by Franklin A. Colasito, Holy Virgin of Salvacion School Inc. Faculty Member:

There, she stood before us at the Arrival Area, Tacloban DZR Airport sometime in July 2018. Tall and statuesque, this 16-years old Italian girl CHRISTINE ESMERALDINO, stood in her blue denim jacket, her long tresses hanging loosely down, her cheerful eyes as her pinkish lips pursued into a gentle smile. “Hi, I’m Christine.”

With us were two young gentleman, also former AFS Scholars. Together, they fell into a lively conversation on our way downtown for lunch. Christine lively talked just about everything in her noticeably fluent English. Asked about it, “Oh, English is one of the major offerings in our Italian schools. Actually, my parents come from Brazil who settled in Italy. So, I have had the chance to learn and speak Portuguese, German, Spanish, and Italian, aside from English. I am the only child in the family.” And then describes the vibrant spirit of her City in Italy.

Since then, Christine has become a part and parcel of the Holy Virgin family, together with another Italian Scholar – Flavio Sartori. She is classified as Grade 11 as she goes about with her classmates and friends. Elementary kids love to gather around her calling out “Christine, Christine!” consorting and playing with her. She finds that most Filipinos easily smile and appear to be happy people. Her favorite food? -adobo!- as she opens her lunch box and eats with her classmates and friends in one of the vacant rooms. “I’m learning to adjust to the rather conservative persuasion of the Filipinos.” Ever curious and adventurous, Christine loves to walk around and explore her surroundings. Dr. Conchita Uy – Merin, the School Director and her foster parent, ever concerned says, “always take the necessary precautions for safety.” For that matter, Dr. Merin, like any other Filipino parent, generally expects that the children and everyone else in the family, be home by nightfall.

How does she fare in class? “Oh the subjects are quite different from what we have – likewise with certain methods of teaching. I am expected to take and pass all the examinations of the different subjects in the next level. “Oh, she’s very dedicated and an apt student.” say her teachers. Her friends and classmates like her for “she’s sweet and accommodating.”

Indeed, the AFS Scholar, Christine Esmeraldino represents in her own way the people of her nation that made Rome historically great. But, there’s much more to learn about the Filipino way of life. The AFS Program, together with the Holy Virgin of Salvacion School serves as a link to a better understanding among peoples.