Wisdom in S-L
Wisdom in SL: Knowledge with Responsibility
By: Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, Vice President for Academic Affairs
(Opening remarks delivered during the culmination of the service-learning program of Ferris University in Silliman University on September 12, 2014.)
One of the great thinkers of contemporary times, the late Dr. Stephen Covey, pointed out to us that responsibility comes from two words, response and ability. Responsibility then is our ability to respond!
Today, after five days of testing your ability to respond, what learning insights have you now earned to make you a certified service learner? From a culture vastly different from your own, I am sure that rendering service while learning has not been a piece of cake for each one of you – who come from a different cultural perspective, . . . uprooted from your own natural and informational comfort zones. For the last five days, your minds have been on overdrive, with your waking moments working in S-L spent on processing knowledge . . . from information . . .to data. Congratulations!
Do I now hear a collective sigh? Or a collective joy? Whatever that is, let us give each one a warm round of applause!
In this your culmination program this morning, let us also make a journey back about your S-L experience from another Covey framework, our framework of wisdom in SL. Dr. Covey writes in his 1990 bestseller, The 7 Habits of Effective People, where he describes ‘wisdom’ as “your perspective in life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other”. Moreover, the Covey Wisdom Framework “embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension . . . a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness”.
With just a few days, each one of you has had a dizzying SL journey in the various communities you were with. Today, it is time to process what you have learned – at “your understanding of how various parts and principles apply and see how they relate to each other”. Only then can you truly be “an integral whole” again.
From SL data . . . to information . . . to knowledge, what now is your perspective on life? On SL in an Asian context . . . in communities around Dumaguete, the city where simplicity and serenity breathe into your soul to savor the solemnity of your experiences? Because once you leave the portals of Silliman University, once you leave this campus by the sea, you get confronted once more with the reality of technology’s avalanche of knowledge – you get sucked into a distorted processing of knowledge . . . from information to data.
On a daily basis, the news about violence, or. the destruction of one’s personal integrity attest to the lack of learning, the absence of connectivity between knowledge and applying that knowledge –whether in classrooms or in communities where many opportunities to learn present themselves.
How then does a service learner like you use knowledge with accountability? Alfred Bernhard Nobel invented the dynamite; but he also established the Annual International Nobel Prizes to promote peace – among many other soul-searching but otherwise laudable objectives.
As you move forward in SL, how do you use your knowledge with responsibility and continue to accumulate, assimilate, and process knowledge with accountability?
Let me leave you with this thought from the longtime rector of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Anthony Dalla Villa, who, in his 1987 memorial for pop artist, Andy Warhol, said: What you are/Is God’s gift to you; What you make of it/Is your gift to God.
Knowing that knowledge is renewable and changing, we wish you all the best as you journey back to your campus at Ferris University.