The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) joins hands with Club de Damas Latinas, Inc. (CDL) to promote language and cultural appreciation among the Institute’s Spanish language students.

FSI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CDL on 10 January 2020 to formalize their partnership in enhancing the program and activities to learn and appreciate the Spanish and Latin American culture.

The MOU—signed by FSI Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat and CDL President Maria Gabriela De Leste Ramirez—seeks to strengthen cooperation and establish linkages between FSI and CDL to enrich the Foreign Service Corps’ learning experience of the Spanish language through exposure to relevant activities, such as fellowship lunch, dance parties, family picnic, out-of-town trips, outreach programs, and interaction with other Spanish-speaking persons.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Ms. Elizabeth Edder Zobel, CDL Vice President; Ms. Judy Ann Galindo Aboitiz, CDL Treasurer; Ms. Marichu C. Liwanag, Head of FSI’s Carlos P. Romulo School of Diplomacy (CPRSD); Ms. Carmelita S. Marasigan, Head of FSI’s Administrative and Financial Services Division (AFSD), and officials and staff of the Institute.

Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat (right) and CDL President Maria Gabriela De Leste Ramirez (left) sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the Institute and the Club de Damas Latinas, Inc.

This collaboration hopes to further deepen the bilateral ties between the Philippines and the Latin American region.

In 2019, the Institute engaged in a partnership with the Government of Colombia, which made possible of the Spanish Language Course for Philippine diplomats and public servants from 30 September to 13 December 2019, with a native Spanish speaker as instructor at FSI.

This MOU between FSI and CDL formalizes the two institutions’ joint activities, such as access to CDL’s cultural enrichment events and opportunities to enhance the FSI students’ language proficiency in Spanish.

Some of the activities that FSI language students have attended were family picnic, lunch at the Spanish Ambassador’s residence hosted by CDL Spanish members, and Barrio Fiesta Latino, which highlighted similarities between the Latin American and Philippine cultures and focused on their barrio fiesta traditions, among others. As part of the Institute’s initiatives, FSI has been pursuing partnerships and collaborations with other government agencies, embassies, universities, and other organizations, in the Philippines or abroad, with a view to improving the quality and breadth of its training programs.

Officers of both the Institute and CDL discuss other areas of collaboration.

CDL, a non-profit organization of women with ties to Latin America and Spain, aims to create a shared Spanish-speaking cultural space of friendship and support for its members, build a network of information and resources for their use, and be of service to the Filipino community.

Likewise, CDL holds regular socio-civic activities to promote Latin American and Spanish culture.