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.