Close encounter of the challenging kindBy Stephen Norries A. Padilla
It was a hot and dry Saturday afternoon but that did not stop thousands of young trainees from taking up challenges set for them while working side by side with people they had met for the first time.
Trainees of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centers coming from different parts of Luzon gathered at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City for daylong activities that aimed to deepen their awareness of belonging to the “great and large family of Don Bosco.”
The first-ever TVET Encounter had the theme “Buhay Busko, Bokasyon Ko!” Trainees from nine TVET Centers interacted through contests, games and performances.
The TVET Centers of Don Bosco Educational Apostolate address the need to improve the technical skills of underprivileged youth by providing partial scholarships to all trainees. Students undergo a 10-month classroom-based training and a five-month on-the-job training with industry partners.
Around 2,000 trainees eagerly joined the encounter designed to “foster an inter-institution camaraderie among TVET Centers, address the social growth and development of the trainees, showcase the trainees’ talents… and enhance the trainees’ self-esteem.”
They came from as far away as Legazpi City (Albay), Naga City (Camarines Sur), San Jose City (Nueva Ecija), Mabalacat City (Pampanga), Canlubang (Laguna) and the nearer training centers in Tondo (Manila), Mandaluyong City and Makati City.
For the different challenges, trainees were divided into 40 teams, each with 50 members. The teams were then grouped into four bigger clusters: John, Luke, Mark and Matthew.
For easy identification, each cluster was assigned a color and symbol: Blue Eagles for John, Yellow Bulls for Luke, Red Lions for Mark and Green Angels for Matthew.
Members of each team were randomly chosen from all participating TVET Centers.
To complete the game, a team must accept a challenge and win it. A sticker will then be awarded by the moderator after the team finishes a challenge. Teams must collect as many stickers as they can within two hours.
Challenges were scattered all over the campus, the difficulty level changing from one test to another. Trainees eagerly participated in relays, finished races, solved puzzles, played mini
sports, answered quizzes and joined many other contests to accumulate points for their respective clusters.
“Just relax, do not rush,” advised a team leader of the Green Angels, as they used pieces of white paper to try to transport a ping-pong ball from the first person to the next all the way down into a basket without touching it or letting it fall.
On the south side of the football field, an already wet member of the Red Lions urged his teammates to hurry as they passed backward water-filled punctured bottles from the faucet in front to the bucket in the back.
“We really put a lot of effort in all the challenges,” said Karen Britanico, who is taking up garments technology in the Naga TVET Center. “My teammates and I really get along well. We are united.”
Despite being total strangers to each other, TVET teams played together like longtime buddies.
“Everyone participated and followed our leader,” said Calody Dionisio, a fitter machinist in training from Mandaluyong City. “It seemed like we’d known each other for a long, long time. But, in reality, we only met today.”
The event left everyone tired but happy. The various activities also made the trainees realize they all had the “Bosconian blood” in them.
“This day is proof that we are all one in spirit… We are Bosconians,” said Fr. Onofre Inocencio Jr., SDB, Commission on Youth Ministry delegate for schools and TVET Centers.
He told the participants: “You have met and befriended each other. You are all brothers and sisters … Your deeds and your words are a sign of being a Bosconian.”
Fr. Vester Casaclang, SDB, assistant production manager of Don Bosco Press, was impressed by how the trainees gave their all to complete the afternoon game.
“If you fought this hard to win the challenges, how much more if it’s your future you are fighting for?” Casaclang said.
He presented them another challenge: “You must all graduate.”
The day ended with the Green Angels of Team Matthew emerging as overall winner with a total of 185 points. Second was the Red Lions of Team Mark with 177 points and third was the Yellow Bulls of Team Luke with 168 points.