When I landed in Manila, Philippines back in July 2019, I felt as if my heart would burst, both from excitement and nervousness. For the first time I went out of my country that is so alien to me that everywhere I looked, things looked new, vibrant and intimidating all at the same time. The minute my feet touched the ground I knew that a new journey has started. It has been almost two years since my arrival and how I wish I could say that I have finally adjusted to the life and ways of Manila. I still have my share of struggles and challenges; however, I am blessed to have a community that serves as my support system. I am currently living in Our Lady of Assumption Scholasticate (OLAS) in Quezon City-Metro, Manila. It is a Community of religious and seminarians-Oblates from different parts of the globe. There were brothers from Kingdom of Lesotho, Cameroon, Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Congo and the Philippines itself. You can just imagine the big gap in terms of language, beliefs, tradition, values and culture. One would presume that some differences among members would create friction and factions. On the contrary, I feel very grateful for the opportunity to have had an intercultural experience. I get to learn and appreciate my brothers individually and collectively. My interaction with each of them gave me a broader perspective in terms of how they practise and profess their faith. As a group, as a country, I learn to respect their views and opinions. When COVID-19 struck and all school activities were concerned about the safety of each student’s home, I struggled with the online learning.
It was something new to me and I found the web tools difficult to handle, manage and use. Eventually, I was able to cope and online classes proved to be easy. Though I must admit, I still prefer face to face classes where I can actually see and interact with other students in a personal way. The structure and method of formation here in Manila is also different from what I have been accustomed to in Sri Lanka. I cannot say that it is stricter rather it is liberating in the sense that it allows and guides me to develop self-direction, self-awareness and it pushes me to think out of the box. I am living neither an easy nor a perfect life. But I value the opportunities, experiences and lesson I get from these realities in my life.
Sc. Raja Jenistan, OMI
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