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Ligalig-Mike

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Filipino Lawyer Hungry in Harvard (we are survivors!)
« on: June 10, 2007, 07:43:57 AM »
Tips on how not to starve in Harvard

By Volt Contreras
Inquirer
Last updated 01:55am (Mla time) 06/09/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Before Oscar Franklin Tan drew raves for his commencement address at the elite Harvard Law School the other day, this young Filipino lawyer had his share of silent, awkward moments when basic things like meals became “an issue.”

In a candid, light-hearted exchange with the Inquirer, Tan shared how campus life could be tough even for excelling foreign students like him in one of the world’s premier institutions.

He managed to stretch his limited food budget, for example, by improvising his menu and even collecting “leftovers” at school functions.

He also took advantage of his professor’s habit of bringing two baskets of apples to class each Friday. Tan saw an opportunity when he noticed that most of his classmates, especially the Americans, “just ignored” the treat.

“There was usually at least one basket [of apples] left. I would bring an extra backpack every Friday and waited until everyone left and had free fruit half the year thanks to Professor Lawrence Tribe,” he said.

“Food was really an issue because I was on a tight budget, having entered Harvard Law practically a fresh graduate,” said Tan, whose studies were shouldered in part by the HLS, the Ayala Scholarship Fund, his law firm (Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz law office) where he is an associate, and with a little help from his father, fellow lawyer Edmund Tan.

“Some of the Asian and African students have become notorious for trying to save on food, and looking for free food. I became one of them after I learned that Harvard threw away uneaten food from all the functions and talks (which shocked the Africans in particular), and I just brought the food back to the dorm.”

‘Ugliest, cheapest dorm’

Tan fondly recalled all these “embarrassing” episodes in his e-mail to the Inquirer on Thursday, the day before he stood proud and tall as the commencement speaker at the 2007 HLS graduation rites, an honor bestowed upon him by his class.

The 27-year-old bachelor and 2005 law alumnus of the University of the Philippines finished his master’s degree at the premier institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was chosen to speak at the ceremony in behalf of some 700 American and foreign graduates.

Chow time in his fourth-floor unit at the Gropius dormitories, “the ugliest but cheapest” lodgings on campus, often had him “experimenting with many combinations to save food, such as making sandwiches and buying microwaveable chicken strips.” He also stocked up on canned soup and tuna whenever there was a sale.

Int’l relations

But while his cupboard was almost bare, Tan apparently had in abundance, memorable campus experiences, especially with classmates of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Being Filipino with Chinese lineage gave him a ready affinity with the East and Southeast Asians. Coming from a former Spanish and then US colony like the Philippines made it easy for him to relate to Americans, Latinos and Europeans, he noted.

“That leaves the Africans. I also had a ready affinity with them because I was from a developing country with postcolonial issues. I’d like to think that each of my classmates identified with me one way or another,” he said.

A Thai classmate was kind enough to help carry Tan’s refrigerator to his fourth-floor unit, since the dormitory had no elevator. A Saudi classmate, apparently familiar with the many Filipino workers in his oil-rich state, could understand most of Tan’s sentences in Filipino.

But his international relations were not always that smooth.

Culture clash

“There was one embarrassing moment where a French classmate and I almost had a fight until we sat down and compared our cultures. Our Nigerian classmate had lost a close relative and was feeling very sad, so I e-mailed [members of] the class requesting the religious students to pray for him and console him.”

The French classmate then sent Tan an alarmed e-mail, expressing “shock that I would violate someone’s privacy in such a public manner.”

“We discussed it, and he realized that grief is treated as a community issue in the Philippines (and in other developing countries), where public wakes are held and everyone tries to pass by to pay their respects. It was very new to him,” Tan recalled.


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Leomair10

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Re: Filipino Lawyer Hungry in Harvard (we are survivors!)
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2009, 05:04:55 PM »
I am praying for your safety my dear Filipinos! I am hoping that you are in good hand right now and for the day ahead of you. God Bless+



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hofelina

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Re: Filipino Lawyer Hungry in Harvard (we are survivors!)
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2009, 05:52:41 PM »
this is very touching, I couldn´t imagine he is not getting any help from a huge Filipino community. We have Filipino scholars here but I never heared that they go hungry. Amo man jud sagopon basta mosulti lang labina kon mingawon ug rice.
Ang mensa ( maoy kan-anan sa German Uni) barato ra ang pag-kaon kay subsidized sa government.
Any way such struggles and experiences could strenghten his character.

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