Last January 7 and 8, 2017, Sagip Bayan – Student Group (SBSG) hosted three foreign exchange students (2 from Chile and 1 from the Netherlands). This activity is part of the of professional student exchange program of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) to which SBSG is affiliated with. Volunteers from SBSG toured the exchange students at Pinto Art Museum on Saturday, January 7. They then went to Maginhawa Food Strip where the exchange students got a taste of authentic Filipino food. On Sunday, January 8, the group traveled to Tanay, Rizal where the exchange students enjoyed the cool and refreshing water of Daranak Falls. They also had an unforgettable experience trekking the Calinawan cave where they witnessed magnificent rock formations.

The hosting activity was not only for rest and recreation but also for exchange of ideas and information between the host country and the visiting country. Sarita Echeverria and Lucas Gutierrez from Chile shared that the reason why they enrolled for a 4-week hospital rotation in the Philippines was because they wanted to see medical cases in Asia. They also believe that the Philippines is a beautiful country with warm and hospitable people. Karo Rikhof from the Netherlands wanted to witness the Philippine healthcare system, which is very much different from the healthcare system of the Netherlands. The Dutch have a very efficient delivery of medical services and everyone has a health insurance, unlike here in the Philippines. Ms. Rikhof was interested to see how Filipinos are able to provide medical services especially to far-flung areas.

The essence of the student exchange program is to strengthen the bond among the organizations that are part of IFMSA through the exchange of knowledge about the healthcare system of each country. This year, SBSG participates in the professional student exchange program not only by hosting foreign students but also by sending four students abroad. R-jay Agbon, Angelica Rose Atienza, Faith Abigail Co, and Michael Fong are set to leave the country for a 4-week hospital rotation in Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, and Switzerland, respectively.