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.