One of the craziest thing being an American student in the Philippines is how under educated I am. Now this is a bit of a generalization but overall America does not put as much of an emphasis on learning other languages as most of the rest of the world. Even here, at GK Enchanted Farm, where quote on quote “the poorest of the poor” live; they know at least two languages. I know one, and maybe like a half. But there are students younger than me who speak three: English, French, and Tagalong.
We arrived Sunday morning at Gawan Kalinga Enchanted Farm and were quickly rushed into the graduation ceremony happening for the new SEED graduates. Because while being a village of people, a farm that produces food and animals, GK is also a university. Although not exactly a conventional one. Here at GK they have the SEED Philippines program, or School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development. Students receive a college education in social entrepreneurialism in the hopes that they will bring themselves and their community out of poverty.
Now all of this seems a little bit out there. I admit I’m still skeptical because there just isn’t a concrete track record of success yet. Mostly that’s because SEED is only three years old. But listening to the two class speakers, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. These students know anywhere upwards of two languages and have already laid the ground work for their own entrepreneurial enterprises. Granted, there’s still a ton of work to be done. They’ve just barely entered into the world of business and their enterprises are nowhere near being sustainable. But if nothing else, the experience has given these students the confidence to be responsible. As one of the graduates said, “We’ve learned that we deserve to be rich too”. And I hope they do.