IN A historic move, the Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST) successfully conducted its first-ever Systemwide Peer Facilitators’ Training Camp.
This landmark event, held on November 23-24, 2023, at the scenic RJ Beach Resort in Sitio San Francisco, Brgy. Balaring, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, brought together 90 peer facilitators and mentors from its five campuses. Aimed at bolstering peer support and advancing mental wellness, the event marks a turning point in ISUFST’s 66-year legacy of educational excellence and student service.
Prof. Grace Bunda, a registered guidance counselor and the Director of the Office of Student Affairs and Services (OSAS), outlined the camp’s ambitious goals: “Our vision is to empower students with the aptitude to become effective peer facilitators. By honing their skills in active listening, empathy, and responsiveness, they will significantly contribute to the well-being of their peers, serving as a crucial extension of our guidance office.”
Bunda added: “This program is for students who are interested to volunteer as peer facilitators who will be able to spot co-learners with emotional and psychological concerns for referral. As an extended arm of the Guidance Office they will be further trained to facilitate psycho-educational activities like group dynamics and processing in order to help their peers who are in need.”
The two-day camp was organized, featuring a diverse range of activities, including ice-breakers, bonfire rituals, and insightful workshops. These sessions were designed to nurture self-awareness, foster trust-building, enhance para-counseling skills, and improve interpersonal relationships. The program culminated in a meaningful induction and commitment ceremony, officially welcoming the new batch of peer facilitators.
This pioneering initiative targeted intellectually sound and empathetic students, primarily in their early college years, who embody sincerity, commitment, understanding, and open-mindedness. These qualities are essential in shaping individuals who can offer emotional support, facilitate positive campus dynamics, encourage constructive dialogue, and actively participate in the university’s mental health endeavors.
Tiwi Campus Guidance Counselor Keziah Lagarto, one of the facilitators of the event, emphasized its significance: “This training is a cornerstone in enhancing our school’s mental wellness programs. The newly trained peer facilitators are now better equipped to identify and address mental health concerns among students, ensuring they receive timely and appropriate support.”
To note, the event featured a panel of facilitators and lecturers who also happens to be part of the Wellness Advocacy Team of the university, including Prof. Grace Bunda, Dr. Anabelle C. Faldas, Dr. Imelda Arenga RGC, Prof. Ruby P. Faunillo RGC, Ms. Roussel Justinn B. Esmeralda RGC, Ms. Keziah A. Lagarto RGC, Ms. Nilbe M. Deocampo, Dr. Lydia V. Araneta RGC, Ms. Ma. Josefa B. Barrido, Instr. Junna Mari Pacardo RGC, Dr. Herman Lagon RGC, and Prof. John Niñjo Crauz.
Under the leadership of University President Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr., ISUFST’s inaugural Peer Facilitators’ Training Camp 2023 is a testament to the school’s unwavering commitment to creating a nurturing and inclusive academic environment. This initiative not only sets a new standard for peer support in higher education but also lays a solid foundation for the university’s future student support endeavors.