What is it like working for a think tank that advocates for good governance? Young members of our team share their experiences and biggest learnings from the year that was. May their insights inspire us to continue our work of nation-building as we welcome 2017!

Miguel Deanon, 21
Program Coordinator for Local Government Units:

As a Development Studies graduate, I know how difficult it is for governments to come up with models and strategies that can effectively address their constituencies’ concerns. Working at ISA is a unique experience because I actually have the opportunity to work with local government units in crafting long-term visions and implementing accompanying strategies. I am able to witness their development first-hand, and this is my avenue for contributing concretely to nation-building as an ordinary citizen.

Dana Juridico, 22
Program Coordinator for Learning and Development:

There are countless ways I can invest in the Philippines, but working with to help government improve means I’m investing in our country five days a week, every week of the year. When I sit down at my desk each day, I know I contribute to pushing for world-class service to become the standard in the public sector.

Being part of ISA is both a humbling and an empowering experience. I learned that campaigning for good governance means fighting bureaucratic practices and swimming upstream; that it is all about challenging traditions and promoting an honest and innovative government. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that I’m part of an organization whose work is dedicated to pursuing progress for the good of every Filipino.

Aimee Abello, 25
Program Coordinator for Learning and Development:

ISA teaches me the value of good governance and responsible citizenship, and it gives me an opportunity to help and to lead my countrymen. Working at ISA inspires me to deepen my commitment to serving others and my country, and I know that it will continue to be a big part of my search for truth and wisdom. As early as now, I can say that ISA is an experience I will always treasure. May good governance always remain in our hearts.

Arrielle Tugade, 23
Program Coordinator for National Government Agencies:

“Working at ISA was the highlight of my 2016. Fresh out of college and hungry for experience, I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone as I dealt with public sector partners assigned to me from the defense sector. ISA has provided me with countless opportunities to face challenges head on and to develop a positive outlook.

What I enjoy most about working at ISA is the chance to mingle with people from all walks of life, who have one thing in common: dedication to serving the motherland. Truth be told, I had already started to feel hopeless for the country, but my work restored my faith in the public sector. Witnessing ISA’s advocacy and the truly collaborative work of transformation is truly an inspiration. I look forward to the rest of my journey at ISA.”

Denise Dalusong, 21
Program Coordinator for National Government Agencies:

Working at ISA led to opportunities I would have never thought possible, like witnessing first-hand how a government agency crafts their strategy and shaking hands with the Vice President and other achievers in the public sector. It allowed me to meet some of the most hardworking and passionate people in government who, in spite of controversy and red tape, continue to serve their country. Having met many personalities whose goals are geared toward national development, I am inspired to also be an instrument of positive change in the sociopolitical landscape.

I have been incredibly lucky to have worked with ambitious minds, active bodies, and grounded hearts. I hope that I can continue to do work that inspires others to make governance a shared responsibility, the same way my colleagues at ISA do.

Jyska Kuan Ken, 23
Program Coordinator for Resource Mobilization:

It is common to think of government as being a separate entity, whose presence we feel only when looking at monthly deductions on our pay slips or when seeing the faces of politicians plastered everywhere during election season. But thanks to ISA, my perception has widened and my sense of purpose has been ignited. It has shown me how much better things can be when we collaborate with government instead of staying passive.

Working alongside people who are genuinely committed to the cause of good governance has been a blessing. I now realize that practicing good governance doesn’t mean performing grand gestures. Good governance is also observed in the little things, like following signs at a pedestrian crossing.

The road ahead is a long one riddled with challenges, but I am filled with hope and I believe that “it can be done.” There are still many of us fighting the good fight.

ISA’s program coordinators work with national government agencies and local government units to set up concrete development plans and embed a culture of governance that will yield better public service and sustain faster economic growth well into the next decade. This article was originally published in The Manila Times.