Less than five minutes walk from The Henry Hotel in downtown Cebu is one of three campuses of the University of Cebu. My morning and early afternoon here was certainly a different experience to campus life back in Australia. Situated in a commercial precinct, this campus, to some extent, is similar to that of the UniSA City West campus. However, that is where any outward similarity ends.
My first observations was the student population. They all wore uniforms and each uniform distinguishes the area of their studies – as the photographs in the sidebar indicate. These few are only an example. The students appear to wear them with a degree of pride. I’ll come back to this later.
The security on campus was high and visible. Every student wore an ID around their neck and it had to be produced before passing security. All bags were opened and visually checked. The guards were armed. I have been trained in the use of firearms, but they still scare the hell out of me. I do not care who is armed, how well they are trained, or their role, firearms kill … despite the preaching of the ARA, Charlton Heston and his successor, whom ever that nut case is. I think I have clearly defined my views.
My ID was checked, Driver’s License, Uni Staff Card and my local address taken. They were held by security until I left the campus. Oh and no photographs allowed other than in designated places.
However, once in the halls of learning, it was not all dissimilar to home. Students being students, activity, lectures and class rooms. My more interesting chats with students came when I had lunch off campus at the shopping mall opposite the campus complex. I was sitting in a Filipino food outlet enjoying some local cooking. A number of students acknowledged me, one then another and another drifted across to speak. A little hesitantly at first, shy about speaking English, which is probably their third language. Soon there was a bit of a crowd and we moved tables. There was little interest in communications or advertising, they wanted to know about Australia. To them it was a land of excitement, mystery, strange animals and dangerous sharks. They wanted to know about study in Australia, what were the students like, what food do we eat, and the questions could have gone on for a lot longer, but students here do not skip classes. To their families and themselves, education is a privilege, costs significant money and not to be abused.
Earlier I mentioned the uniforms. The students studying criminology were particularly smart and military in their appearance. The women wore their hair in a bun, the men, neat, short hair-cuts and the uniforms reflected pride in their appearance. Shoes/boots highly polished, badges depicting the area of study, the student’s name over the breast pocket and other insignia as well and their bearing was formal, yet relaxed.
I enjoyed the experience and that alone has made my trip here worthwhile.