OUR world seems to be changing at a rate that is too fast for the average person to keep up with. It’s a good interesting life that most foreigners had survived living in a foreign country like the Philippines .In Baguio city alone ,foreign students flock in the universities .With more intensive commitment to stay in a foreign land sacrificing more time, money and energy ,it is worthwhile to know that most of these foreign students had overcome all challenges and struggles they experienced as the saying goes “Time and place is no barrier to learning.”

It’s a privilege to have attended the graduation celebration of the Baguio International Students Organization held March 16, 2013 at Hotel Supreme. It’s a learning experience getting to know other people’s culture, belief and practices. The event was organized by Nabil Saeed one of the graduating students who hails from Sudan. Baguio International Students Organization comprises a group of foreign students from Ethiopia, Somalia Eritrea, Sudan, Palestine, Jerusalem, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

The officers are: president, Hussein Abdalla–Somalia; vice–president, Feseha Akele-American; secretary, Tecle Yodit–Eritrea; treasurer, Wael Ibrahim–Sudan; auditor, Omar Sheikh–Ethiopia; sports, Ahmed Jadori-Yemen; and P.R.O, Aymen Abdullah-Sudan.

The program started with an opening prayer from the Quran, followed by inspirational messages from the guest speaker, graduating speaker, family and friends. One of the night’s exotic presentations was the showcase of the traditional songs and dances of foreign students representing their own countries.

I was stunned watching their dances and listening to the strange tone of the gongs as they sang their songs in their native language. I curiously asked one foreign student, Muhamad Mseh from Eritrea, he said, their dances have a story; it’s about life, marriage and their history. Parents and relatives of the graduating students travelled all the way to Baguio just to attend the graduating ceremony. Instructors from the University of the Cordilleras were present in the occasion.

Atty. Benny Bomogao, the guest speaker, inspired the foreign students by giving solutions to possible difficult situations they might encounter while staying in a foreign land. He spoke of the several problems they might face in a foreign country. He said, “There are many reasons why people come to a foreign country. It’s either to look for job opportunities, to take a vacation, to visit relatives and friends, or among the young ones to get a higher education in more qualified universities.”

“There are several difficulties a foreign student may encounter. It is difficult if you do not know how to speak the language in that country. Most foreign students have difficulty adjusting for academic purposes. Accommodation, food and getting used of the new environment can be a big problem. It’s difficult adjusting to its laws, the people, their customs and beliefs, their culture,” he added.

Socialization is another problem. Culture shock is a phenomenon involving an emotional disorientation that a person suffers when he moves to a foreign land. This leads to abrupt loss of the familiar, resulting to a loss of identity and feelings of isolation.

In order to survived, Bomogao said, “A foreigner must learn by heart to know and speak the language of that foreign land they chose to stay. Improve your interpersonal relationships by being alert, assess your strengths and weaknesses and be persistent in approaching and solving problems. Be observant, adapt to the new environment, be keen, stay with someone you are familiar with, always keep in touch with your families and form your own organization.” Lastly, Bomogao advised these foreign students to get help and approach school offices that offer a broad range of services beyond the primary function of providing information concerning their needs coordinating their academic and financial matters.

I do believe that forming this Baguio International Foreign Organization will help foreign students adjust to their situations because age, sex, color, creed, ethnic background, or economic status, must not be barriers to the opportunity to grow through participation in clubs, organizations and learning activities. We can then choose how to live and how to be in a foreign land by facing and defeating all the frustrations, fear and problems and change it to magic, amazement and joy.

I encourage all foreign students to continue their education with determination for a new quality of life in the future amidst difficulties and adversities met. Your stay and success in a foreign land is truly an important highlight of a lifetime. So cope and live, urge to seek more in life and to shape a larger self.