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Filipina at Harvard Wins Award in Education


Phoebe Co

Phoebe Co is an Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Human Development and Psychology (HDP)

One post on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) website features a colorful photograph of beautiful, handwoven pieces created by the Yakan women of Sulu. These were the fabrics Phoebe Co was prepared to proudly wear for her commencement ceremony that has been canceled due to the current health crisis.

“These are beautiful woven fabrics from my home country, the Philippines,” Phoebe says in her interview for a profile on the HSGE’s official website. “Just as these fabric pieces are woven together from many individual threads, my experience at HGSE has been meaningful because of the many people who have significantly contributed to the ways I understand and engage with the world and, accordingly, how I view education and research.”

While she was unable to show off the craftsmanship and traditional fashion of her country in a ceremony, Phoebe chose the image to represent her journey as an Intellectual Contribution Awardee, an award that is given to only 13 Master of Education students at HGSE. One of the graduate schools of the prestigious Harvard University, HGSE is known for its world-class education in educational research.

Yakan textiles are recognised for its remarkable technicolour geometric weaves

Yakan textiles are recognised for its remarkable technicolour geometric weaves, photo courtesy of Phoebe Co

“I attended HGSE with the intention of applying all that I learned back in the Philippines,” Phoebe adds. “I am drawn to education and research that uphold love and liberation. I have also been interested in the intersections of developmental, community, and liberation psychology in the context of schools and communities.”

Depending on how you look at it, Phoebe could not be coming home at a worse or better time, a time when we need new voices and ideas. As our country tries to figure out how to live with this health threat, how we educate our children and the youth has become one of the biggest questions everybody has been struggling to answer. Distance learning? Online resources? Asychonistic lessons?

“This period that gave rise to barriers to the dominant ways of schooling widen the opportunity to envision and structurally redesign in pursuit of an education that embodies pedagogies and cultures of care, love, and hope,” Phoebe says of how the pandemic has shifted her views on education. “We are also witnessing the significance and strength of authentic collaboration and relationships among learners, schools, families, and communities.”

Like individual threads woven together to create a beautiful tapestry or cloth, Phoebe imagines a new education system that is woven from the collaboration of people in the community, teachers, parents, and students. Each stakeholder giving a unique point of view, a different color of thread, working together to create something more stunning and impactful than its individual pieces. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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