My Summer with FJY
All we needed were a group of young people that needed training, a venue, and another group of people that could be our partners in executing our plans. After a few informal discussions, Bamba and I offered our ideas to a Salvatorian brother Clement, together with Brothers Damien, Stephen, Dominic, and Marlon are seminarians residing at the Father Jordan Formation House (FJFH) in Talon, Amadeo, Cavite, Philippines. They are in charge of the Father Jordan Youth (FJY), a group of young men and women from the community. To know more about this organization, please see www.FJY2008.webs.com .
I know that this group is already organized. Its members are very visible and are always acknowledged in many church activities. Once a month, during a Sunday mass, some of them serve as lectors, commentators, and others become part of the choir.
After that initial meeting with Bro. Clement, Bamba and I sat down again with the other brothers and the Rector, Fr. Hubert Kranz, SDS, to plan the training program for the FJY members. We plotted the schedule and the sessions, thought of some topics, and looked forward to the culmination in November. At the time this is written, the group is preparing for its anniversary on July 20. In the meantime, the training is put to a pause.
My close encounter with these young people happened when I taught the FJFH summer students this year. They volunteered to assist the teachers and the students. Two of them were assigned to me. Boyet, a very cheerful young man was there every morning. He participated in most activities to encourage the others. He sat down with the most misbehaved one. And he took that student to tour the compound when the misbehavior persisted. Very patient, indeed! Leah, a pretty, long-haired young lady knew the students more than I did! She assisted me in checking the attendance and she was my runner!
As these young men and women served during masses, I noticed that nervousness that perhaps is brought about by lack of confidence. But when they were with each other or with the children, they exuded the right doze of self-esteem and spontaneity. This is very typical of adolescents who knew that they belong and that they are accepted and appreciated as they are.
They are sharp to absorb and are very receptive of the ideas they come in contact with. I had a 5-minute session with them one afternoon to share some classroom energizers. The next day, they took the floor and taught the energizers to the students.
Their young bodies teem with energy. They always look for chances to be useful. When I requested them to conduct a simple survey, it took them less than half a day to gather all the data I needed. The survey was all about the reasons why the people of the community want to go to FJFH. Their respondents were the summer students and teachers and themselves. The FJY members came up with the funniest, naughtiest, and oh, so human responses! I was so pleased with the result of their survey that I presented it during the summer graduation. As they watched, they were in high spirits, they roared with contagious laughter and the air was filled with endless teasing. They volunteered to be the facilitators of the Kidz Camp, one of the summer culminating activities. After one session of events management with Bamba, most of them were more than ready to take over.
In all honesty, I underestimated the ability of these young people. I did not expect much from them. After all, they are very young and are of the rural folks (probinsyano and probinsyana). But I was wrong!!! Their youth, inexperience, and their lack of exposure were compensated by their willingness, enthusiasm, and exuberance.
Most of them exhibit raw talents waiting to be drawn out, harnessed, and put to good use. All they needed are opportunities to demonstrate what they have and what they are capable of doing. I was given several chances to observe these talents. One was during that summer graduation. They presented a dance number and mind you, they CAN dance! And they can dance well! Be it folk, be it contemporary. They honored Fr. Wilson Catabay, SDS, with ‘Tinikling’ and a Muslim number during his Thanksgiving Get-Together. They also presented an interpretation of a song.
Talents, endurance, limitless energy, perseverance, name it, they have it! But more than anything else, I was affected by their contagious enthusiasm to accomplish what they intended to do! They are full of life, they have an unbiased outlook towards the world and they are risk-takers. Camaraderie and amusement accompany all their tasks.
Working with this group reminds me of my youth. They give me possibilities that I could be forever young at least in my mind and my heart! And finally, I am proud to say that they are my people!
To the young men and women of FJY, my congratulations! To the Salvatorian Fathers and Brothers, my endless gratitude! Picture me holding a goblet of wine as I offer cheers for the July 20 celebration and for the FUTURE!
-Lerma dela Peña
Summer Class VolunteerTeacher