As a commitment to futureproofing Southeast Asian learners to be influential catalysts of agri innovation in this time of the pandemic, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) partners once again with the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (UPLB-OVCRE) for a Basic English Training for SEARCA scholars held from 19 July 2021 to 9 August 2021 via Zoom and Google Classroom.
The customized trainings aim to give scholars the necessary skills that would assist them in accomplishing their course requirements, navigating their graduate studies, and prepare them to become future leaders and professionals upon their graduation.
Moreover, the annual English course offered by the Center to new and ongoing scholars is a commitment to its mandate in building the capacity of future agriculture leaders and professionals. The course is designed to enhance their language proficiency, prepare them for their graduate studies, and encourage them to be more comfortable with the English language.
Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, SEARCA Program Head for Education and Collective Learning Department (ECLD), stressed out the importance of language and communication during COVID-19. She also underscored that SEARCA scholars are the Center’s ambassadors of goodwill.
“In this era of globalization, even during the time of the pandemic, we engage with colleagues, friends, and other partners from various countries. We connect to each other using the English language. And as SEARCA scholars, you become our ambassadors of goodwill to your institutions, respective countries, and study posts. You carry the name of SEARCA, and we would like you to attain that level of English proficiency according to our set standards,” said Dr. Cuaresma.
It is also SEARCA’s first time to engage with the UPLB-College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Language Instruction Towards Excellence (LITE) Program lecturers through UPLB-OVCRE for this engagement.
In her opening message, Dr. Maribel L. Dionisio-Sese, UPLB-CAS Dean and LITE Program Manager, expressed her gratitude to SEARCA for entrusting them the enrichment of its scholars.
“The LITE Program has served the English language enhancement needs of over a thousand undergraduate and graduate international students for more than 20 years. We sincerely appreciate the confidence bestowed by SEARCA in entrusting to our Program the enrichment of its scholars’ basic English proficiency, especially under the current challenging conditions brought about by the continuing pandemic. We thank the UPLB-OVCRE for going out of its way to facilitate this project as we look forward to broader partnerships in harnessing the arts and sciences for agricultural research and development in Southeast Asia,” Dr. Sese told the participants during the opening program of the Basic English Course.
The CAS Dean also assured that the LITE Program has heeded the call of the changing learning paradigms in a virtual classroom setup.
She added, “the Program has redesigned its Basic English Training to make it effectively and efficiently responsive to the present circumstances where physical face-to-face learning is not possible. However, it remains essentially face-to-face, although virtually. The methods have changed but the learning objectives remain the same. Nevertheless, certain readjustments from both scholars and tutors will be called for.”
The LITE Program is an extension arm of UPLB-CAS for delivering English language training to international students and exposure to Philippine heritage and culture. Since 1996, the LITE Program has served in the forefront of UPLB’s bid for globalization, contributing toward internationalization of undergraduate and graduate education for international students from ASEAN countries and beyond.
Echoing the words of Dr. Cuaresma and Dr. Sese, SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, welcomed the new SEARCA scholars and extended his gratitude to UPLB-OVCRE.
“We would like to thank UPLB-OVCRE led by Vice Chancellor Merdelyn C. Lit. Thank you for always being one with SEARCA and supporting our activities and programs on research, extension and expertise, most especially delegating service providers and experts for our SEARCA scholars,” Dr. Gregorio said.
The SEARCA Director concluded that SEARCA values this continuous engagement with UPLB.
“We are happy that this prosperous engagement will lead us to better, bigger, and smarter outcomes that is timely and relevant as a step closer to futureproof our SEARCA scholars in their own personal and professional growth,” told by Dr. Gregorio to the SEARCA scholars and staff, and to the UPLB delegation.
Representatives from UPLB comprise Ms. Ruth M. Almario, Development Management Officer III of OVCRE; Dr. Sese; Assistant Professor Kristine K. Adalla, LITE Program Coordinator; and LITE tutors Assistant Professor Jerard Ancel D. Eusebio, LITE Program Assistant Coordinator for Special Projects; Dr. Mabini DG. Dizon, Former LITE Program Coordinator; and Assistant Professor Elizabeth S. Krueger.
Joining Dr. Gregorio and Dr. Cuaresma were Ms. Beatrisa L. Martinez, Executive Coordinator; and Mr. Nathan P. Felix, Senior Public Relations Associate, both from the Office of the Director; Dr. Nova A. Ramos, Unit Head, and Ms. Rosario B. Bantayan and Ms. Jean Rebecca D. Labios, Program Specialists, all of ECLD-Training for Development Unit (T4DU); Ms. Zacyl R. Jalotlot and Ms. Paula Grace M. Muyco, Program Specialists, and Ms. Blessie P. Saez, Senior Program Associate, all of ECLD-Graduate Scholarship and Institutional Development (GSID); and Mr. Jaymark Warren T. Dia, Unit Head, Ms. Alicia D. Revilla, Information Technology Support Specialist; Mr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, Jr., Management Information Systems Specialist; Mr. John Kenneth T. Abella, Senior Information Technology Support Associate; and Mr. Renz B. Tabadero, Senior Management Information Systems Associate, all of the Management Information Systems Unit (MISU).