DELEGATES from the University for Administration and Finance of Ludwigsburg, Germany recently visited the Philippines to learn more about local public governance and education in the country.
Facilitated by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Phils., a foundation committed to the values of social democracy, the study tour was hosted by the School of Diplomacy and Governance (SDG) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
To start their official immersion, SDG Dean Gary Ador Dionisio DPA guided them on a comprehensive campus tour. The dean likewise provided an overview of the diverse learning opportunities offered in the college: from mentorship under a roster of seasoned Philippine ambassadors in diplomatic posts abroad, to veteran public administrators and distinguished lawyers. They were also introduced to international exposures, such as student mobilities and Model United Nations.
Governance and Public Affairs (GPA) faculty member Atty. Gio Tingson walked them through the current Philippine political climate. Fellow professors Macel Fernandez and Shiela Mae Sabalburo invited them to observe their Project Management and Development and Public Policy and Development classes, where the guests earned insights on ways SDG students develop their understanding through lectures and interactions from each other.
“It was very enriching to see the efforts with which they train their young talents. Sustainability plays a major role, but also research,” the delegates shared.
They also noted that “there are many motivated students, and they were all interested in gaining new knowledge and broadening their perspective. It was an atmosphere of mutual respect [where good exchanges] developed. It is not just a frontal instruction, but there is an atmosphere of participatory learning.”
The German team likewise expressed that the Benildean “willingness to work in a practice-oriented, disciplined and proactive manner” was an aspect they wished to impart with their friends and classmates in Germany.
The foreign visitors, composed of professors Timo Jung and Franziska Katharina Freihart, as well as public management students Mareike Juliane Brenner, Lisa Sommer, Lara Eliza Wend and Alicia Karina Lesch, were welcomed with a special dinner and accommodation at the Hotel Benilde Maison de La Salle.
To further realize the dynamics of Philippine administration, the team traveled to Cavite and the City of Valenzuela. Respective public administrators and select department heads expounded on the demographics, challenges, and opportunities of the respective local government units, particularly within the context of the pandemic recovery phase.
They likewise visited the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, as well as the Museo ni Dr. Pio Valenzuela, and immersed themselves in the city’s rich history.
“It was interesting to see how a country with over 7,000 islands is governed,” the delegates expressed. “We have learned a lot about the political system and the interaction of the individual units.”
“[As first timers in the Philippines,] we were overwhelmed by the great hospitality,” they added. “This open and warm atmosphere accompanied us throughout the week, and we are very thankful for it.”