APC celebrates school year-end: Preparing the Pulangiyēn youth for engagement in the world

Sustaining and strengthening the Pulangiyēn identity – Datu Menaling contemplates with joy the young graduates as he shares their sense of accomplishment for completing another school year. Elders hold important knowledge of the gaup, about traditional practices, customs, and beliefs. Passing down this knowledge to younger generations ensures that cultural traditions and practices are not lost over time.

The Pulangiyēn youth have a deep-rooted relationship with their gaup, forests, and traditional farming and forest management practices. However, these practices and the culture constantly face challenges due to the pressures of modernization and globalization. These pressures include rapid deforestation, the conversion of forestland into monoculture plantations, mining activities, and the imposition of Western standards in education and values. All these changes threaten the indigenous way of life and their sustainable relationship with the land.

In this context, the APC provides an alternative approach to learning and education that uses and leverages local culture to teach concepts by providing the learner with the context, integrating cultural crafts, traditional knowledge, and practices in the curriculum.

Over the years, the youth have gained greater self-awareness to sustain the integral relations within the gaup, promote intergenerational learning, feel more connected to their community, and take pride in their cultural identity. Most importantly, the youth feel more empowered to take an active role in community leadership.

A celebration of life in the forest – Filled with hopes and dreams for themselves, their community, and gaup, young graduates at APC gather with teachers and guests onstage to mark a significant milestone in their lives as a testament to their hard work and dedication.

The APC graduation event is a celebration of life in the forest and of making memories that will last a lifetime. The younger generation is learning more about their culture at APC, with a curriculum that uses the mother tongue as the first language to build foundational language skills, learn new concepts, and develop communication skills. Kindergarten through sixth-grade students are already studying concepts of land allocation and land use practices. Older students grasp and learn about the realities of land productivity, trade, and livelihood.

Resilience and adaptability of the youth – Individual and group reflection foster self-awareness and empower youth as they navigate life’s many learning experiences. It is essential to support and acknowledge the resilience and adaptability of Indigenous youth to engage in the world and face the pressures of changing landscapes.

As the school year ends, APC holds recollection activities to help the youth prepare for engaging in the world as adults. Personal reflection and group recollection have much to do with preparing them for engaging in the world as students or in productive livelihoods contributing to the vision of the community. The recollection activity is done in Balay Laudato Si’ as part of APC’s program of action. This activity involves a deeper level of engagement with the broader reality that acknowledges the material with deeply relational and spiritual aspects of life.

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