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.