[Delivered during the pre-departure meeting at the EU Delegation of the Philippines, RCBC Tower 2, Makati City, July 30, 2009]
Your Excellency, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Thelma Gecolea (Public Affairs Officer of the delegation), Ms. Jill Lopez, EMA Country Representative, Fellow Erasmus Mundus Scholars, Ladies and Gentlemen—good afternoon. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to participate in this important event that recognizes the achievements of Filipinos for successfully competing in the most prestigious Erasmus Mundus Mobility Programme.
Indeed, the selection of students from third countries to join the programme was not that easy considering the high academic requirements including mastery/fluency of the English language and for some scholars—fluency in other European languages and also this is a competition taking into account the diversity of applicants from countries all over the world. So, what are our chances of being selected? The probability of being selected in the program is too slim. Despite of this, we are still fortunate that we have been selected as Erasmus Mundus scholars.
Erasmus Mundus is an interesting and relevant initiative of the European Union, responding to the challenges of higher education in Europe aiming at contributing positively to global development and of making Europe the most attractive region for higher education in the world. The creation of a European area for higher education and research and the globalization of higher education, have made it important to facilitate the access of students from third countries (including Philippines) to higher education in Europe.
There are several reasons why we applied for the scholarship programme; we have our own stories to tell too. Personally, continuing professional education in library and information science has always been one of the main ways leading to the realization of my academic and career goals. It has always been an integral part of my life because education plays a central role in innovation and economic growth as well as societal development. The opportunity to help people was not only a future job for all of us Erasmus Mundus scholars but it is our calling to be of service to humanity…to the Filipino people in particular. This is also the point in my life when I truly realize who I want to become and what I have to do to achieve it. I realize that as information professional I do have a social responsibility towards the practice of my profession and to the society in general.
Ever since, I have been aspiring to study abroad particularly in Europe and I am greatly fascinated with its colourful history and contributions to world culture and development. October 2008 when I applied for the International Master in DILL and 3 days after I got an e-mail telling me to submit all the needed documentation. April 21, 2009, another e-mail from DILL administration, notifying me that I was selected as one of the Erasmus Mundus Scholars in International Master in Digital Library Learning jointly offered by Oslo University College (Norway), Tallin University (Estonia), and Parma University (Italy). At first, I can not believe it and then I realized that this is God’s answer to one of my prayers. On the other hand, I felt very sad because I will be leaving my family, my work and most importantly my responsibility as Regional President of the Philippine Librarians association, Inc.-Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council (PLAI-STRLC). But, I have to accept this and if not it would be a lost of opportunity for our country, the Philippines .
Moreover, I felt proud that of the 22,000 applicants from 166 countries a handful Filipinos has been selected to study in Europe . This is a rare privilege, as well as a responsibility. As Pinoy Erasmus Mundus scholars, we have also the responsibility to represent our country as its cultural ambassadors to European Union. There are a lot of challenges that awaits us when we come back here in our country.
At this point, I also would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you my fellow Erasmus Mundus scholars, Congratulations Kababayan! To the governing body of the European Union thru the Delegation, thank you for giving us the opportunity to take part on this wonderful and prestigious Erasmus Mundus Mobility Programme.
Indeed, the programme would greatly help us Filipinos in developing our potentials as professionals, provide us opportunities of learning new skills or gain insights on our chosen field of specialization and have a better understanding on our role in today’s global society. More so, we need such training in order to materialize our professional goals of not only learning new technology but be able to transfer whatever technology that we will be learning from Europe to our home country, the Philippines.
Marcial R. Batiancila
Incoming Student in International Master in Digital Library Learning, 2009-2011