Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And this little piggy went to market

wow, so the last two days have actually been kind of busy!

Yesterday I went to yet another fiesta. Fiestas are done by barangays, which are certain areas of the town. I guess you could kind of think of them as neighborhoods. Each barangay has a patron saint, and when it's that saint's birthday they all celebrate it with a fiesta. The party is drawn out over several days, with each day usually featuring one or two big events. The day that I went, yesterday, was the Mass at the local chapel and then a day packed with eating. People host lunches, snacks, dinners, and more snacks at their homes and people circulate around the barangay, eating the day away. It's a pretty big deal and it's not uncommon for one household to kill 4 pigs and a carabao for fiesta. It's a happy time for Filipinos, not so happy time for the pigs.

Yesterday was also my first wedding in the Philippines. It started with a 2 hour service, which included Mass, and then finished with a reception at the local covered basketball court. There were a lot of similarities between this wedding and American weddings. The bride wore a beautiful white gown, they cut the cake, had sappy love songs playing, and a bossy photographer followed the couple around non-stop.

I did see some things that American weddings don't usually feature. First, the couple had people called "sponsors" who stood up with them at the wedding. These were not the bridesmaids or groomsmen (they also had those though), but were older people from the couple's lives that will guide them and offer support if they ever need it. Second, lechon. Lechon is a whole roasted pig that they set out at every major social function in the Philippines. Again, not a happy day for the pigs. Lastly, the couple's first dance included everyone in the audience coming up and pinning money to the couple's clothes. By the end of the song, they had dozens of peso bills attached to them. I really enjoyed going to the wedding.

Today I visited Inopacan's island, Digyo. It was a pretty overcasted day, so it was shady the entire time...so much for that awesome Peace Corps/Filipno tan! We headed back to the mainland around 3, and hit a torrential downpour in the pumpboat. Not so fun... But we're back now, and I'm eating Dove chocolate, so I can't complain. At least no pigs were killed during today's activities... oh no wait, they had pork for lunch. Sorry piggy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

And here's to you Mrs. GMA

Good news, January 2nd has been declared a holiday in the Philippines. This means, I can leave for the New Year's trip, without having to take annual leave days, which means that's one more day I can add to my vacation when I come back home. Thank you President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

The way holidays are announced is still kind of new to me. It seems like they're just called out of no where. For example, in November it was Bonafacio Day, but then because fell on the weekend the president decided that the following Monday would be a Holiday was well... but it's not declared until the week of. So when you're teaching at a school, it's just like all of a sudden, "oh, we don't have school today!" Not like in America where no days are taken off unless it's a natural disaster outside or it's been on the school calendar 2 years in advance. Just different I guess.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Noche Bueno

Yesterday was Christmas Eve, and there were some cultural exchanges going on!

First, I was able to give my host family a little mini-lesson on how to use a microwave. They got a new one, and I showed them how to make microwave popcorn. Anita, my host mom, was like, "You are an expert at this Connie," and all I could do was laugh and say yeah, I've made a few bags before!

Next on the agenda was a Christmas Eve dinner with all of Anita's family. I've never eaten so much before. They had crab, shrimp, fish, kamote (sweet potatoes), rice, buko salad (coconut salad), and actual Pepsi and 7-Up. Amazing. I'm so glad I was sent to seafood eating Philippines, and not yak eating Mongolia. :)

We left for midnight mass around 9:45, bringing our own plastic chairs. We got there just as the last of the cathederal was filling up. The place was packed, with people standing all around the outside of the doors. It started around 10, and went up till midnight. The entire service is in Cebuano, so I really don't have any idea what's being said, but you can obviously tell this is an important service to so many Filipinos.

After mass it was time for yet another meal... I'm writing this on Christmas morning, and I'm still full! This meal is called Noche Bueno, and is a traditional time to eat together as the Christmas morning begins. Once everything was said and done, it was around 1am, way past my Filipino bedtime!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So, this one is kind of a downer...

Things I miss:
1. My parents and family
2. My friends
3. Driving
4. Going Christmas shopping with my dad
5. Church's Christmas Eve Service
6. My mom's spaghetti
7. My personal space
8. Making my own breakfast and lunch, and telling my mom "thank you for supper."
9. Listening to music while I drive my car
10. Understanding the jokes that people tell
11. Going to the beach by myself
12. The Office
13. The first 15 minutes of Regis and Kelly
14. Waking up to quietness
15. Coming home after school and talking to my parents
16. Work lunches at Tijuana's
17. Regular refried bean burrito, no jalepenos, extra black olives
18. Crushed ice
19. Seatbelts
20. Butter crust pizza from Hungry Howie's
21. Grilled cheese sandwhiches with no pickles anywhere on the plate
22. Watching Grey's Anatomy with Kris and Kindie
23. Target
24. Playing sumo wrestler with Bekah
25. Painting Abby's nails
26. Christmas tags that say To Connie Sue From Santa that are in my dad's handwriting
27. The Statue of Liberty pose
28. Working in the nursery
29. Going to the movies with Tim and Debbie
30. Bobby saying, "don't make that face at Mom, Connie."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today was the Family Day and Christmas Party at school. I can't even begin to list all the differences between American schools during the holiday season and here in the Philippines. I'll try to mention a few though.

First off, in America it is the "Holiday Season" and in the Philippines it's strictly "Merry Christmas." The entire day seemed to be revolved around Santa and Baby Jesus. It's very interesting to see how religion is involved in everything. For example, the kids decorated a bicycle that is attached to a small plateform as a float for the parade, and the fourh year class had theirs decorated like a stable, complete with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

Another difference is "Filipno Time." This is one cultural difference that I'm definitely still getting used to. Nothing starts on time, and yes I know it's like that in a lot of places around the world but the American "Time is Money" mentality is hard to break for a Type A personality like myself. For example, the school had a special Mass scheduled for today. I was told that it was for students, parents, and teachers and was to happen at 7am. Ok, I knew it wouldn't start at 7, but when I got there at 7, expecting it to happen around 7:30 or so, I was shocked to see that there was only 2 students at the school. ok.... So people dont' stress about time, but my real question is how did every person in town know to show up around 45 minutes late because everybody showed up late at the same time. How do they do that?! They don't always come 45 minutes late, but whenever they do show up later than expected it's always at the same time as each other. I need to get on the inside track I guess!

Lastly, schools in America are lucky to get a holiday party in the classroom. INHS had a parade! Unfortunately it rained all day today, so we got to walk the parade route in the pouring rain. The kids were good sports though, and every student and many parents participated. It was nice to see the parents at the school, and try to match them up with their kids.

So, in short, Christmas is serious business here!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

cardboard box miracle

Since coming to the Phlippines, I have learned of the miracle of Balikbayan Boxes. Literally it means "return to homeland," and it's the means of shipping large or heavy items back to the Philippines without breaking the bank.

To begin with, many Filipinos will go overseas to find jobs. They are known as Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs), and they will typically send back money to their loved ones still living in the Philippines. By plane it takes 22 hours to go from Florida to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. You can only imagine what it would cost to send a 100 pound package here... yeah, practically as much as a plane ticket! So what people have done is create a system to solve this problem.

A person overseas will get a large cardboard box, fill it with as many goods as possible, and then ship it overseas on a slow boat. It can take up to 3 months for it to go half way around the world, but it's done for only around $100. The best part? The package is delivered door-to-door and the sender's receipt is a picture of the recipient getting the box!

As you can imagine, the balikbayan box is ideal for shipping books. There is no weight limit, and as long as the box stays together, plus I can get them to deliver the box straight to the school so I don't have to carry it myself, :) we're all set!

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!" said Gomer Pyle style

I was in the middle of teaching English I, second section today when all of a sudden I heard a drum roll. Now, in the States this may cause an alarm because the school yards are mostly silent during the middle of class. In the Philippines however, I've grown accustomed to strange sounds happening all the time; whether a rooster at 3:30 am, a dog at 4:30 am, the Cathederal's megaphone going off at 5:30 am, or even the kareokee singer I can hear right at this very moment five houses down at 8:00 pm. So a drum roll? No biggie.

Well this drum roll turned out to be the opening call of Teacher's Day! Surprise Surprise Surprise. I had no idea today was Teacher Day, nor did I have any idea there was anything called Teacher's Day. The best part? The other teachers had no idea either. The students completely put this together on their own, and it was amazing.

I was taken directly from the classroom by a student, and led to a stage area they had set up. There, each class read a speech and sang a song dedicated their class advisor. Since I am just a volunteer-teacher, I dont' have an advisory class. They did however sing me a song and speak to me. My song was "The Gift," you know the sappy love song from the 90's. Nothing beats a good sappy love song from the 90's!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tabang Pulihug (Help Please)

I am on a mission. I am on a mission to improve the library at Inopacan National High School. I am on a mission to improve the library at Inopacan National High School because I started a reading remediation program there, and the students deserve books to read after working so hard at improving their skills. And not just books, but books that are on their level; like chapter book series (Goosebumps, Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Animorph, etc.), quality children's literature (Maniac McGee, Shiloh, Bridge to Terabithia, Sarah Plain and Tall, Holes,etc.), non-fiction (books about science, sports, oceans, animals, cars, motorcycles, fishing, farming, receipes, etc.), magazines (pop-culture, National Geographic, Upper Room devotionals, etc.), old English or Grammar text books, even children's books (like Dr. Seuss or other beginning to read stories, to help students that are having difficulty with English phonics).

I’ve thought a lot today, well really for the past 4 months I’ve been in country, about how I could fundraise books. Ideas have started to form and take shape, most are still blurry and questionable about practicality, but one thing is blatantly clear; I need all the help I can get!

I’m currently considering the following:
· Book Drive- A couple people have offered to hold book drives for me back in the States, and I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate that! How cool would it be to have the time could align with a Scholastic Warehouse Sale :)
· PC Affiliated Book Drives- I am searching for these, and will hopefully find a source to help.
· Public Schools- I’ve started a search to find out what the public schools do with their used textbooks (particularly their English and Grammar books). If my understanding is correct, the SCPS’ website says they are able to distribute these books to non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. My goal is to contact the local Oviedo schools’ textbook managers to inquire about their out-of-adoption textbooks.
· Public Library- Again, used books… where do they all go? Doesn’t the Casselberry branch have a used bookstore? Maybe I could check to see if they ever have to clear out the shelves or make room for newer old books- that didn’t sound right, but you know what I mean!
So this is where I currently stand. Of course the next dilemma is how to get the books over here. It seems like so far the best solution is the marvelous Balikbayan Box. I’m hoping that the PTCA at the school will help with shipping costs. They seem like they are a very supportive group of parents.

Oh, and one more dream of mine? I would love to have a reading comprehension program that would kind of mimic the idea of Accelerated Reader. Each book in the library would have an index card with 10 comprehension questions for students to answer to rate their understanding. I wonder if it’s conceivable to have the kid or parent write possible questions on a card and stick it in the book when they donate it. Kind of a "These are things that made me think when I read my book that I'm going to donate to a Filipino student," type idea. Just an idea… I figure if I think of more ideas than necessary, maybe a couple of them will end up working out!

So to wrap up this astronomically long blog post, does anyone have any other ideas of what I could do to raise books? I really would appreciate any help that I can get!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Know Your Audience

In all of my teaching classes I always heard how important it is to know where your students come from. No matter what the outward appearance may be, whether it's the kid with ironed jeans and GAP t-shirts or the one with Goodwill shoes and no backpack, a teacher should look past the sometimes inaccurate outward appearances and have a realistic view of what the students' homelife is like.

This is defintely true for the schools here in the Philippines. It amazes me how economically diverse some of the residents here are, much like in America. From what I can gather in the short time I've been here, there are students attending the school that come from families in town that are very well provided for and then there are students from the barrio area that have to cross rivers to get to school each day.

So how have I learned the importance of the lesson from my education classes? There was a boy that I taught on Tuesday who was absent from his morning class. He's one of those students that is always smiling and one of the few in the school that doesn't giggle over everything I do... in other words, I really missed him when he wasn't there that day. However, at the end of the day during Remediation time, I noticed that he was there in the library reading the material with his mentor partner. I asked him why he wasn't there that day, ready to give the automatic "you shouldn't skip school" lecture.

He momentarily shocked me though when he said, "I had to help plant rice this morning."

Okay, so at that moment all of the reflections and papers I had to write in college about how to be sensitive to the students' situations came crashing back like a ten pound brick. Even with the little background knowledge I had of what a lot of the home situations are like for the students here, I was still taken aback to actually hear a boy tell me how he skipped school so he could help his family that morning make a living. He went on to tell me that they plant a hectare of rice, which is equivalent to 107639 sq feet (according to Wikipedia.) It's so interesting to hear the students talk about their lives.

There are some really awesome kids at this school... especially this one because he came back for my Remediation class! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hail Mary

So, I've been wondering what I could write about since the last time I wrote and tonight at dinner I got my answer. We eat dinner, and every other meal for that matter, together. It's the host dad, host mom, and me every meal, at the dinning room table. We had just finished eating our daily meal of fried fish, rice, and vegetables when I looked out the window and saw a candlelight processional coming through the gates to the house. Hmmm... this is not part of our usual evening routine.

I tell the others at the table there are people out side, and the host mom says, "You stay right here," and then she runs to turn the outside lights on and opens the door.

I stay at the table and just listen to her. As soon as she opens the door opened host mom started speaking fast-speed Cebuano. I had no clue what was going on. She stood at the door for 5 minutes, holding a giant sign/banner that the others had brought with them. Finally at the end I heard an, "Amen," and she returns to the table.

I wait a second to see what will happen and finally ask the question, "So, Anita, what was that about?"

She explained to me that they have a procession around the barangay (which is like a neighborhood area of the town) that visits a new house every night. They say the Hail Marys. The whole scene seemed very traditional and I could just imagine how the same ladies have probably been doing this for decades with each other. My next question was if she knew they were coming that night.

She laughed at me and replied, "Yes, they text me when they are on their way."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Call to Order

Obviously there are a lot of things that are different between American schools and Filipino schools, the biggest being the use of airconditioning.

I was able to see another big difference on Friday when the school had their Parent Teacher Community Association PTCA meeting. Both countries place great importance in the associations, and wonderful things are done through them, but the way they are conducted is slightly different. This was the schedule of Friday's meeting:

1:30- Time meeting was supposed to start
2:00- Time meeting actually started
2:00-2:15-Opening prayer and playing of National Anthem
2:15-2:30- Discuss how not all the parents are attending and set deadlines for when those who did not show up to pay fines (50 pesos per family).
2:30-2:35- Student comes in sings "How Do I Live Without You?"
2:35-3:00- Discuss the budget (this was all in Cebuano, but it got quite heated... I wish I had paid more attention during language classes)
3:00-3:30- Each teacher (all 6 of them) speak
3:30-3:35- Connie goes up and has to read a speech in Cebuano (again, I wish I paid more attention in language class)
3:35-3:40- Students come in and do a pop dance routine
3:40-4:00- The principal speaks and dismisses the parents.

It was quite interesting! They have the PTCA meeting once a month... here's hoping I won't have to speak again anytime soon!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lost and... Still Lost

I have learned the power of a small Filipino town. I lost my umbrella. I have no idea what happened to it, here yesterday and gone today. I told my host mom #2 it was gone, and she began a search that is so indepth, if she doesn't find my umbrella, she will at least uncovered the mystery of life.

What does this search entail you wonder? Well it began with her texting my co-teacher before I had even walked the 15 minutes to school and telling her that I lost my umbrella. Next, the text approach must have continued to every teacher at the school because throughout the day they all came up to me and asked, "So you lost your umbrella?" Yep, sure did! Even students began to question me about it. With the text approach not bringing any immediate answers, she moved into a groundwork approach: she came to the school. She wanted to know if I had found it yet and continued to tell others that I lost my umbrella. Yep, I sure did! She next moved the groundwork to a new location, the post office, just incase I left it there the other day.

As of 6:30 this evening, the umbrella is still missing. I have however discovered the intricate communication networks of a small Filipino town.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goal Number 2

So I actually had a real "fuzzy, warm, feel good moment" yesterday. That didn't sound right, I do have a lot of highlights here, don't get me wrong. This moment however will probably always stay with me.

I went the one other American's house last night for his birthday party. We are the only 2 white people in Inopacan, so it's nice to see him every once and a while. He's the only person that gets sarcasm here, and we can joke about things, such as how he's so happy to be an AARP member.

So I was there at his house with a bunch of other neighbors, and there were 3 kids there. I started talking to them, but one little boy was extremely shy. I get this a lot. I finally got the other two to bring him over and he took me hand and had an entire conversation with me. I was so proud of him, and then I completely fell in love with him because he said, "I'm very glad you are the first American I have spoken with." I told him I was glad to be the first American he has ever spoken to.

Many times, I hear a lot of preconceived ideas about Americans. Like we're all rich, we all know Brad Pitt, or we never eat rice. It felt good to accomplish the Peace Corp's second goal: to show the people of your host country what Americans are really like. Plus now I have a new crush :), his name is John Luis... I think.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

blah blah blah

I really hate it when I can't add pictures to the blog and all my entries consist of is more 'blah blah blah.' I've tried to upload pictures onto blogger, and I guess my Internet connection is too slow to do it, but it works on Facebook. So if you don't have Facebook, and might like to see some of my pictures from the Philippines, just let me know and I'll send you them through an e-mail.


Sige. Here it means, 'okay.' I felt like I was constantly saying it during my co-teaching today, which by the way was my first day doing it at my permament site. I taught with my counterpart, Mila, and had two First Year classes and one Second Year class.

The first First Year went great. The kids in that class seem to really enjoy having an American around and make an effort to get to know me. They seemed to really get the lesson I did on a friendly letter, and that was a great way to start the day. The day quickly went downhill during the second First year class however. They just did not get what I was trying to say. It was kind of a disappointment, but not I at least know that I'll need to try something different next time. The third class I taught, the Second Year one, was again a success. So at least I was able to begin and end on a high note.

As far as life in my permament site goes, it has its ups and downs. Host family #2 is awesome, and try their hardest to help with homesickness. The food is great, and some of the kids are starting to come around and talk more to me. It's a lesson to learn: you can't rush things, sometimes you just have to say, "Sige."

Friday, November 14, 2008

ask and you will receive

Well, I was hoping I could start a remediation program at the school I'm working at, so I asked, and they said yes. Where does that leave me now? Well, it leaves me testing the reading levels of all 330+ students at INHS. Let's just say that's a lot of students to test by yourself, your first week there. It's something to do though, and that's exciting.

I also got to check out a resort that's like 5 minutes away from my site, so now everyone can start planning that Filipino getaway! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well I admit it, I bought an Internet card that I can plug into my laptop and it gets a signal off the cell phone towers so that I have Internet every so often. I know it's weak of me, but oh well.

My first day of school was pretty slow. I observed my counterpart teacher teach a class of Second Year, and then the rest of the day I hung out in the library. Mila, my counterpart, set up a desk for me there and I began to help edit articles for their school newspaper. I also organized a reading/comprehension kit called SQR, I think. It has reading cards and rate builder exercises and offers a way to assess and track student's progress. I'm hoping the school will let me use the kit for a remediation class.

I also led the fourth year class. It was very interesting. I first explained what the peace Corps is, and introduced myself. Then I had them write their name, where they were born, a cool fact about themselves, what they want to do after graduation, and how many siblings they have. I collected their papers and then had the students stand up. I then read the clues off one by one and if the clue didn't pertain to them, they had to sit down. When one person was left I had a little conversation with them and tried to get to know them. They were very nervous to talk with me. We also had a conversation about how all of us are nervous, and we filled in a Venn Diagram to compare our differences. They seemed to be a little less tense by the end, but by no means are they just going to come up to me and start their own conversation. Hopefully it will come with time.

Another momentous event was when one girl came up to me and asked me what a certain profanity word meant. Yeah, not what I thought my first day would include! She just honestly wanted to know what it meant, had heard it in an American movie, and couldn't find it in the dictionairy. Thanks Hollywood!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

gobble gobble gobble

Well, it's time for the cold turkey. I leave for my permament site tomorrow, which will not have Internet, thus it's time for me to give up my Internet addiction.

I guess you could say I'm feeling every emotion possible: nervous, excited, scared, impatient, hopeful, and everything else under the sun. I know it won't be as terrible as I'm picturing, but it is going to be difficult to say good-bye to all the other volunteers I've come to know over the past 3 months, meet an entire new town, and then still not have daily contact with my family and friends back home. We shall see how long it takes me to adjust this time. At host family house #1 it pretty much took me 3 months to feel like I knew what was going on. I'm hoping this time it will take less since I'm more accustomed to the country and it's not such a huge culture shock.

I'll be staying with host family #2 for 3 months, and after that I have the option of either moving into my own house/rented room or staying with the family at their house. I guess it's too early to tell, but I have a feeling I'll try to find my own place to stay at.

Well, I guess it's time to go. Hopefully I'll be able to get back online sometime next week. Closing thought: I'd rather go cold-turkey than be a chicken and never do it at all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Swearing-In Pictures

My Counterpart Mila and I

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney

Provincial Capital Building where we were sworn in.

Sarah and I

The Swearing-In Ceremony

And it begins!

Yes, it's done, training is over, finished, no more, I can officially begin my 2 years service now!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


A hotel room in the Philippines, sitting with a group of over 70 Peace Corps trainees and staff, 2 days before we swear in as volunteers. This is my answer for the iconic question, "Where were you when Obama won the election?"

I know this was a very heated election, and I personally think that if we took each candidate and broke down everything he or she had to say, or looked at each of their styles and personalities, beliefs, and dreams of the future, we could find individual things that everyone from all parties could respect and admire from each presidential nominee and vice presidential nominee.

That being said, I can't describe the emotion and sheer joy that swept through the group as we watched Obama's victory speech. Everyone mentions how this is such a monumental moment in the history of our country, and I couldn't agree more. The only thing that I can add is that there was quite a cheer among the trainees when Obama mentioned people giving up the high paying jobs to make a difference... I just got my living allowance as a volunteer for the first time this week, it comes to a grand total of about $180 a month.

We swear in today as official Peace Corps volunteers, and I'm proud that Barack Obama will be our new leader.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Adventure Continues

It seems that over the past week we've been trying to fit all of the "we shouldda's" into our schedule.

So far this week I was able to ride through the Jollibee's drive-thru in a pedikab and tonight I ate goat meat.

I'd just like to add, goat meat does not taste like chicken and I was told it is the cleanest meat. Why is it the cleanest meat? Good question! I was told because pigs can get hoof/mouth disease and cows can get mad-cow disease, but what do goats ever get? Hm..... interesting point.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Big Fat Filipino Adventure

So, yesterday could be counted as probably the greatest day I've had so far in the Philippines.

Not only did I go to a cockfight, but I got to ride a carabao and visit a giant waterfall as well. First, the cockfight. I know it's illegal, and cruel to animals... but this is probably one of the biggest cultural events you can go to in the Philippines. First the roosters are brought into the ring so everybody can see them from the stands. This is when the most commotion happens, everybody starts standing up and shouting out their bets. Picture the New York Stock Exchange, and that's about what it's like. They make special hand signals; if the hand is pointed to the side or up it's the number they're showing meant in hundreds of pesos, a hand that is pointed down is representing thousands of pesos. Next they check and inspect the roosters, and finally they let them go at it. It's a fight to the death, and the loser takes dinner home.

Next on the agenda for the day was carabao riding. Ok, too cool! Willard, my host brother-in-law is from the country, so he arranged for my friend Loren and I to ride an actual carabao. They hosed it off for us, and basically let us ride it like you do a pony when you're a little kid; lead rope and all. His family all came to watch us, they said it was their first time seeing an American ride a carabao. We said it was our first time too :)

Lastly, we headed to the Casa Roco falls. It's this really tall waterfall, which required us to walk up the mountain, just so we could climb back down to get close to the fall. It was quite a hike... but the view was amazing.
It was a really good day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I will be leaving Dumaguete on November 2, and I've finally decided why I am going to miss my host family so much. My host sister and brother-in-law were driving me to a seamstress so I could have a dress fixed, and the radio started to play Hanson. Willard asked me if I knew Hanson... and I laughed and said, "Um, Of course! I was in love with them in 5th grade!"

So instead of mocking me or making fun of me like the rest of America would do, they turned it up and started to sing along too. Yep, it was like the Key West roadtrip all over again. And this is why I'm going to miss Dumaguete.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mission: Success

well, I woke this morning with an intense want to go home. The mix of malaria pill, dreams of home, the extreme desire not to do our community project, and a headache last night followed by a brownout all made the desire to ET very real.

The headache went away, the power came back on, I talked to my parents and sister who talked some sense into me, and now the community project is officially done. A sense of relief has come, and the day is going to get better.

The community project went really well! Jasmine and I did an hour speech about the 5 Steps of Writing. We took turns presenting the steps and showcased many ideas that the teachers could use in their classrooms. I started with a mad lib, which got the teachers laughing and it just kept going. I didn't mispeak too much, and I didn't have another horrendous speech class disaster (when I actually said in mid-speech, in front of the entire class, "oh crap, i lost my place." None of that, it went better than I hoped for.

So what will be my award for such a great class? You can find me at the local McDonald's, enjoying french fries, Coke Light, Oreo McFlurry, and free WIFI. I know, I eat McDonald's more here than I ever did in the States... but trust me, it won't last once I get to my new site.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

this little piggy went to the market...

My sister once told me that the strangest thing she had ever eaten was a cockroach... I don't know if what I ate today is worse than that, but its gotta be close! One of the little girls in my host family was celebrating her fifth birthday, and I was able to go to her party. The had an entire table set, lechon pig and all. It was quite the fiesta. This is when it happened, I ate the most Filipino food I have ever eaten before...dinuguan. Yep, that's right, pig's blood. I swore I would never try it, and yet today it just didn't seem that bad.

As time goes on, I can't help but think of all the things I said I would never do because it would be too far out of my comfort zone. For example, snorkeling (I don't even like to swim in the deep end of the pool!) and eating pig's blood (um... I don't even eat ribs because it involves bones), and yet after only 2 months here I've overcome these things. No, I don't know if I'll be the first in line for dinuguan at the next fiesta, but at least I know what it's like now.

Time does a lot of amazing things... but will enough of it pass for me to try balut (fertilized duck eggs)? Well, I guess I've learned never to say never!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

...and you wouldn't even have to pay for a hotel!

I thought about sending out Filipino Tourism spam to everyone I know, but then I figured this might do the job too:





And I know it's like a 20 hour flight over here, so here are also the links to several discounted airfare search engines (you will want to fill in Manila for place of arrival):




So... who wants to come visit me in the Philippines? :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Community Project

Our training groups are preparing for our community project. The community project is something that we have been planning for over a month, and is basically our opportunity to put everything we've learned so far into practice and give back to the schools that have been letting us come into their classrooms and work. After doing this assessment called PACA (which is quickly replacing the ESOL binder I had to do in college, in regards to how much I don't like to learn about it) we learned more about the school and its needs.

The project our school decided on was to do a teacher worshop about the top three priorities they expressed: reading, writing, and drama. We've broken it up so that each topic gets about an hour and a half, two mariendas (snack time), an hour lunch, and then we're out of there. I'm working on the writing componen. I've been pulling out all my old resources from college and all the tips I ever learned from Florida Writes. The big presentation is on October 21st, so we still have a little time to finish everything up. I hope it all goes well. That would be a good start and motivator for all the other projects we'll be working on during the next two years.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"thank you, thank you, thank you" said like Gran

Alright, today was better than Christmas! I went to tech training hoping they would have mail for us because they haven't delivered any in over two weeks, and when I got there not only did I get mail, but there were 3 packages and even more letters! WAHOO! Thank you for all the fun birthday surprises, and Halloween treats, and everything else. All the pictures are hanging up in my room, (yes Nick, even your jungle baby song), and every time I look at all the cards and drawings I can't help but smile. Ya'll definitely made it a birthday to remember.

The day got even better and better after that. Class ended short, which is good no matter what continent you're on, and I got some new books from the packages, so I went down to the Boulevard and read. I love days like that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

conjunction, junction, what's your function?

I rely heavily on School House Rock for my English grammar. That seems like that's a large majority of what I do in the classroom; teach grammar. I have to say, this may not be very beneficial to the Filipino children I come into contact with. I mean I'm somebody who still lets a word like 'funner' come out of my mouth. I may need more than cartoons to get me through this!

Today was a great lesson however. We reviewed 8 different types of sentence structures, most of which I hadn't heard about since 9th grade English. The class had about 30 kids in it and they all paid attention. It was great! For practice I cut pictures out of a magazine I had so the kids could write the different sentence structures about the pictures. I think they really liked it because I had pictures of Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, etc... I mean come on, everybody loves a Jonas Brother! :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Rocky Road"- said like Chunk from The Goonies

We got back last night (Saturday night) from our site debriefing with the leaders from Peace Corps. It takes six hours to drive from Bacolod to Dumaguete on a bus... and oh my goodness was it the bumpiest ride ever. It didn't help the situation that I had to go to the bathroom after the first hour, and the scheduled stop wasn't for another hour and a half. A full bladder on a rocky road is not a good situation!

Buses are a big means for long distance transportation, but they're slightly different than the ones in America. The bus will begin it's trip at a terminal, but it will make unscheduled stops along the way if it sees people just standing on the side of the road. So in that way, it's almost just like a taxi service as well. There is a conductor type guy who comes through the bus and that is when you pay, it cost 250 pesos for our trip back to Dumaguete. Some things are the same as in America, like this bus had an airconditioner on it that could reverse Global Warming, and I was glad that this is the one time I had my rain jacket with me. There was however, one big difference, the bus coming back had videokee on it. Yep, kareokee with a bus full of people, bumping along the rocky road; can't get much better than that!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Alright, So I'm an Addict

Some people's drug of choice is marijuana, others prefer crack, I however choose to use and abuse the Internet. I admit, my use of the Internet is getting way out of hand, like it's my lifeline to what I've known in the past and without it I might loose everything. I know it's kind of irrational and I'm really never going to loose my past, but all the same, it's really nice to be able to log-on and get instant information and communicate to everyone I love.

Some people give up their choice drugs cold turkey, others go through intense rehabilitation programs, I however will be put in a Filipino town that doesn't have Internet. Yeah, I don't know quite what to say. I'm trying to decide if I should wean myself off the Internet while I'm still in training, or live it up while I can.

Some people cannot overcome their addictions, I however am determined to. I'm trying to think of all the other things I can do: write letters seems to be on the top of my list, read (maybe I'll finally get to read all 2 billion pages of the Harry Potter's series), visit the beautiful area in and around my site, grade papers, actually practice my Cebuano language materials, meet the great new students and citizens of the site I'll be at. The possibilities are endless, I just need to get over this small hurdle in this big adventure! But I can't help but wonder... do they have a 12 step program for this? :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Today has been great! I've met my supervisor for my new location and we really got to talk about what types of projects would best be suited for the area I will be in. It was so exciting!

So far we have the following down as projects that I will begin within the first six months:
1. After school tutoring/remediation for students
2. A community outreach for adults who are interested in improving English skills
3. Library Development
4. Student mentoring program that will allow the high school students to find a younger student in the community to mentor.

They're all just proposals at the moment, but I'm very excited about making them realities. There are so many possibilities, it's great to be beginning such a great journey!

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Places!

Does anyone know about Inopacan, Letey? I think I'm going to need to read up on that!

Friday, September 26, 2008


This is the lowest number I've ever seen on a trike. Just like every taxicab in America has a number, so does every trike. I know I've mentioned them before, but trikes are such a huge part of the city that they deserve to be described in greater detail!

Trikes are made up of a motorcycle and a 2 backwheeled cart. The cart is bolted to the bike so it's one solid piece. The cart part of the trike has a roof, a bench that fits 2.5 Americans and then another bench that is directly across from the larger one that fits 1.5 Americans. But how many Filipinos can you fit in a trike? Well, there's always room for one more. The most I've ever riden with was 8 adults, plus the driver. It was amazing. We had 2 on the small bench, 3 on the big bench, 2 sitting behind the driver, and 1 tucked on the back of the cart.

The drivers will decorate each trike differently, and that's probably what makes me like them the most. No matter how many trikes you see, none are ever the same. I made it my mission to find fun ones today, and I wasn't disappointed. Here's a fun batman one I saw on my way to school.
Everyday you always see a different trike, and they never seem to get old. There's just so many little details about them; they're definitely one of my favorite parts of the city.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mac and Cheese

Is it possible for all kids not to have a mad obsession with macaroni and cheese? I truly didn't think it was likely, considering that was my major food group until I was, oh, about the age of 15.

An exception may have been found though! I brought out the velveeta mac and cheese that my sister sent me in a package, and the two boys that live in the house I'm staying at had no interest in it! I couldn't believe it! I couldn't even get them to try it.

I guess we're even, they don't eat the mac and I don't eat the fish with eyes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Under the Sea

It seems that I can always relate what is happening to a Disney movie soundtrack. First it was It's a Small World, and yesterday was Under the Sea. I got the chance to go snorkeling off the coast of Apo Island; and it could probably could be considered one of the rarest and most beautiful sites I have ever seen. I mean it was right up there with that time we saw the Little Grand Canyon in Georgia! :)

To begin with, we made the crossing over to Apo from Dumaguete in a large pump boat. The boat held about 20 of us snorkelers, plus 5 crew. I packed everything you could possibly need for such a trip: mask, snorkel, sunscreen, snacks, extra water, towel, another towel, I was set to go... except for the dramamine. Yep, I was definitely feeling the waves and have learned a valuable lesson. To my defense, the waves were pretty big and even the captain said he hasn't sailed on waves that were that big in a while. I guess a huge typhoon is heading toward the island of Luzon, and we were getting small rain bands from it.

The day was just beginning though and after a 45 minute boat ride we came to Apo. The island looks amazing. It was very mountainous and covered with coconut trees. There were also many rock formations along the coast and beaches with lighter colored sand. The water was turqouois where there was not coral; very postcard looking!

I was able to see all types of coral, starfish, jelly fish, angel fish, and many more fish that I can't even name. It was my first time snorkeling and I think I was able to experience the best you can possibly get. The area is a marine sanctuary and you could definitely tell by its pristine condition.

So as the song goes, "Such wonderful things around you, what more is you lookin' for?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's a Small World

I had a "small world" experience today. One of the other girls in my cluster is from Tampa and this whole time we thought how ironic it was that two girls from Florida got put together out of all the places that we each could have been sent. Well the world got even smaller today when I began talking to one of the other girls who came to the Phlippines last year.

It turns out that this girl is from Orlando! And not just Orlando, but E/NE Orlando! And not just that, but the UCF area! It seemed like we were on Google Earth and it was taking us from Dumaguete all the way across the globe until it finally zoomed in on home. It was great to mention names, like Oviedo Marketplace, Fashion Square, University Blvd., 417, and Chapman Road... and actually have somebody who knew exactly what I was talking about. How crazy is that?!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One Fine Day

Today could be described as just that, One Fine Day. It really was just a good day. I had language class from 8 to about 11:30, and I had somewhat of a clue of what was going on during it. (Somedays I'm ready to just throw my hands up and become a mute for the next two years, and most days I wish I still had my Yentz Bible from 9th grade English class because I have no clue what an infinitive is anymore). But today was a good language day.

Next I rode a trike into town. It's always nice to go into town, even if it's just to walk around. There's always something that I've never seen before. For example, today I saw 5 people on one moped. That is impressive! I also went to McDonald's for lunch :) It was yummy. After lunch I walked to PNB (Philippines National Bank) and got my rent money. Next stop was the whole reason I came to town: my new school.

I'm at a different school for the rest of my training, and the first day seemed to go really well. The school is much larger, but for some reason it seemed like the class sizes were smaller than the ones I had before. I'll be teaching in two Year 3 classes, so the kids are around 14 and 15 years old. The first class had about 45 students, and the second one was slightly smaller with around 35. They all seem like very nice kids.

Each class begins with the Lord's Prayer and then closes with another prayer. The girls wear a solid navy skirt (kind of 50's Grease Style) that come to their calves, with a white shirt. The boys wear khaki pants and white shirts for the most part. The classroom is very open to the outside, with only bars as windows. There is a courtyard immediately outside that seems to always have students in it. I haven't quite figured out the scheduling, and if the students have a free period during the day. One big difference between this school and the last one is the fact that the teacher stays in her classroom, and the students come to her. I kind of like that better!

The students always ask my age, with which I always reply, "Well how old do you think I am?" I know one day I'm going to really regret saying that back to them, but for now I'm happy with the reply: 20 years old? That's pretty good since I'm almost 23, right?! Now I just need to keep that up for the next 80 years.

So after school I walked back to the host house, which is about a 40 minute walk maybe. I kind of took my time, but it was a good amount of time for a walk. I like walking here though, aside from the sweating. But I've almost become accustomed to being sweaty all the time; that actually concerns me alittle. :) Ohs-a-well. Sweat and all, it was One Fine Day!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


This has been a pretty long 24 hours. Two of the girls from our clusters ended up in the hospital. One has a major ear infection that is wreaking havoc on her balance and is very painful, and the other has a mix of a viral infection and amoebas. So last night it was my turn to stay at the hospital and help them out. In the Philippines they have a term, kasama, and it's somebody who stays with the patient and makes sure all the patient's needs are met. So that was me, The Kasama.

I give both of them big props; I don't know if I'd still be here if I was going through everything that they are. They're both so brave and are going to stick it out. They're doing much better today, and I think one will be released to go back to her host family.

Other big news, I'm switching schools tomorrow. My new school will be closer to my host family's house, which will be nice. I don't know much about it yet, but should find out more in our afternoon technical training. I also had my placement interview where I was able to voice what kind of location I'd like to have for my permanent spot. I said in the city, but we'll see what happens.

So any ways to cure homesickness? :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Good Afternoon Ma'am" -- every student

Today was my second day teaching at school, and I'm feeling pretty good about it!

To begin with, the educational system in the Philippines is slightly different than in America. While America begins their public education when the student is five years old and in Kindergarten, the Philippines begins when students are 6 years old and in first grade. Elementary school then continues until 6th grade, leading into high school. The high school grades are labeled as Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, and Year 4. When a student graduates from high school they are usually around 16 years old. So compared to American students, the high school students that I work with are about the same age as seventh and eigth graders.

I am co-teaching with a Filipino teacher 3 afternoons a week. I arrive at the school around 1:30 pm and head for the first class. This first classroom is the last classroom on the left end of the picture shown. It's a Year 1 class, the students are on the younger side. There are around 45 students in this class. This is probably my favorite class to teach. They can be talkative, but they always settle down when I ask them to. Today we talked about main idea, supporting details, and transition words. I felt good coming out of this class; like my mission was completed for the day.

The day was no where near done however. The second class I go to is a Year 2 class, so they're slightly older. I haven't actually begun to teach this class yet, but I should begin sometime next week. Again, this class had about 50 students in it.

The third class is the most challenging of all. It's the last class of the day, one flouresant light bulb for the entire room, and no fans; it's a recipe for a long hour. The kids must be tired by that point, because I know I sure am! It's another Year 1 class, so a repeated lesson from earlier in the day. By the end of the day it's 4:30, and time for a quick lesson planning session with the co-teacher. I usually walk back to the host family's house then, which takes a little over half an hour.

It's been a great experience so far.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cultural 411

So I've picked up a few things during my time here:

1. Pringle cans are much narrower, making it difficult to reach those last few chips :)

2.You can't use the hamburger example when teaching topic sentence and supporting details... they just don't eat them here. Pizza works nicely though!

3. See a peso pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck! (they don't say that, but my day got better when I saw one on the street, so... yeah)

4. McDonald's french fries taste the same world-wide.

5. Merry Christmas! The Christmas season here includes any month that ends with -ber, January, and sometimes February.

Pretty cool stuff huh?!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

sinker or floater?

Have you ever thought if you would be a sinker or a floater? Today was our water safety training and luckily I was a... floater! Training consisted of us driving to this beach resort, putting on our PC issued life vests (they're the really cool bright yellow ones that they always have on the airplanes), riding out in a little pump boat into the middle of the ocean and then jumping out into the water.

Once we were in the water we had to swim with our life vests on, which is easier said than done! The vests have a tendency of going up by your necks, I know I had to look like a tropical version of the little brother from A Christmas Story. I'm glad there are no pictures of me floating in the ocean with that thing on! We also had to tip a pump boat and practice getting up and balancing on it once it was capsized.

I was really nervous about the whole training, got to say I'm not a big fan of water. But I thought overall I did allright. I actually laughed during it; we're floating in this crystal blue water with palm trees lining the shoreline, and all of a sudden we look like 2 feet away from us and see a tube of toothpaste floating.

Lessons learned: take a minute to enjoy the scenery, thank your friends again for buying you Chacos before you join the PC because you don't cut your feet on the coral, and always keep your mouth closed in the water because you never know what might be floating in it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

P.S. I love ya'll!

Today we had to go to one of the CYF's locations to hear a lecture on water safety and the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) in case there is ever a need to quickly evacuate the area. It wasn't something I was really excited about, but whatever. So I walk into the room and everyone is really excited... it turned out to be our first mail day!!!! YES! I know I should have mail, because my mom and sister said they sent me things the day I left for LA. I should have mail. I wait patiently for the guy to hand out the letters and packages... I know mine is coming! Yep, but then he passes out all the letters, and I still dont' have any. Worst feeling in the world.

But wait... as he walks away he looks in the box one more time and... yes one small stack of letters is still left in the bottom of the box. One for Connie, two for Connie, three for Connie! The day is saved!!!! So a special thanks to my mom, sister, and Julianne!! There's something so cool about seeing people's actual handwriting and knowing that piece of paper or card was actually in Florida. Don't get me wrong, I love the e-mails too! They're always one of the best parts of my day, and I feel so fortunate that I have that to look forward to. It's just a big yay for mail around!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Filipino Lawn Ornaments

On some mornings I walk to my language class. It's about a 25 minute walk, but saves me 8 pesos each way. Every time I make this walk I notice something along the way that has never caught my attention before.

The goats were one of the first things I noticed on the walk. There are goats everywhere! I have noticed that they are all baby goats however, and kind of wonder where the grown up goats are. Actually I don't wonder, but rather try not to think about where they have all ended up.

One of the things that I didn't notice until the other day were the cows along the road. I know, what's so hard to notice about a cow, but really what went un-noticed was the way they're secured. No sissy lassoing here! I did a double take the first time I realized that Bessie was tied to the tree with a rope knot through the nose. I still scrunch up my nose every time I think of how they must have put it through there the first time. Ouch!

So yeah, every walk brings a new idea to my head. It's never a dull walk to class!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Look Mama... I did it!

Yeah, so Saturday was my very first time doing my own laundry by hand! I got to admit, I was a little scared. But Babie, my host mother, talked me through it. I'll even admit this too, she basically did everything, but I did get in and try all the steps at one point. I will be going solo next week. To do a week's worth of clothes, with both of us working, took about an hour. Here's the process : Pump water out of the well and soak your clothes in one tub. Pour detergent or use a bar of soap and let the clothes sit for a bit. Next you start scrubbing, and then keep scrubbing, and finally when you're done with that scrub once more. Next comes the rinsing, my least favorite part. So you pump more water into another tub, start rinsing, then you dump the water. You have to do that like 5 times until the water finally stays clean. Next you want to drip dry the clothes on the clothes line, making sure that you hang them without wrinkles, thus cuting the ironing process :) That little tidbit made me pretty happy.

Lessons learned: wear fewer clothes and always bring a stool to sit on!

I being a geek had to have my picture taken during this momentous event. My favorite part about this picture was right after they took it, they said, "You're not supposesd to be smiling while you're doing laundry!" That made me laugh.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mr. Director Man

Here is our group with the Director of the Peace Corps, Ron Tschetter. It was great to meet him and his wife Nancy. He told a great story about how every volunteer can make a tremendous impact not only on individuals overseas but on the country itself. The story he told us specifically was how one day he was called at his office to meet with a man in a nearby hotel. The man he met wanted him to know that he credits the married PCV couple that lived in his country and helped him make his way through school for all the success he's had in his life. The boy who was once a shoe shinner in Lima, Peru was elected as President of Peru. Those PCVs made a tremendous impact on not only him, but also those of his country. It was feel good story and I really enjoyed listening to him speak... plus he gave us patches and pins.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This was when we first landed in Dumaguete City.
Our flight from Manila lasted only about an hour.
Dumaguete is known as, "The City of Gentle People."

a picture's worth a thousand pesos

So here is one of the famous trike/petty cabs. 1 kilometer is 8 pesos, so a ride into the city for me is about 9 pesos. ($1 is about 40 pesos).


Alright, so beets don't really kill parasites, but it sounds like something Dwight Shrute would say after hearing the parasite lecture I got to hear this afternoon. Here are some real facts taken directly from our health handbook:

-Roundworms may migrate, perforate, or obstruct bowels
-Hookworms attach to mucosa of small bowel and suck blood
-Female pinworms rupture, releasing eggs

So, I was pretty pumped after hearing that lecture! Our handbooks also came with some great pictures. They kind of reminded me of Katie's book from SIFAT. If you saw it, you know what I mean!

Fortunately, I'm feeling great physically so far!

Today I also got my 2nd round of shots, Rabies #1 and Japanese B#1. There are still many shots to go, but they really haven't been terrible. Nothing is as bad as that stupid tetnus shot!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you single?

Yesterday was my first day to go to the high school where I will be observing. I am assigned to a Filipino teacher who I will co-plan with and eventually pretty much start teaching his classes. He seems very nice. He kept asking me about American movies I've seen, and couldn't believe I hadn't seen The Mummy. I told him my favorite was Gone with the Wind, and he instantly said, "Clark Gable!" So we're off to a good start I guess.

Most of the classrooms are probably around 20'x35', but some are a little larger while others are a little smaller. There are 60 desks in each room, and at least 50 students in each class. The students stay in their classrooms while the teachers rotate rooms every hour. The high schools here begin directly after elementary school, so the Year 1 students (freshman) are 13 and Year 4 (seniors) are 16. The students wear uniforms, calf length plaid skirts for the girls, khaki pants for the boys, and white shirts for all. The teacher's uniforms are pink shirts and khaki pants, but we were told we didn't have to wear them.

The part that stays in my mind the most about my first day at school was when I went to the second English class in the afternoon. I had just introduced myself to the class, and there were a lot of whispers and giggles that I had to ignore while I walked to the back of the room to find my seat. When I got to the back the teacher finally said, "They want to know if you're single!" The entire room waited for the answer, like it was the key to all the world's problems or something. When I said, "No I'm not married," the entire room erupted into a roar of giggles. Yep, it almost felt like home for a second.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Malaria Monday!

Well, I keep racking in the firsts!

Today is my first Malaria Monday at my host family. Every Monday I have to take a pink malaria pill; I encourage you to eat a pink life savor or gummy vitamin in celebration of this wonderful holiday! :) My first official Malaria Monday was last Monday, but I figure it shouldn't count. Why? Well I was so tired, sleep deprived, and homesick that I really couldn't have felt any of the nasty side effects of the malaria pill. So I figure if I"m going to get any of them, this will be my first time actually having the nausea, upset stomach, hallucinations, or vivid dreams. I mean you can't have vivid dreams if you can't sleep, right?! I've been sleeping pretty well for a week now, so we'll see how tonight goes.

Yesterday I went to my first church service here. Mass was in English, with bits spoken in Cebuano. I followed along alright. I went with my host family, and fortunately they bought me a fan because it was really hot. Before I left I thought that being from Florida would give me kind of a heads-up on the weather here, but oh my goodness does air conditioning make a difference!

Second first, and hopefully not to happen for a very long time, a blackout! All Sunday the power was shut down, from 9am to 5:47pm. It was 47 minutes after they said it would be turned back on. I may have been counting the minutes :) I guess whenever they have to work on the powerlines in town they shut down all the power. I'll be prepared next time though, I've learned several places in town that run off generators. So the next time there is a blackout you can find me either at McDonald's, Jollibees, or the National Book Store.

Today my homesickness was much better. I actually didn't cry at all until this afternoon when I went to check my e-mail. I really love getting e-mail :) I hope everyone is starting to dry out after all the rain Florida got! I'm definitely thinking about you all. Tomorrow I'm excited because I will have my first observation at the school I will be working at for 3 months.

I know...another first!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a day of firsts

So when I joined the Peace Corps I knew I would be experiencing a lot of first; living on my own, living overseas, all those major things that you would expect. Today however was a day of unexpected firsts.

Basically every morning begins wtih language training. I thought before leaving the states that I would be speaking tagalog, but instead I'm in the Visayas region, which speaks Cebuano. So, the morning was coming to a close and it was time to go back to my host family's house for lunch. The language facilitator's house is kind of far from where I stay so everyone told me I had to take a petty cab back... and therein lies my first... TRIKES! They're stinkin' cool. It's a motor bike with a roof and seats. I feel very Filipino whenever I get on one now. I almost have the routine down and everything, first you hail down a driver, ask if they're going to be going near where you need to go, climb in, get close to your neighbor (I rode one later on that had 7 people in it, plus the driver!), and finally pay at the end. It costs me 8 pesos to get to my language facilitator's house to the host family's houses. $1 is about 40 pesos. It was a pretty fun and exciting first.

Another first was my encounter with my room mate. You might be thinking that Peace Corps Trainees aren't allowed to have volunteers, but OH would you not be thinking about different species! That's right, I found a giant lizzard in my room. This thing was probalby lilke 9 inches long, and looked like it jumped out of the movie Holes. Let's just say he gave me quite a fright! I ran out of the room and got somebody to chase him out of my room. My host family laughed, and so did I. It wasn't really a big deal, and I'm glad we all joked about it afterwards. It was a pretty adrenaline rushing first though! :)

So those were my major firsts of the day. I'm sure there are tons more firsts to come; at least I hope there are! Tomorrow should actually bring a few of its own; church in the Philippines!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

country code 063

Things I have learned so far:

I love my family more than I could ever have imagined

Life stinks without sleep

Toilet paper is greatly taken for granted

The Mall of Asia is AMAZING

Dumaguete City is supposed to be beautiful, and they don't speak tagalog

Cell phones in a foreign country make you feel so at home

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Made it!

I'm here, and I gotta say, I"m just a bit tired! :) It seems like we've been constantly traveling for over 24 hours, but it's been an amazing trip so far. We've had meetings and lectures pretty much non-stop and am trying to learn all the acronyms that they use... which is enough to create their own language. Thank you again for all that you guys did before I left. It still makes me smile when I think about everything.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rosetta Stone Countdown: 18 hours!!!!!!!!

I don't understand how I can be so on top of some things, and then push other things off until the last minute. Now I have to get 18 hours of this thing done before I leave, taking into account that I'm going to be out of town for a week during that time.

On a brighter note, a new Office webisode is supposed to come out on the 31st... gladly count the days till then. Did I stutter?! hahaha

Monday, May 26, 2008

So yeah, I'm going to the Philippines!

I know it's really going to happen now. I leave August 13 for staging and it seems like I can think of nothing else. Sometimes I try to think of what I am most excited about... a new culture, new people, travel? I've come up with an answer finally; while I'm excited about all those things I find myself most excited about teaching. It seems like my anxiety about the unknown of what's to come has its highs and lows, but whenever I think of actually going over there for a purpose, to teach English, I have this calming feeling. It makes me feel like I'm making the correct choice for what I should be doing. It feels good.

Holy crap, did I mention I'm going to the Philippines!! :)