Osmosis or the process of gradual learning is a beautiful space for Indigenous youth to open up and give depth on sharing their personal narratives through informal and non-formal ways. Thirty-nine Indigenous youth from different villages who lived with sixteen host families in Kalamagan, Malita, Philippines were able to learn through their participation in various community actions.
The community immersion motivated the youth to engage in this process of learning because it gave them the pathway to understand and appreciate their own culture and emphasized the importance of familial and communal values of the tribe.
The young people of the Tagakolu tribe encountered these values as they lived with their host families in Kalamagan. What they witnessed challenged their own understanding of being a Tagakolu. Most of them observed that families in Kalamagan received them with much kindness and welcomed them as “one of their own". There was hospitality, respect and love for one another.
Through this kind of space, the youth understood at a deeper level how beautiful and gifted they are as a tribe. To them, being a Tagakolu, they have so much more to give and appreciate for there is beauty and goodness bestowed to them by their parents, families, relatives and elders.
Being with their host families provided many other lessons. Monella, a youth from Kalatagan who is part of "Ubun na Kettal" (Indigenous Youth Leaders), recounted a time when the family offered a prayer during mealtime. She discovered that her foster mother and father were members of different churches. Seeing the harmonious relationship between the couple despite their differences, she learned that: “Respect of one’s expression of religious belief is a big thing... That’s why I learned to respect others because people must live harmoniously and full of love for each other.”
The immersion was filled with transformative moments for the youth leaders because they were able to freely learn from each other. There is gladness in our hearts seeing the youth now able to open up and acknowledge that “Ubun na Kettal” is a safe space to share, to be their own selves, and to live out their identity.
Monella, far right, with her host family having a picnic by the river.