Ateneo Alumni International Convention in Sydney highlights connecting with the community and building relationships
by Maureen Santiago
WE DID IT!!! It took a year of planning, influencing, inviting, soliciting and campaigning to hold the Ateneo International Convention in Sydney, Australia. We had to get as much support as we can from the alumni, speakers, sponsors, advertisers, performers and friends so we can make this project happen. At first, it seemed impossible but with a team of hardworking and decisive community leaders – everything falls into place.
The Ateneo Alumni Association of Australia (AAAA) held its First Alumni International Convention from 25-27 October 2019 at the Pullman Hyde Park Hotel, Sydney to continue building relationships among its alumni and the local community and to help support the AAAA Scholarship Program.
The event was highlighted by a Saturday Gala Dinner where Philippine Consul General in Sydney Ezzedin Tago spoke and complimented the commitment of the Alumni Association in promoting goodwill among the Filipino-Australian community in Sydney and providing financial assistance to deserving students in various Jesuit schools and universities in the Philippines. Kristine Joy Evangelio, one of the AAAA scholars, has recently graduated from the Ateneo de Naga University.
The Meet and Greet session on the first day allowed delegates to acquaint with many of the participants and delegates from overseas and interstate. The second day put the spotlight on speakers from the leaders of Jesuit schools in the Philippines. Fr. Jett Villarin SJ who is the President of the Ateneo de Manila talked on the history of Ateneo and the University’s plan for the future. Fr. Karel San Juan SJ. the President of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University dwelt on the current state of affairs in Zamboanga and how peace can be achieved by having Christians and non-Christians study in the same school and learn from each other.
Fr. Bogs Tapiador SJ, President of Loyola College of Cullion in Palawan amazed many with the news that Cullion which used to be a leper colony is now a leading Jesuit school in Palawan. For his part, Fr. Kit San Juan, SJ, Director of Alumni Affairs of the Ateneo de Manila explained how the Office of the Alumni Relations ensure that all alumni are informed of the current university events including information and updates on the alumni database.
The Sydney business community were also represented by Dr Frank Alafaci, President, Australian Business Summit Council, Atty Mark Jeffrey Abalos of No Borders Migration Agents and Kevin Beck, CEO Pacific Accounting Solutions. Dr Frank Alafaci talked about the important economic details of Australia whilst Mr Mark Abalos briefed the participants about the different visas available for those who want to work and stay in Australia. Mr Kevin Beck, the last speaker talked about doing business in the Philippines from an Australian perspective.
At the Gala Night, speakers and guests were acknowledged with a number granted awards and certificates. The convention was capped by a convention cruise at the Sydney Harbour. The AAAA President Mike Alvarez gave a very appropriate concluding remark thanking among others, participants and guests. Fr. Jett delivered his farewell speech to the different Ateneo schools in the Philippines, encouraging everyone to come home to the Philippines as well as be inspired of the spirit of Ignatius de Loyola.
We are hoping and praying that this is just indeed the beginning. We will be very grateful to receive your continued support. We still have a number of activities lined up as we strive to raise more funds for our scholars and to make our association vibrant. Should you want to contribute or help in whatever way you can, please feel free to talk to us and we are happy to collaborate with you.
Please remember too that we are all just trying to be men and women for others through community service. We are fortunate to have the Ateneo Alumni Association to serve as the platform where we can provide our services. We do this voluntarily and work in harmony with people who share the same vision. It is all about service, sharing your blessings to the less fortunate ones through our scholarship fund and making the organization vibrant to encourage more participants to serve.