November 08, 2023
Dr. Merili Metsvahi, professor from the University of Tartu in Estonia, successfully concluded her academic fellowship at Ifugao State University (IFSU) during the period of October 2-30, 2023. She was conferred with a Certificate of Recognition by the University President Dr. Eva Marie Codamon-Dugyon during the Exit Conference on October 27, 2023, attended by the IFSU Administrative Council members.
Dr. Metsvahi, specializing in Folklore Studies, is a recipient of the Oceanic and South East Asian Navigation (OCSEAN), a program funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange. The OCSEAN Consortium, comprising 25 institutions from around the world, aims to illuminate the Austronesian movement. A central aspect of this project involves the exchange of researchers between institutions, with each researcher spending a minimum of one month at their host institution. OCSEAN brings together leading experts from the humanities and sciences, pooling resources from multiple laboratories to tackle complex questions through this extensive network of cooperation.
During her tenure at IFSU, Dr. Metsvahi actively participated in a range of academic activities. She served as a featured speaker at the Betelnut Digest Research Forum, addressing the topic "Folkloric Navigation: Connecting Estonia to Cordillera." Furthermore, she conducted three (3) workshops on Folklore Curation and Documentation, collaborating closely with IFSU's faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Metsvahi also engaged with Ifugao schoolchildren through a storytelling session at Nayon Elementary School, where she shared Estonian folktales. In line with her research goals, she immersed herself in the local culture by actively participating in fieldwork studies and was graciously hosted by Kalinga State University for a six-day community immersion and academic discourse.
Reflecting on her time at IFSU, Dr. Metsvahi said “Ifugao and Estonia share the common pride for cultural heritage and the fervor to sustain it. The collective approach to work and living, as exemplified by the Ifugao people, holds valuable lessons for other cultures. I am thankful to IFSU and OCSEAN for providing this opportunity for mutual learning and knowledge exchange."
In response, Dr. Dugyon, expressed her optimism for the future, saying, “This marks the commencement of a long-term collaboration between IFSU and the University of Tartu in Estonia. At IFSU, we take great pride in celebrating our local cultural heritage and remain dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding through our academic capabilities."
The International Affairs and Linkages Office spearheaded said fellowship in partnership with the GIAHS Center, DPIM-Management Information System, and Department of Research and Development.
To formalize future endeavors, IFSU and the University of Tartu are now actively working towards establishing an academic cooperation agreement that encompasses academic, research, and cultural partnerships.
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