DESPITE travel restrictions posed by the pandemic, the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia has tied up with the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) to pursue a shared mission through joint teaching, research, as well student and staff mobility program.
The two institutions, partners since 2017, organized a Virtual Student Mobility Engagement Program that provided an exchange between the DLS-CSB School of Diplomacy and Governance (SDG) Consular and Diplomatic Affairs and UGM International Relations students. This gave an opportunity for their students to officially attend online classes for the first term of Academic Year 2021 to 2022.
UGM representative Yovadila Yozie Syamsubar, who minors in Global Politics and Security, took up a total of eight courses in the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs Program, as she continued her research interests in social subjects such as race, sexuality and gender. She studied International Relations, Introduction to Political Geography, Issues in International Security, Selected Readings in Philippine History, Western Civilization, History of Eastern Civilizations, World Geography and Seminar-Workshop on Tools of Gender Mainstreaming.
“I truly appreciated Benilde’s inclusive environment,” Syamsubar shared. “Other than being Indonesian, I am also a Muslim. Hence, there was a great worry that mingling would be a bit challenging. In the end, I was proven wrong.”
“Studying in Benilde enriched my insights and appreciation about a country other than my own,” she added. “My professor in Selected Readings in Philippine History acknowledged that I had little to no background on the subject, and even offered to do a one-on-one session instead. This situation really showed that the people I encountered in Benilde were all very kind and considerate.”
The initiative likewise allowed Benildeans to complete several courses under UGM’s Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. They attended lectures on International Humanitarian Law, Conflict Analysis and Transformation, Humanitarian Actions, Violence in World Politics, Political Economy of Globalization, Political Corruption in a Global Context, Political Economy of Development, and Global Social Movements.
DLS-CSB delegate Aieshah Koleene Balmori likewise shared the way UGM’s accommodation was to Benildeans: “We had a buddy system with their international-students network, and the faculty has been helping us adjust to their environment.”
“As someone who wishes to be a diplomat, this is an incredible opportunity for me to learn another country’s culture and system,” Balmori stated. “I’ve not only acquired valuable knowledge in [global] relations, but I also gained new skills on diplomacy, and helped me improve on my adaptability and critical thinking skills.”