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Souvenir photo pose: the graduate students and young professionals gathered at the Residence to unwind on a Saturday evening.

A fun night of food, games, songs, laughter, getting-to-know-you and getting-together-for-the-country marked the fellowship night hosted by Ambassador Melita Sta.Maria-Thomeczek for Filipino graduate students and young professionals across Germany.  The event was held on 21 January 2017 at the Residence in Berlin and was attended by 24 guests from Berlin, Potsdam, Bremen, Bonn, Bochum, Greifswald, Göttingen, Essen, Erfurt and Munich.

The Embassy noted the diverse backgrounds of the attendees. They were connected with industries and academic disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, business, engineering and information technology.  Young professional guests currently worked as lawyers, production designers, engineers, singer-composers, start-up entrepreneurs and consultants.  The MA and PhD students were enrolled in a wide array of disciplines including Molecular Plant Physiology, Public Policy, Botany and Landscape Ecology, Global History, Agricultural Sciences and Business Administration.

Most of the Filipino scholars were introduced to the Embassy by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) or the German Academic Exchange Service.  With English-language courses increasing in Germany, more Filipino students may now avail of DAAD, Helmut Schmidt Programme (Masters in Public Policy and Good Governance) and EPOS-Programme (Development-related postgraduate courses) grants for the opportunity to study at German universities.  The reform of the Philippine educational system to the K to 12 Education Program will now also make it easier for Filipinos to pursue further studies overseas with the recognition of their degrees from the Philippines.

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The evening also featured the launching of the Embassy’s Geschenk-Ein-Buch Project (Gift-A-Book) which encouraged the young guests to donate Filipiniana books to their universities and local libraries.  A number of books turned over to the Embassy by participating Philippine publishers at last year´s Frankfurt Book Fair were given to the young guests as part of this undertaking.  Guests were also given a link to the National Book Development Board´s (NBND) list of award-winning books that they can request from their libraries.

The Embassy also encouraged them to submit their profiles for the Department of Foreign Affairs-Filipinos Around the World project (goo.gl/zavBnJ) to gather profiles and stories of overseas Filipinos from different parts of the globe. These would be published on DFA’s social media platforms.

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The event was an opportunity to get to meet one another and share experiences. Upcoming projects were discussed. For example, a networking system will be established by a student association to promote to PHL Universities the availment of studies in Germany. A singer young professional has embarked on a campaign to help reforestation projects in Mindanao and she encouraged the group to support her in the endeavor. A lawyer brought up the idea of better networking to help Filipinas in distress in far-flung places in Germany. In 2017, the Filipino Film Festival in Berlin will once more be organized and produced  by young Filipino filmmakers and art enthusiasts.  The Embassy expressed appreciation and support to the sense of empowerment of this young group.

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Noting that most have been away from home for some time, PHL food and drinks were  served :  calamansi juice as a welcome drink, lechon (roasted pork), pansit (stir-fried noodles), longganisa (Filipino-style sweet sausage), chop-suey, leche flan (crème caramel), banana turon (deep fried banana rolls with jackfruit)  and halo-halo (mixed fruit with shaved ice).

Guests also went home with a care package of Philippine treats. END

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