Thursday, April 18, 2024

AdvoComm kicks off F2F Bisaya workshop

By Allianah Junnice Bolotaulo and Paul Ray Donaire | February 22, 2024

Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Advocacy Committee (AdvoComm) held its first face-to-face 6200 Bisaya Workshop comprising three sessions. 

The workshop aims to teach non-Bisaya-speaking Sillimanians basic phrases and sentences, according to AdvoComm Co-Chairperson Angelique Kara Sorbito. 

The first session served as a consultation where participants asked what they wanted to learn in Bisaya, said AdvoComm Co-Chairperson Luke Timothy Burbano. However, it was launched virtually due to “unforeseen circumstances” on Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, in the second session held in person on Feb. 17, at the PEP room, Oriental Hall, Burbano said that the participants attended a lecture on constructing sentences in Bisaya. 

Sorbito added, “We had a lecture, a talk, and activities—a highlight was when each participant had to explain what they liked in Bisaya, alongside their tutor who aided them.”

Speakers for the workshop included Asst. Prof. Melita “Bing” Aguilar from the College of Mass Communication (CMC) and CMC Rep. Grylle Malala. Aguilar talked about the Cebuano language and its correct usage, while Malala discussed becoming a student leader as a non-native Bisaya speaker. 

The third and final session will be held in person at the same venue from 1 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 24. 

When asked why there were three sessions in the workshop, Sorbito explained that they wanted to use the entire month as it is hard to learn a language in a day. 

“That’s why we opted for three days. Once a week para we can retain the learnings,” she said.

Burbano added, “We want to utilize the last day to evaluate if the tutoring and the workbook provided were fit for their learning.” 

He further explained that the workshop is important since the university is a “melting pot of students from different provinces, cities, and countries.”

“It is vital that we learn the language that is predominantly used in Dumaguete as we go about mundane activities such as buying from stores or riding the pedicabs,” he said.

With 21 students attending the first session, Sorbito expected an increase throughout the rest of the sessions.

She further said that the succeeding sessions will be based on the outcomes of the consultation. 

“We will have speakers, and lecturers all the while getting to know each participant with activities that can strengthen their knowledge in Bisaya, like role-playing, group debriefing, and the like,” she said. 

Grade 11 student Kenshin Dybonco, one of the attendees from the United States, said that he joined the workshop in hopes of properly communicating with local residents. 

“I want to talk more to people that are here in Dumaguete like family and friends because, sometimes, even though they understand English, there definitely still is a language barrier,” he said.

He also said that the workshop has helped him understand Bisaya better despite his “slow start.” 

From a resolution to an actual program

Last year, the 32nd SUSG Student Assembly approved a resolution institutionalizing a Bisaya learning workshop “to aid non-Bisaya speaking Sillimanians through the SUSG AdvoComm.” 

The resolution stated that “not all Sillimanians have basic language skills or comprehension of the Bisaya language because their primary language is a non-Bisaya language.” 

Alexandra Tuale, former College of Business Administration representative and co-author of the resolution, gathered data through “a survey on the language stress and anxiety of non-Bisaya speaking Sillimanians.”

As a volunteer tutor for the 2021 Bisaya 101 initiative of AdvoComm held online, Tuale said she saw how much the lessons helped the students. 

“I saw firsthand how students struggled, and after, benefited from learning even just the basics, “ she said. 

The survey found that the students felt “disadvantaged” and experienced “feelings of loneliness and fear because of their lack of Bisaya skills.” 

Also, through the survey, the former representative found that the university needed more mainstream resources on the dialect. 

“All in all, I felt strongly about this and the data confirmed that there was a need for such a resolution,” Tuale said.

During the first semester of the school year 2022–-2023, the SU International Student Center logged 367 foreign college enrollees and 37 from the School of Basic Education.

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