The Government of the Philippines and Seton Hall University officials recently signed an agreement to expand their learning partnership.
H.E. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to U.S., Seton Hall President A. Gabriel Esteban, and Ambassador John K. Menzies, Dean of the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at the University, gathered to sign the agreement in unison. Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York also signed as witness.
“We have a three to four year relationship now with several universities in the Philippines, where our students attend. We send nursing faculty and students to the College of Nursing of the University of the Philippines, and our Health Sciences will be sending faculty and students as well,” said Dr. Esteban. “This relationship is great because the Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia. To establish ties back home is special.”
As part of the agreement, The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Whitehead School will share publications and information regarding courses in international relations and diplomacy. A relationship between their respective libraries will be established whereby projects in areas of mutual interest, particularly in research projects and the organization of conferences, seminars, and workshops in the field of diplomacy and global concerns will also be shared.
Ambassador Menzies said he looked forward to implementing the areas of cooperation. He also credited Dr. Esteban, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines, for “creating actual working relationships with the Philippines.”
“I think this is a major building block in the relationship between Seton Hall and the Philippines – between all of us. The Whitehead School is creating a relationship today with the ministry of foreign affairs directly. This is our second government to school relationship after Portugal,” Menzies added.
Ambassador Cuisia reflected on a range of important topics, especially the critical role of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in training the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Home Office and Foreign Service personnel, in serving as the center for the development and professionalization of the career Foreign Service corps, and in conducting researches relating to international issues and foreign policies.
“A strong FSI will be good for the DFA, the Philippine Foreign Service and, ultimately, for our country. That is why FSI is constantly looking for partners that will help increase its capability for research, strategic thinking, training and development. FSI also believes that it has valuable experience and knowledge to share with its partners. FSI is a witness to the evolution of Philippine diplomacy and can provide an Asian perspective to important international issues,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
Following the ceremony, Ambassador Cuisia discussed Philippines’ economic growth and security with students.
“Events with major figures in foreign policy reaffirm to me that I made the right decision by coming to the Whitehead School,” Hawah Cyllah, a senior, explained. “I am constantly exposed to actors who are actually in the midst, dealing with our global leaders, making real changes. It has really broadened my knowledge in foreign policy and given me something tangible outside the classroom. It’s been invaluable so far.”
Noelle Argonza, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore and a member of the university’s Filipino dance team FLASH, also felt the importance of Ambassador Cuisia’s visit.
“As a Filipino-American," she said, "we have a kind of disconnect between issues going on back home and here. So it’s nice that we have the opportunity to see the impact he has on Filipino-Americans and feel more rooted in our culture when he is here.”