American Corners’ Annual Conference 2013

Once again the American Corners’ network in the Philippines gathered for their three-day annual conference that was held in Manila last June 19-21, 2013 at the following venues:  the recently renovated Thomas Jefferson Information Center of the U.S Embassy Manila; the De La Salle University’s newly-built eco-friendly Learning Commons; and, the seaside Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Manila, respectively.

This year’s theme was “American Corner Standards: Keeping abreast with technological advances”. The conference served as a venue to enhance the participants’ knowledge and skills as well as to gain updates, outlooks and recent developments in the global network of American Corners. The highlights of the last academic years’ best practices of the ACs were also presented. The American Corner Manila Director, Ms. Ana Maria B. Fresnido and the Associate American Corner Librarian, Ms. Donna Lyn G. Labangon were the participants of this conference.

On the first day, the delegates were welcomed by the new Cultural Affairs Officer, Alan R. Holst. Likewise, the new IRC Deputy Director, Princess Grace C. Wooden gave her warm greetings and facilitated the introduction of participants. Honored and privileged, the delegates were given an inspirational message by the U.S Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. who commends the work done by all the American Corners in the Philippines. The Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer, Elizabeth Meza, greatly encouraged the group to reach out to the differently abled audience while sharing stories of how these kinds of programming can lead to transformative effects. Subsequently, the Information Resource Officer, Myra Michele Brown discussed the new Standard Matrix for American Corners which spurred questions and discussion. She encouraged all the ACs to evaluate their Corners and to realign programs to the new standard. In conclusion, Ms. Brown assured the group of how strong and dynamic the Philippine networks of ACs were.

The second day proved to be as meaningful as the first day, giving focus on the technological and social media tools. Social Media Specialist, Jay De Jesus, gave an overview of the current rate of the ACs social media platforms, citing the statistical rankings and reach. He also highlighted how important engagement is, hence he encouraged ACs to improve that aspect. Moreover, Billie Bautista, the Social Media Assistant, shared his expertise by presenting Basic iPad/Tablet Usage. He provided a list of apps that are helpful in promoting the social media platforms of the ACs. Furthermore, Visual Diplomacy Specialist, Harold Elvina, presented Photography and Basic Photo Editing to enhance the photo shots that represent each program that the AC does. Lastly, the new Reference Librarian, Randolf Mariano, presented the American e-resources and other helpful databases that can greatly help their researcher’s needs. The day ended with a tour of the DLSU Learning Commons which fascinated the delegates.

On the last day of the conference, EducationUSA Advising was discussed by the PAEF Executive Director, Dr. Esmeralda Cunanan. She demonstrated a brief orientation of how they go about group advising and provided tips on how to address queries regarding EducationUSA Advising. Meanwhile, Pong Aureus, the Cultural Affairs Specialist strongly encouraged all the ACs to further amplify the marketing of their respective Corners as she discusses the importance of branding. A trip to the Korean Cultural Center gave the participants a concrete example of modern and vibrant library space design as well as great library services. The fellowship night capped off the conference which enabled the participants to relax and enjoy each other’s company.