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The Philippine Embassy in Paris turned into a sea of blue during the graduation ceremony of the first batch of the Ateneo School of Government’s (ASOG) Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Program for Migrant Filipinos.

ASOG Dean Antonio La Viña, together with Embassy Chargé d’affaires Deena Joy Amatong, handed out certificates to thirty-two OFWs who successfully completed the LSE Program. 

Organized in partnership with the Overseas Filipinos Society for the Promotion of Economic Security (OFSPES), the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc. (SEDPI), the Ugnayan at Tulong Para sa Maralitang Pamilya (UGAT) Foundation, and the Philippine Embassy in Paris, the LSE program intends to transform OFWs to leaders and OFIs (Overseas Filipino Investors). The program includes leadership and entrepreneurship skills training and financial literacy and requires that each participant submit and defend a business plan with a social component.

The first Paris batch is the 18th for the ASOG, in a program that began in Italy and eventually branched out to United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

During the graduation ceremony held at the Embassy’s premises, four students shared their testimonials on how the LSE program literally changed their lives:

“I used to just clean and scrub day in and day out. Because of the LSE program, I learned to treat myself as well. For my graduation today and for the first time since I arrived in France, I went to the parlor to have my hair and makeup done.”

“I learned to make my assets work for myself. I should have learned this upon my arrival in France because I could have already started investing my money then.”

“One of the most important things I learned through the LSE program is that there is dignity in the work that I do.”

Aside from certificates of completion, the participants with the best business plan were likewise given a special award. A separate article (see “The Story of June Galon: From Brain Drain to Brain Gain”) is available (http://www.parispe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/site-administrator/embassy-updates/236-the-story-of-june-galon-from-brain-drain-to-brain-gain).

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LSE Batch 18 graduates and organizers at the Embassy patio

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Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Deena Joy Amatong delivers her remarks at the graduation ceremony

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Dean Antonio La Viña and CDA Deena Joy Amatong award Mr. Rogelio Galon, Jr. for the Best Business Plan