Long before I was financially stable, I always had this thought of helping and giving back to my community. I am one fortunate Filipino who was able to migrate to the US and land a stable, decent paying job. Driven by the childhood experience of not having enough resources, I always wanted to help the poor children in my town. I didn't know back then how to start fulfilling this dream until I was introduced by a friend to BKP.
Around year 2006, I started volunteering for the organization. In 2007, with BKP's help, I was able to provide assistance to my alma mater, Jose Timbal Elementary School to improve the school library. The school, located in Sta. Maria, Davao Occidental, had very little resources. BKP provided help by sending books and holding reading and literacy workshops for teachers. The school started to gain recognition and awards with improvements in overall proficiency scores. The success of Jose Timbal Elementary School prompted me to sponsor Heracleo Casco National High School with 1,400 more students.
My desire to expand my assistance to more children and even adults drove me to open a community library across my parents' house on February 5, 2017. The library is centrally located in the town. I am proud to say that at this point, with the help and support of my family, the library is now serving ages 3 to 85! My hope is to see more people browsing, reading, and borrowing the books that the hardworking BKP volunteers collect, sort, pack and ship to my library.
I encourage individuals to join and volunteer for this wonderful organization which I now call a second family. It is fun, enjoyable and very fulfilling.
A 2017 Update on the CodePhil Project
(Left to right) CodePhil team members from Columbia University: Bella Shim, Sang Jun Park, Sebastian Cueva Caro; Jiwon Park volunteering at our BKP back packing session.; Sang Jun Park, Jiwon Park and Amanda Wu at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in New York City.
The CodePhil Team is mainly comprised of Computer Science students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA and Columbia University in New York City with an objective to develop a scalable e-Curriculum within Philippine schools. The Team initially contacted BKP in February 2016 about partnering, with a focus on leveraging our BKP schools and related English literacy empowerment approach for students in the poorest provinces.
This was a logical fit with Northern Samar in the Eastern Visayas region given it is the 8th
poorest province. Also, the BKP Sponsor for N. Samar - John Snow is supporting a multi-year community functional English reading program in all Lavezares, N. Samar schools (28).
As such, he reached-out in March to the CodePhil leads and co-founders: Jiwon Park at MIT and her brother Sang Jun Park at Columbia. Key CodePhil partners besides our BKP, MIT, Columbia University and Lavezares local government unit (LGU), are the US Department of State and the National Commission for UNESCO. Thus, there is strong global perspective to potentially provide added value for our BKP mission.
John’s initial effort evolved into helping coordinate a 2016 CodePhil proof-of-concept, computer-coding project at Lavezares BBCMAIS High School (10th
graders) in August. John joined the Team and their onsite activities and unique networking opportunities, such as; the Team meeting with the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) President and College of Science staff. The meeting resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for partnering which included BKP; e.g., participation of UEP educational staffers at the next BKP reading methodology teachers training workshop.
The CodePhil Team also conducted a survey of BBCMAIS HS students drawing these insights from their multi-phased, 3-week coding project:
- 82.5% of students became more confident in using a computer and gained an initial understanding of computer programming,
- Students were now eager to learn more about website development and app building,
- Majority of the students now consider becoming IT teachers.
The CodePhil Team’s updated vision is to expand into more N. Samar schools; increase collaboration with UEP to include college students as mentors; collaborate with BKP and local Rotary Clubs to continue “grass roots” promotion and sustainment of their educational initiatives; understand key technology needs of regional employers, and inspire young people to tackle any problems they may face using creative solutions that include information and technology (IT) approaches.
As such, CodePhil’s proposed follow-up effort in N. Samar for August is a computer-typing program (TYPEPhil) for schools having functional e-Rooms. The project will use basic flash drives (no internet connectivity needed) with a companion language library for the N. Samar Wiray Wiray dialect. The library will be structured to accommodate other regional dialects when required. John’s objective in support of the CodePhil Team is to eventually identify synergistic relationships between English and Digital literacy for Philippine schools.
John Snow (right) with Kasite Ugo-Beke (CodePhil team member from MIT, leftmost) at the Marblehead Rotary Club last month. They presented on the programming / coding training in pilot schools in Lavezares, N. Samar. With them are Club President Ron Amon (2nd from left), and the Rotarian Host Mitch Wondolowski (3rd from left).