The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” In today's world, more and more people are turning to volunteerism as a way of living. In line with the celebration of International Volunteer Day, the American Corner, Cagayan de Oro, Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan and the office of Cagayan de Oro City Vice Mayor Jocelyn 'Bebot' B. Rodriguez, collaborated for a clean-up drive at Agutayan Island, Jasaan, Misamis Oriental on February 17, 2023. The initiative was spearheaded by Ms. Estella Cabudoy, coordinator of American Corner - CDO with Mr. Roderico Dumaug, Jr. coordinator of American Corner and Instructor of Xavier University. This activity is a way to connect the university, the local government unit and the community—in unison to manifest their commitment to environmental preservation. Agutayan Island is a 25 to 30-minute travel from the coast of mainland Jasaan. Upon setting foot on the island, participants started collecting waste, especially plastics which are detrimental to the environment. The collected wastes were brought back to the mainland and were disposed of properly. After the clean-up drive, participants went to Xavier Xavier University Marine Station for a short program. Ms. Estella Cabudoy delivered the welcome remarks. Igniting the participants' spirit of volunteerism, two guest speakers shared their knowledge and their life experiences on volunteerism. Ms. Eliza Mae Lagbas, an alumna of Xavier University, and an active member of the civic organization, namely the Rotary Club of West CDO, shared how her journey as a volunteer started, from a National Service Training Program Trainee until she became to full-fledged volunteer in her own way. She started her own foundation which visits small communities, giving gifts, conducting feeding programs and sharing her blessings with recipients. According to her, it’s heartwarming how a little help can touch lives and put a smile on their faces. That even a little help can mean so much more. Moreover, Mr. James Ambat, a student leader at Xavier University and an active volunteer, talked about his experience as a participant in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. During his stay in Vietnam, where he was exposed—he saw a lot of eye-opening situations and learned from them. At the end of his talk, he encouraged everyone to participate and take part in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative programs and projects. At the end of the program, as closing words, Mr. Roderico Dumaug, Jr. encouraged everyone to join and participate in any volunteer work, as it is not only helping the community, but also to develop one's skills and knowledge in volunteering activities.
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