Jema Pamintuan, Ateneo de Manila University

A Creative Learning Environment

Jema library exhibit

Jema Pamintuan, far left, with women featured in her ALiWW exhibit.

Jema Pamintuan returned to Ateneo de Manila University in June 2014, full of fresh energy and ideas from her experiences as a 2012-2014 United Board Fellow. After her placement at Georgetown University, she wrote that she was eager “to further push myself in helping our department design new courses and teaching tools, and foster a creative and critically engaging learning environment within and outside the classroom.” Now Ateneo de Manila has offered her an opportunity to put those goals into practice: it named her executive director of the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (ALiWW), an archival facility that promotes writing by and about Filipino women among contemporary readers.

Dr. Pamintuan feels she is still a leader-in-training, so she relies on questions to guide her vision for the library. “What are the materials that ALiWW provides?” she asks. “How can we come up with projects that will make these materials accessible, useful, and meaningful to the academic community, as well as the outside community? Who are the marginalized women’s voices that our library might need to attend to, and how can we amplify those voices?”

Her experience as a United Board Fellow provides some answers. Dr. Pamintuan enjoyed attending the Georgetown Friday Music Concert Series, and she learned from its director how the concert music was integrated into students’ classes and research. So she reached out in similar fashion to Ateneo departments to publicize an ALiWW exhibit honoring Filipino comfort women, which featured the diaries, sketches, and artwork of former comfort women. Students from the English, Filipino, history, political science, and other departments visited the exhibit and took the information they gleaned back to their classrooms.

On other occasions, a mini-exhibit about the martial law period in the Philippines and a Visayan cultural performance created pathways from ALiWW to the classroom and community.

There is another dimension to Dr. Pamintuan’s leadership style: to value her colleagues. These types of events, like those Dr. Pamintuan observed during fellowship placements at Georgetown University and Tunghai University, open windows to understand a country or culture and to “help establish new, meaningful networks that will prove helpful in one’s own work and research.”

First published in Horizons, December 2014)