The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, the central unit that facilitates and harmonizes all of UST’s community extension and services efforts, is now on its fourth year of running the Learning Exchange Program, a learning caravan where the office gets to share its best practices in the Catholic Mission of Service and the Dominican mission of justice, peace, and care of creation.

Each year since 2016, UST SIMBAHAYAN, which literally stands for Simbahan (Church), Bahay (Home), and Bayan (Nation / Country), has brought the caravan to two partner universities in the country. Each university, in turn, also shares its best practices, providing the UST group a chance to learn, too. According to Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony D. Abenir, DSD, the act of sharing best practices by the partner universities “becomes an opportunity where UST SIMBAHAYAN learns from other HEIs in how they address local challenges in their surrounding communities and how they contribute to public service in their respective regions.” Such an exchange helps in achieving the goal of “mutual exchange of best practices in community engagement, to foster a network of socially engaged and responsive universities.”

A total of eight universities have hosted the caravan.

2016: Silliman University and St. Paul University (Dumaguete)

2017: University of St. La Salle and University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (Bacolod)

2018: St. Mary’s University (Nueva Vizcaya) and the University of the Cordilleras (Baguio City)

2019: Liceo de Cagayan University and Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) (Cagayan de Oro)

The Learning Exchange Program is similar to the United States of America’s Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education; and the Talloires Network in Europe, an international association of institutions that aims to foster higher education civic engagement).