“Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth, the more experience you are sure to get.”

-L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of the most loved fairytale stories of all time. It tells the story of the protagonist Dorothy Gale, with her dog Toto, when she was flown to a distant place by a cyclone and embarked on a journey to the Emerald City to find her way back home in Kansas. The magical appeal of the story made many children and adults aspire to be Dorothy.

Seemingly, fate has its own ways of creating a link between fantasy and reality as someone may have been living the life of Dorothy all along. From living in Kansas, owning a dog, and setting out on a journey to an unfamiliar place, the details are candidly similar. And so, we meet Ms. Jillian Schleiden, the ‘Dorothy’ of Kansas brought by a cyclone of overwhelming endeavors to the Emerald City, the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture.

A Journey with a Mission

Jillian Schleiden is part of the  Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term Program for U.S. Teachers (Fulbright DAST). This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). It sends K-12 US teachers to participating schools to support education initiatives or institutions that can benefit from the expertise of exemplary U.S. teachers and to build U.S. teachers’ knowledge of the host country to enable them to internationalize their U.S. classrooms and schools upon their return.

She is a teacher at Pleasant Hills Public School, Kansas City, USA, and is currently staying in England for her Master’s studies. 

She joins the College of Development Education for four weeks as DAST representative. During her stay, she will conduct academic-related activities and extension services to the community of Pili, Camarines Sur.

Ms. Jillian is set to conduct Micro-credential on Technical Writing on September 7-9, 2022 and Micro-credential on Academic Research Writing on September 12-14, 2022. This is intended for pre-service teachers, secondary teachers from cooperating schools and office personnel of the Local Government Unit of Pili (LGU-Pili). This is a 6-day training with synchronous and asynchronous sessions.

She does an ongoing series of academic and cultural exposures in the Bicol region. She is set to visit CBSUA campuses, Pasacao, Sipocoot and Calabanga. Together with CDE faculty members, they visited model farms, cultural sites, zoos, beaches, and religious structures. 


Being in CBSUA: More than just an Academic Journey

In Dorothy’s adventures going to Oz, she met a lot of people and gone to various places which allowed her to create a special bond with them. Similarly, Jillian got to know the people of the place where she currently stays and their culture. Moreover, we’ll also get to know more about her personally, as revealed in her answers to the questions below.


Why did you choose the Philippines for your DAST program?

I’ve been to various countries but have never been here. Here in Asia, I believe the Philippines is a welcoming country. I felt like I am meant to be here. Everything is a good fit.


What’s your impression of Filipinos?

Filipinos are generally warmhearted, funny, and amiable compared to Europeans and Americans. Despite the circumstances, they find things funny and are always happy.


What Filipino food do you like so far?

I loved the macapuno rice puto we ate on our way from Legazpi airport. The soft buko filling was good. Also, spicy adobo is a blast. 


Who are you missing?

I miss my husband, we just got married a few months ago. I also miss my big fluffy dog, Moose. He used to work as emotional and reading support to school kids in America. He was happy to receive dog food as his salary. For now, he is staying with us in England.


What’s your unforgettable experience while you are here in the Philippines?

I am amazed of lizards, its feature, and their sounds. There was this baby lizard at my doorknob which I think would welcome me whenever I came to my room. I guess those lizards would miss me (laughs).


What are you looking forward to?

I am excited to see Philippine monkeys at Albay Zoo, but I’m afraid of the spiders. I would also like to witness how Bikolanos celebrate the Peñafrancia fiesta.


It was very brave of Jillian to leave home to set out on this trip. Her optimism, dedication, and overflowing love for education fuels her to do more. Further, CBSUA will help her as she works out her way to fulfilling the mission of this great undertaking. 

Jillian Schleiden’s tale of purpose is surely one for the books- a tale so incredible that will surely be remembered. A tale that is as good as Dorothy’s, or even better.


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