to help my parents I sell banana cues, chips and among others at school so in my own little means I could help them. Before my graduation in my grade school the saddest part of life came because my father passed away unexpectedly Last 2002.This incident has brought the entire family into grieving situation since we loved him dearly and became good father to us too. Also during my high school years, I still had the same struggle walking everyday to school with regarding the heat of the sun. Another sense of sacrifice is when for many times we only have to eat rice porridge and add salt into it to make the food somehow tasty. Some of my relatives keep saying that we should stop going to school and just to find work instead. This situation made me realize that I should finish my studies to help my family get out from poverty.

In addition to, I left my hometown right after graduating from secondary school to go to Davao city having heard that one of my mother's relative will financially support me with my studies. They promised my mother that they can help her by sending college. However, as I arrived in their house; they only accepted me as their helper and took advantage of our situation. So, I left them to find a living.

I had so many struggles at that moment because I chose to stay at Davao rather than going back to my town. It prompted me to look for whatever available job to sustain my daily needs. After sacrificial times, I finally accepted to a job that requires me to teach English language to Koreans about three hours for three times a week. I also decided to use my remaining time to look for another one, after that one of the fast food chains in Davao hired me as part-time service crew. This is because in the Philippines, they pay low wages to workers, so still I cannot afford to pay tuition fee. Aside from that, I have to meet the increasing demands of day to day expenses which are very expensive and unaffordable. The toughest is that I have to keep and carry all burdens by myself. I almost lose hope by that time that I thought of maybe God does not take notice of me.

But, in God's perfect time Minority Care International (MCI) came into my life. I am very grateful to God for opening the door for me by finding MCI. I learned about it through one of my friend named May, one of MCI scholars. She encouraged me to join the study forum every Saturday and I am thankful to meet the MCI president, Dr. Aland Mizell with whom I opened up my story and he also taught me a lot of things too. After some time, he let me become one of the MCI scholars. Indeed, MCI does not only financially support the students who are in need but also involve in people's lives. They teach us to live a balance life: education and character as the bird having two wings in order to fly and soar high. They are giving emphasis on principles and values to be used in reality. MCI assists students who are underprivileged and came from far-flung areas specifically in Mindanao by giving scholarship program. Also, every Saturday MCI is conducting study forum that tackles important areas and aspects of life. Presently, we do have fifty- members who are participating in the said activity. It actually promotes the spirit of camaraderie, sense of nationalism, to become God-fearing, environmentally-friendly and socially concern.

MCI believes the importance of service learning, as it try to help change the way society organizes itself, and has its own ways addressing social problems, thus create social change. MCI has annual community outreach project called "Tools for schools" to a chosen lumad- community. It aims to instill awareness to us MCI students on the importance of love through giving, selfless sharing among the needy. Last December, MCI gave a water tank to the Care for the Elderly Foundation; a home for the aged institution. This water tank project was borne -out due to widened necessity of water supply to the constituents of the foundation. Moreover, in order to protect and restore the forest and to counteract the rapid environmental degradation as organization initiated a tree planting drive at Davao just this March. MCI conducts annually a special three-day retreat held every summer. This is to ensure that students can unwind and at the same time be reminded of spiritual responsibility.

Also, MCI initiates leadership seminars and conferences to other universities in Mindanao especially to five famous universities at Davao and by having speakers who are successful from their own walks of life. More importantly, MCI has this cross-cultural exchange program in which the students study for a semester at TAMU-Commerce both to learn in a formal and informal ways, wherein I and Jerald are humbly thankful because we are chosen to be part of it.

I am really thankful to all people behind MCI and I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to MCI benefactors.

Jerald Cabangcala Name: Jerald Cabangcala
Course: B.S. Nursing
Tribe: Ilonggo

"Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18)."

Life is a continuous struggle for survival and achievements. And for these reasons we always tend to find the best way in facing this challenge of life.

I am Jerald M. Cabangcala, the youngest in our family. I belong to the Ilonggo tribe and I grew up from a poor but caring family that tries to maximize and use every resource that we have in order to survive. That is why our parents emphasized to us the value of education. They actually call it -education- as the only thing that they can give us when the time for them to leave us arrives. Indeed, it is true. And thus, we view education us our tool to fight poverty and achieve our goals in life.

Currently, I am taking up nursing as a second course. And it was during my second year of nursing study that I came to know the Minority Care International (MCI) organization. It was actually introduced to me by Jul, a close friend, who is a scholar of MCI. Then he invited me to attend the study forum. Because he was my friend I decided to attend the said study forum, it was then that I formally met MCI.

After that first encounter with MCI, instead of going to other places on Saturday nights, I decided to continuously attend the study forum (from 7pm-9pm) for the reason that it helps me to make my time more meaningful and fruitful. Moreover, I was also invited to attend the fellowship every Sunday afternoon together with the President of MCI-Dr. Aland Mizell- and with the scholars. It was a privilege for me to be in the fellowship for it widens my views about religious perspectives and it strengthens my faith to God.

I personally treasure every moment that I spend with MCI. For every activity that we do and fulfill gives us lessons that we could bring all throughout our lives. In every study forum that we had, we learn real issues and problems that every person are encountering. And through these studies our social, environmental, global, moral and spiritual awareness had been enhance. Thus, we as students are driven to respond to every learning that we earn through the help of MCI. For we are not only taught by MCI to be socially, environmentally, globally, morally, and spiritually aware but also to be socially, environmentally, globally, morally, and spiritually involved. Thus, with the aid of MCI we were moved and inspired to do some programs and activities that could realize our learning. Some of these activities are the donation of water tank for the elderly, in which we raise funds to have the water tank. We also linked with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and had our tree planting. Likewise, we had also extended help in a Medical Mission. And annually MCI conducts Tool for School for less fortunate children. And with this activity we learn not only to receive but also to give. As we learn from our fellowship says there is no poor that has nothing to give. Likewise, to be morally and spiritually equipped we are very fortunate to be invited in the annual retreat that is conducted by the Minority Care International.

We are indeed learning a lot through the assistance of MCI. For as a student, usually our focus is just to learn those things or ideas that are directly related to our course. However, the Minority Care International fills the area where in our courses do not offer the knowledge that we need to acquire in this life.

Meeting the Minority Care International was both a joy and a blessing for me, and I believe for every member and scholar of the organization. It is because; MCI is giving us, not just knowledge and information, but the right direction on how to live this life that we are living. Likewise, the MCI serves as an icon of hope for us who are struggling to reach every goal that we desire in life through education. For every student, both scholars and members, of this organization come from poor and ordinary families that aim to survive by sending us to school. And, it is such an enormous blessing and a gift for us to know and be a part of the help that the MCI serves to every person in need.

It is my honor to tell the great and generous story of MCI. MCI sends underprivileged students to school without any expectation in return. Moreover, they are also sending students for exchange program to study and widen their experience in Texas with their full support. It was such a great blessing and privilege for me to be a part of the student exchange program. For I definitely know that my family cannot afford to send me to study in other country. Until now I cannot contain the joy and thanksgiving that I am experiencing for this opportunity that the Minority Care International had given to me. It was indeed a dream come true.

Through this we thank God for the person -Dr. Aland Mizell- that He had used to be an instrument of conceptualizing and making the Minority Care International realized and also for those persons -MCI Benafactors- that He had chosen to be instruments to make MCI possible and functioning. In behalf of all the students of MCI, with heartfelt gratitude, I say thank you for all your support and sacrifices. Thank you specially for all of you who spend both your material support and your time. God will surely reward you for all your noble works. Indeed, the Minority Care International "gains life by serving others".

With men it is impossible; but to God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Thank you and God Bless."

FALL 2010

Aquisah Ampuan Name: Aquisah Ampuan
Course: B.S. Nursing
Tribe: Muslim Maranao

"I grow up with the beliefs and traditions of a Maranao tribe. Mostly in our culture, women usually get married at an early age. Our parents are the ones who will decide and fix marriage for us. Our parents are the ones who will decide and fix marriage for us. They thought that this way they're assured that their child will be better if she can find partner in life. A negative consequence is that they set aside the importance of education.

My father tried to put me in a fixed marriage at the same time I applied for a scholarship of MCI. It was against my will and caused me to have strained relationship with my father. Luckily, I got the scholarship from MCI thanks to MCI President Sir Aland Mizell for believing in me.

This is where Minority Care International came into my life just as when I thought I couldn't pursue my dream to be a professional nurse. Because of their help, I was motivated to finish my studies and fulfill my dreams in life.

I thought it would remain to be an unfufilled dream to become a nurse. The saying of "when God closes a door, He opens a window," was shown the time I got a scholarship from MCI. God is always making a way to help underprivilege minority like me. MCI organization was created to help and reach out to needy minorities like me.

I didn't expect to be one of the exchange students to participate in a cross-cultural study. It is a great opportunity given by MCI organization to me. I'm so thankful to be one of those students. I know it will help students like me to develop awareness and understanding on how great the American culture is and to bring that greatness back into my community. One day when I achieve my dream, I desire to help other people through MCI. Words will never be enough to express my gratitude to MCI and how much the organization means to my life. I look at life more positively now and with a deeper understanding thanks to the scholarship and value formation given to me through MCI."

-Aquisah

Anidah Macadato Name: Anidah Macadato
Course: B.S. Nursing
Tribe: Muslim Maranao

"At a young age, I experience how difficult life is. When I graduated in high school I worked at a department store in order to survive and to pay for daily expenses instead of going to school. I also remember the time when some of my siblings were given to the care of my aunt and uncle to be raised as their own children. Life is hard especially for my family and myself as minorities. I sacrificed my studies to contribute money so my family can make ends meet. My parents had to give my other siblings away to be able to care for us who were left behind.

At first I thought that my dream to become a nurse would forever remain a dream due to financial problems. My parents do not have enough income to send me to college because they don't have permanent jobs and had to bring food to the table. Education was not option for me. It greatly saddened me but I understand how financially hard it was for my parents to raise us.

But when MCI came into my life, they granted my dream to pursue my nursing studies. They provide a scholarship for my studies in nursing. I'm currently in my sophomore year studying Bachelor of Science in Nursing thanks to all benefactors of MCI.

MCI opened another door of opportunity to me. It is a great privilege to be chosen as one of the cross-cultural exchange students. I hope to learn about the American culture by attending Texas A & M University - Commerce. I will also learn more about nursing from being an intern student in one of the big hospitals in Texas. The experience that I will gain in this cross-cultural study will extend my knowledge in my nursing field and widen my view in life."

-Anidah

FALL 2009

Minority Care International (MCI), in partnership with Texas A&M University-Commerce and the University of Mindanao (UM), is pleased to announce the first two MCI scholars to embark on a Student Exchange Program in what promises to be the first of many. Solaica Derendegen and Sarah Sultan will leave on August 27, 2009, for the United States to begin taking cross-cultural courses and participating in an internship program. Solaica will forge her cross-cultural experience working twenty hours a week in the nursing internship program at the Presbyterian Hospital of Greenville (near A&M-Commerce). Sarah, a business major, will intern twenty-hours a week in the Financial Trust Service office of Dee Hilton to learn American business practices and share those used in the Philippines.

Name: Solaica Derendegen
Course: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Tribe: Maranao

"MCI help me more than I had ever imagined. At a very young age, I thought and constantly worry what my life would be, especially when my father passed away and my mother got married again and got more children. The events in my life led me into thinking that , I will end up having worthless and miserable life. MCI came into my life and changed everything for the better. Without MCI, I could be in a fixed marriage without ever fulfilling my dream to become a nurse someday. I once thought I don't have any choice in life but to conform to what is expected of me especially in my culture. MCI brings me hope and teaches me to dream again and to pursue education. I find joy and fulfillment on my studies in Nursing. I look forward to the day I will become a Registered Nurse. I can't express how much MCI means in my life and how it changed me for the better.

" This cross-cultural student exchange program is a great opportunity for me to learn new knowledge, be trained in a high quality hospital and understand the culture of one of the great countries in the world. Aside from this, I'm staying with my host family who are very kind, caring and supportive. I hope to share what I'm learning here to my fellow students and especially to my community. I hope to help them understand the importance of education as an alternative to violence, struggle, and poverty."

-Solaica

Sarah Sultan Name: Sarah Sultan
Course: Bachelor of Science in Accountancy
Tribe: Maranao

"I never thought I have another choice in life besides following what my culture dictates me. I long thought I have to get in a fixed marriage to survive a hard life. I know life is tough but when MCI came into my life it truly opens doors for my dreams to come true. MCI paved the way for good changes to happen in my life. MCI provides the needed financial support for my studies. I never thought I can chose to go to school and become a Certified Public Accountant someday. I thought the scholarship was enough but then MCI also bless me with more such as meeting our benefactors face to face and knowing their kindness and support. Not only that, there are many things that has changed including how I see life. It really touches my heart. Words can not express how much MCI means in my life. My life would have been very different if I am not a MCI scholar.

I'm very proud to be chosen as a cultural exchange student of Minority Care International. It's an honor to be a part of MCI organization. As a MCI scholar, I'll continually bring the MCI principles and teachings wherever I am. I'll forever treasure this rare opportunity given to me."

-Sarah