Passion to Serve

Passion to Serve

Learning to Serve in this Knowledge Society
By Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, Vice President for Academic Affairs

(Message delivered during the  service-learning orientation for students from George Mason University on June 13, 2014.)

In the Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Prof. Graciela Chichilnisky of Columbia University wrote in 1998 about the Knowledge Revolution – defining knowledge as a public good where at the physical level, one can share it with others without losing it, a public good that is privately produced by each individual brain; where knowledge lends to the economics of scale associated with “learning by doing”!

Welcome to this opportunity to learn by doing at Silliman University!  And in this knowledge society that is today, congratulations on your choice of a venue in search of that  knowledge — here, in our community of “gentle people” where you are away from the hustle and bustle of urbanity; but yet near enough to keep you connected with what digital technology offers you on the global sphere.

Looking at you, my educated guess is that you belong to the demographic called the Millennial Generation – sometimes known as Generation Y, or even Generation We … where studies have revealed that although you are a generation of civic-minded individuals who have a strong sense of community both global and local, your generation has also been identified to beon the opposite end of the personality spectrum -with a high sense of entitlement, narcissistic, and who find comfort in shrugging off social conventions.

The recent global headline from the US then, “School Shootings Now the Norm?” is not only alarming to us here on the other side of the globe – not only because technology has given us an unprecedented level of information explosion; but also because, as members of the “Trophy Generation”, your age group finds mere participation in a trend, a significant and meaningful reward in itself. And service learning is one such trend!

In this age of fast changing iPhones, society gets surrounded everywhere by the trappings of “packaging”, the attention to external details that specially abound among millennials like you!  As a philosophy of life and living, such packaging has also been affirmed by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Program and the UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute that found an increasing number of students who have embraced wealth as very important to their well-being.

American management guru, Peter Ferdinand Drucker, may have drawn for us in 1959 the boundaries of knowledge work in this Knowledge Society; Prof. Chichilnisky of Columbia University in 1998 went farther by defining for us what the Knowledge Revolution is.  But today, here in Dumaguete City, you are stretching that Knowledge Revolution by coming to us insearch of knowledge about serving others – from a different culture of a developed country to the Philippines, still a developing one!

As the next few days unfold for each one of you, your ability to discern between learning to serve and serving to learn will truly be put to the test!

May your newly acquired knowledge in service learning or in learning to serve make your service more compassionate in the years to come without compromising your passion to serve!