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Press Release

27 June 2020

PH Consulate in New York Launches Virtual Paaralan sa Konsulado

Philippine Consul General Claro S. Cristobal (top left most) with some of the AFTA volunteer teachersand 22nd PSK students during the online opening ceremony of the PSK.

27 June 2020, New York –The Philippine Consulate General in New York, in partnership with the Association of Filipino-American Teachers in America, Inc. (AFTA), launched online its 22nd Paaralan sa Konsulado (PSK) with the theme “Mga Batang Pinoy Maalam Sa Panahon ng Pandemya” on Saturday, 27 June 2020, via the Consulate’s Facebook page.

The PSK is an annual summer workshop for Filipino and Filipino-American children between the ages of 5 and 15, which aims to provide children born and raised in the USA opportunities to learn about their Filipino culture and heritage. It will run for five Saturdays, starting 27 June 2020 up to 1 August 2020 (except July 4) from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, with participants learning about Filipino values, heritage, history, art, songs, dances, games, traditions, and conversational Filipino.

This year, for the first time in the history of PSK, classes will be held through remote learning using the platforms Google Classroom and Zoom, with some portions of the sessions being streamed live on Facebook so that the larger Fil-Am community can participate.

During the opening ceremony, Consul General Claro S. Cristobal expressed optimism that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the technological challenges, the Consulate and the AFTA “will not be fazed by these challenges but will be able to beat them and find ourselves growing stronger and achieving much higher goals.”  The Consul General was pleased that students from other States are now able to join the online PSK sessions.

This year’s PSK has reached far more participants coming not just from the US northeast, but as far as California, Florida, and Maryland. Ninety-four (94) young Filipino-American students have registered, 80% of them are new students while 20% are returning students.

In welcoming the new batch of PSK students during the opening ceremony, Consul Arman R. Talbo said that it was initially a challenge for the Consulate team and AFTA teachers to transition the classes and lessons online, but after a series of coordination and with the resourcefulness of the teacher-volunteers drawing from their actual experiences from teaching in US schools, the first PSK virtual classroom is now a reality.

AFTA President Marcelo Inot presented the AFTA teachers who have volunteered to teach during the 22nd PSK, while PSK 2020 Principal Dara Valconcha delineated expectations for PSK students’ online behavior. PSK 2020 Assistant Principal Rena Pedaria led the students in a karaoke-style community singing of the song “Isang Mundo, Isang Awit.” AFTA teacher Ramil Buenaventura served as the master of ceremonies during the day.

The opening ceremony was capped off by an inspirational talk and performance by Shane Selloria, a Fil-Am child actor, singer and self-taught ventriloquist who will play young Simba in the upcoming Broadway show “The Lion King.”

During the breakout sessions, the Fil-Am kids had the opportunity to learn conversational Filipino, the national symbols of the Philippines, and Filipino values, customs and traditions from AFTA teachers Cheruby Inot, Dr. Roxanne Cajigas, and Ms. Josette Baraquia, respectively.

The next session of PSK is scheduled on Saturday, 11 July 2020, where kids will get to learn about modern Filipino heroes, Dr. Jose Rizal, Filipino folk dances and games, including a special topic on how to keep the children safe while they are online.– END