Chamberlain Schultz recently taught peer mediation in the Philippines on an internship through the McKay Center. Read on about her amazing experience and to feel her powerful testimony of mediation!

"Maayong Hapon (Good afternoon)! My name is Chamberlain McCracken, and I am 22 years old. I had the privilege of being a peace building student at BYU-Hawaii for three semesters. I recently graduated with my Associates and a Peace-building Certificate. 

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There were a number of things that brought me to teach mediation classes in the Philippines. First being, my desire to share the things I’d been learning!  When I first learned about mediation I was captivated.  I felt like it was a skill I’d observed in people like my mother and dear friend Daisy, but I never knew what “it” exactly was or how to develop it myself.  Sitting in Brother Whippy’s and Brother Ford’s class were powerful experiences that showed me how important of a skill it is to develop as a peace builder.  I wanted to be able to offer people the joy, relief, and satisfaction that comes from mediation that I saw David and Chad offering.  Mediation has a power to transform conflicts, and reconcile relationships. All of us can benefit from it and because of that I wanted to share it. The second thing that brought me to the Philippines was my deep love for Filipinos and Filipino culture. I served my mission in the Philippines and have LOVED it ever since.  So when I heard that the internship could be taken anywhere in the Asia-South Pacific, I knew I wanted to ask about going to the Philippines. 

My experience was incredibly rewarding! That might sound cheesy and a little predictable, but truly it was one of the best experiences of my life.  Two of my passions were able to meet and contribute to a greater cause, so I’m not really sure what more I could have asked for!  When I first got to the island things were looking very hopeful.  The students were very receptive and on top of that we were setting up appointments to teach mediation to local police officers, and present at an educational conference. I was excited to say the least.  However my month stay didn’t turn out to be “productive” as I thought it would.  Our schedule with the police never worked out, and our contacts with the education group ended when they stopped attending the classes; leaving us uninvited to present a training. However, we were able to reach out to my former Mission President and training the leaders of the mission on some basic peace building/mediation skills. Mostly my work for the internship consisted of weekly classes with around 30-40 students attending. In the end the turn out of students or impressive (almost) appointments aren’t what made the internship rewarding. It was the chance that I had to work one on one with students facing burdensome conflicts in their families, and give them skills that enabled them to serve where they once felt hopeless. With that being said, there was a wide range of students with very different conflicts, and I was often worried I wasn’t doing a good job at meeting their individual learning needs. I found a lot of joy and comfort in the fact that the students were always eager to learn and be patient with the process of mediation. 

I have to also mention my experience with the abundance of baby goats living in the Philippines. Aside from teaching class, eating delicious food, and exploring the island - hands down best experience was picking up baby goats all day every day!! (I will of course include a picture of their adorableness).

There is also a good amount that can be said about the language barrier. Even though I speak the native language, Hiligaynon, (definitely not perfectly) and would teach most of my class in Hiligaynon-a lot of the lessons weren’t compatible to Filipino cultural situations. It was tricky navigating and researching how to make the lessons more relatable and meaningful to the students in that way. I tried my best to adapt the lessons to become more Filipino minded, but I think there is a good amount of work to be done with Filipinos to make the curriculum more situated to them. I do think that is one thing to be prepared for if you’re going to be a foreigner teaching in another country. 

The advice I have for anyone who would like to get involved in a project like this, is don’t let anything stop you.  When I first had the idea to go to the Philippines I quickly realized that the only month I could go, happened to be the one month that school was out of session. If I didn’t have a school to go, where could I teach? But I knew it was something I dearly wanted to do, and I wasn’t going to let that bump in the road stop me. I think it is important for us to face opposition in pursuit of what we love. So if it’s harder than you think making the trip to go and teach, that’s okay! My husband always says “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me”. 

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I would also recommend talking to everyone and anyone you can about mediation and what you’re doing once you get there. Maybe it was because I use to be a missionary, and so my missionary side came out a little more….but some of my best teaching moments about mediation were a jeepney going home.  Or to a woman while I was buying mangos. Don’t leave mediation in the classroom, take it with you where ever you go! 

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Ummmmmmmm everyone should want to go the Philippines to teach mediation. And if you do, eat ALL THE MANGOS YOU CAN. Dead serious, if you don’t eat at least one mango a day, you’re doing something wrong ;) Also pick up baby goats as often as you can. I may or may not have temporary “stolen” random baby goats and chickens to hold all the time. I may have gotten some strange looks from Filipinos who were thinking “what in the world is this white girl doing with my baby chicken/baby goat”. But then you just turn it into an excellent chance to introduce yourself and talk about mediation ;) And I have no regrets ...

Lastly I would recommend making yourself at home in the country that you go and teach in. The more you envelope yourself with their life style, the more effective your teaching will become."

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Story by Chamberlain Schultz

Contact David Whippy at the McKay Center for more information on internships abroad.