By Dr. Agostinho Dos Santos Goncalves, EXDB
On Saturday morning, April 8, the Executive President of Cristal Foundation invited the Extraordinary Councillor for East Asia-Oceania Salesian Region, Fr Václav Klement, to share his time with the faculties, selected students and Cristal Foundation board members in the Balide - Dili campus, located 100 meter from the Dili-Balide FMA community.
A meeting was attended by four hundred young students and their professors, with opening remarks, talks, songs and a lively much-participated open forum with many questions for Fr. Klement. The dialogue focused on Don Bosco's education, the happiness of serving other people (like Don Bosco in the Turin prisons), missionary commitment in Timor and beyond, and responsibility to share the precious gift of faith among one's peers. The speaker also invited two teachers and two students to share their story about the roots of their joy and happiness.
The Institute Superior Cristal or ISC is a private Institution of Higher Education, which was established by the Cristal Foundation (Fundação Cristal) on November 5, 2001. The numerous branches of ISC are located in 9 different towns of East Timor with a focus on offering Bachelor degree courses in two departments: Faculty of Teacher Training & Education and Faculty of Education & Health Sciences (specialization in English, Portuguese, Science and Nursing). So far, almost 5000 Bachelor degree holders have graduated from the ISC in the past few years. Every weekend, 3000 students attend the classes offered for working people.
The 34-year history of CRISTAL offers insight into the grateful heart of those who received Don Bosco education and would like to share it with others. In the beginning, the ten Don Bosco Alumni founders simply went around knocking on many doors and asking for any kind of help - rooms for teaching, volunteers to teach or financial contribution for the classroom building. Their passion for education is a great contribution for the progress of the youngest nation in East Asia.
Not only the Don Bosco Alumni, who are at the direction of the whole Institution, but also the nearby FMA sisters offer help with their faithful Good Morning Talks to the students of 4 different institutions, as does the spiritual accompaniment by Fr. Manuel Pinto (Chaplain of the ISC), and interaction with other Salesian Family groups which all contribute to the Salesian ethos under the school's motto: “Knowledge is Development.” One SDB Brother and FMA postulants are also students of the Cristal.
The wonderful morning ended with lunch with the Cristal Board members and two Salesians (translator, Br. Adriano de Jesus) and with Mr. Federico Almeida Santos da Costa, Founder of Cristal Foundation, who spoke of the institution's 34-year history.
At present the Cristal Foundation is the second largest education agency (after the RDTL government institutions) in East Timor.