Sending relatives to high school and college in the Philippines. Central Philippine University. Our nieces Donnabel (L) and Lenie (R). They are dressed up and happy because they are leaving for a day out in the city — going by themselves to Iloilo City by jeepney.
When we told them that they’d be going to the city by themselves (about 25km) and that we’d give them fare and money for lunch in the city, they were so excited thinking about what they’d be able to order at McDonald’s with the money they had! We just mention this for the amusement of the parents raising blasé, world-weary teens in the U.S.
Donnabel has just been accepted at Central Philippine University (CPU), one of Iloilo’s better colleges. She’ll start classes in June. Lenie is starting classes as a sophomore (second year) at Tigbauan National High School which is quite close to our house. More on our experiences with CPU HERE
We’ve found the Tigbauan National High School to be good, so no need to send Lenie to a private school. Both girls come from difficult environments. We’re hoping that they’ll be able to benefit from opportunities in front of them. We’ll post more about our experiences as the school year gets under way.
Here’s something to think about. Many foreigners married into Filipino families want to help with the education of family members, usually nieces and nephews. We’d like to lift these kids out of what we may see as a bleak future, give them and education and send them on their way to a better future. The better future we have extolled to our nieces includes a college degree, a good job, a good spouse and a good life for their children and so forth.
Our efforts have focused on teenage nieces. These kids have grown up for more than a decade in a tough environment. They have spent ten years or more in lousy public schools, in a home with loving parents, but little exposure to books or learning, and surrounded by a culture where poverty, alcohol abuse, drugs, teen pregnancy,violence and prostitution are everyday affairs.
The kids may go along with our efforts because their parents desperately want a better life for their children and the kids have a chance to have more to eat and a better cellphone. However, they are poorly equipped to enter the world of educational achievement and personal advancement after thirteen or fourteen years in poor schools and life in squatter settlement. The “better life” we offer them can seem to them as boring, alien, incomprehensible, unachievable, and ultimately not a life they are equipped for or comfortable with.
We brought one niece to live with us. She was thirteen when she came. She was a fairly good student, but after two years and many problems she decided to return home. She wanted to finish her schooling there. However, in a few months she was pregnant by and moved in with her old boyfriend. She might not have as much to eat as she had with us (she gained quite a bit of weight!) but she was back in an environment she felt at home in.
Now we have two more nieces living with us. We want to help them, to give them a better life but we are not sanguine.
As noted above, we have enrolled one niece in a good university. She passed the entrance exam but I fear that it’s going to be a near-impossible task for her to succeed with the educational background, skills, habits and attitudes she has. I hope she proves me wrong!
Our advice is to not to try to impose your goals on Philippine family members. You may be fortunate to have a family member who really wants such help. Help them but don’t force help on those who really don’t want it.