Monday, August 17, 2009

Audience Response

This post goes out specifically to reader Roots and Wings and reader BLOGable (a former student).
I received comments from both of them that I wanted to address, the first coming from Roots and Wings regarding my trip to Samar:
"That's unbelieveab;e I'd love to go to the Philippines as a volunteer. My grandfather's from Samar. I've never even seen it."
While I was in Samar I took some pictures of places of interest (these pictures are also available on my Picasa Web Albums page). I took these photos for you Roots and Wings.

You can read Roots and Wings' blog here.

As for BLOGable's comment:
Yay!!! haha... new books!!!
Thanks a lot sir for your
...even i have already graduated from the school i still wanna thank you for all of it!
This comment comes from a former student. I just wanted to say thank you so much for your support. I love working for the school because of STUDENTS LIKE YOU. You really make it worth it.
You can access BLOGable's assorted blogs here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Year Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of landing in Manila to start this Peace Corps ordeal. Looking back in retrospect for some kind of general impression is almost impossible. Such a blur of emotions, places, people, foods...
There have been times when I have wanted to quit, there have been times when I never wanted to leave. I am proud of the work I have done here. No matter the living conditions, no matter the social interactions and friendships, I am here to do work after all, they say to serve both my country and the Philippines. I am quite satisfied with that work and already feel like a success. Although development work in general, and Peace Corps specifically, ask us to quantify our success in reports, charts, documentation and meeting goals, it is the qualitative aspects of my work that really keep me focused and motivated. Its the support the students are now showing each other when one of them struggles through an English-only presentation, it's the books in the library, it's the fully functional computer lab.
Outside of my work, I have lived in Filipino households for 365 days now. That's 365 days of conversations, both in English and Visaya, 365 days of growing closer and closer to my family here, 365 days of rice, and seemingly 365 days of rain, 365 days of reflection, both quiet and contemplative and loud and emotive.
Of course I miss my friends and family back home, but I am a changed person. The Philippines has altered me in ways I can only imagine; the litmus test will be when my dad comes to visit in December. I have made some life-long friendships with other volunteers, seen some of them having left service for a myriad of reasons, some of them rooted at their sites, reluctant to leave for any reason.
I have made some friendships with Filipinos that have taught me a lot about basic human decency, the essence of commonality and what unites us all on the human level: the need to be understood and accepted.
I have had typhoid, ringworm, panuhot or my rib cage seized by my chest muscles, sinus infections and the occasional hangover.
I have never felt more complete as a person.
To all my PCV's in 267, happy anniversary. To all those who ET'd, you're here in spirit and I celebrate knowing you for 365 days of friendship in some extreme situations. To my friends and family back home, I could never do this without your constant support and proverbial shoulders on which to cry.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nobody Home

Seems like I won't be at site for quite a stretch. I just got back from a training of trainers (TOT) in Manila for the Tudlo Mindanao program, a program funded by U.S.A.I.D. and manned by the Peace Corps to bring 150 teachers from the island of Mindanao (an island to which we as Americans are forbidden to go for security reasons) to either Cebu City, Manila or Baguio for a week-long training. My training group specifically focused on Information & Communication Technology (ICT). Six of us, roughly, will be holding classes for the incoming teachers to teach basic computer skills. The basic assumption is that most of these teachers (about 70% last time the program was held last year) had little to no experience with a computer before. Therefor, our lessons will begin with using a mouse and, by the end of the program, using Microsoft Office products. I have never worked with this level of novice before; it will be challenging but, at the same time, quite rewarding.
Tomorrow I will leave for the island of Samar with my regional manager to scope out sites for the incoming batch (268) volunteers arriving in just a couple weeks.We will be visiting high schools who applied to receive a volunteer, interviewing host families, investigating needs of high schools etc. for the next three days. I feel honored to be a part of this selection process and that Peace Corps trusts my standard of viability for a site. Basically I am only coming along to give my two cents whether the site would be worthwhile for a volunteer for two years and how I would feel about being there myself. Very cool. As an added bonus, PC is paying for me to see more of the Philippines. We'll see how it goes.

Received the Boxes of Books from Emmy!

Yesterday we finally received five boxes of books donated to our school. They contained lots of fiction, non-fiction, National Geographic magazines and some school supplies.
You may remember the penpal program I started with my friend Emmy in California. She worked for an organization called YCS and with a group of high school-aged students that we paired with 15 of my students last school year. In a generous gesture, each of Emmy's students collected books in a book drive, loaded them up into balikbayan boxes and shipped them, along with their letters back to my students as YCS tshirts, to my school. I do not know how many books we have yet though students as well as teachers are excited to start checking them out!
I will be meeting with the penpal group today to distribute their response letters and tshirts later this afternoon. Their smiles were bigger than a crescent moon, and just as bright, once I announced the meeting.
Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps