Monday, June 29, 2009

This One's For You Mrs. Godwin :)

Wowsa, so school is off and running, and I guess you could say that things are just routine now. The small town feeling is definitely kicking-in, so any out-of-the-blue occurances quickly catch your attention and become the highlight of the week.

The big things the last week have been chicken harvesting and 4 boxes of books being delivered.

Chicken harvesting is done at the poultry farms, which the closest one that I know of is probably a 30 minute walk from my house, up in the hills behind the school. The only reason I can tell when it's chicken harvesting time is because of the major increase in flies, and when I mean major, I mean MAJOR! It's unbelievable how many flies can swarm around the entire town, even though the poultry farm is so far away.

The books coming in are unbelievable. I know some of them must be brand new, and I can tell some were loved dearly by their previous owners (those make me smile the most). Thank you to all who sent books, we're up to over 4,000 so far!

Due to a tropical storm that we had last week, the delivery man was really late in delivering the boxes. They're usually delivered in the early afternoon, but this time he wasn't able to come until 10pm, which is way past my Filipino bedtime. He also usually delivers them directly into the library, which is awesome because as you can imagine a box of books is HEAVY! But because of the time, and the school being locked, the boxes were delivered at the bottom of the hill at the Barangay Hall. This created a problem: how to get the 4 huge boxes of books up a hill that makes me out of breath when I just walk up to the school everyday. Solution: One of the other teachers volunteered to make the boys in her class to haul them up.

Questionable child labor, yes, but the job got done, and I bought them bananaque from the canteen as a reward. Win-Win situation, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

on the other hand

So, after my last post, I felt kind of bad, like I just focused on the negative. Of course every story has at least two sides, so here's the more optimistic, bright, sunny, "the reasons I'm still here" side.

1. The canteen- the canteen at school is the filipino style vending machine. However, instead of selling doritos, coke, and other high fructose corn syrup delicacies, it features homemade foods that certain moms bring up daily to sell. My favorites are bananaque, buko juice, and papaya with salt and vinegar. There are also casava cakes, other gelatinous rice goodies, and the peso candy. A trip to the canteen is the bright point of my morning.

2. The Library- The last past week has felt really rewarding for me when it comes to the library. There are more boys coming in to read during their vacant time that are from the lower classes. The kids are also starting to write down words they encounter while they read that they don't understand. We then go to the dictionaries and find the meanings of the words.

3. Filipino friends- It seems that a lot of the young adults in my town have left to either go to college or work in the large cities in the Philippines or in other countries. Therefore, it's sometimes hard to meet friends. I have gotten to become friends with a couple of my co-teachers, and I can hang out with my host mom whenever I want. This is probably kind of a borderline issue... I really, really, really miss my family and friends back home, so the friends that I have managed to make here are super important.

4. Fresh fruits and vegetables- It's true. The fruits and vegetables are very fresh here.

5. Simplicity- Things, for the most part, are rather simple. Filipinos count on their family for everything, and that's really cool to see. It's the type of simplicity that features a store that only sells glass, a store that only sells bread, and an actual junk shop that you can go to to find the obscure piece that broke off your electric fan. I really really like this simplicity.

So, there you go. Everybody I know should come visit the Philippines so you can experience all these wonderful, awesome, too cool things!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

i'm not sure if this makes sense, the heat may be getting to me

Lately I've been trying to decide what makes PC Philippines so difficult? It's definitely not the aspect of having to rough it, and yet, maybe that's it. When I was back in the states, I had all these expectations of what it would be like in service, I mean, who goes into a situation like this without doing some research or trying to have a heads-up on what's to come. Of course, expectations are shot out the window as soon as you leave your familiar surroundings of home. Anyways, back to my expectations. I figured that Peace Corps definitely meant roughing it. I imagined hauling water, no electricity, and bamboo houses. Yeah, if anything, I feel incredibly spoiled. I have running water, electricity, and Internet. You're thinking, what's the problem complainer?

But here's where the difficulty comes. The running water gets shut off for 12 hours at a time, brown outs happen periodically, and the Internet is dial-up style that shuts down unexpectedly at least twice everytime I use it. I know, you're thinking, seriously, this girl is complaining because she has all those things, but in a weird way, yes.

I think what gets to me is it's so similar to the familiar surroundings of home, that the expectations get raised, and are not met in the same way or fashion that they are at home; stupid expectations. It's so similar to America in ways, and yet, it's just not America, it's just not home.

You'd think that after 10 months in country, I wouldn't get hung up on things like lateness or lack of air conditioning, and yet, I constantly catch myself thinking of back in high school when they ran the air so low you had to wear a sweatshirt during the summer... oh the good ol' days. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

let freedom ring

So this past Friday was Independence Day in the Philippines. They're celebrating the end of over 300 years of Spanish rule. I think everybody would agree that Filipinos are pretty patriotic. I especially find in school that patriotism is naturally a part of the curriculum. Many of the reading selections from the book are about national heros and Filipino pride. I guess because of that I was expecting some big happenings around town. Overall however, it was a pretty quiet day. There were no processions through the streets, or insanely long speeches given by the mayor and vice mayor, in fact the only thing I noticed differently around town were the Filipino flags that the put-put drivers attached to their bicycles. Low key, kind of like it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

school days, school days, dear old golden rule days

First week of school is finished! WOOHOO!! I really liked some parts, and really didn't understand some other parts. So, to end on a happy note, I'll do the misunderstood things first.

Ok, enrollement here can be described as nothing but "open." And by open, I mean, you just show up on the first day of schoool and walk into class. You're really supposed to come the week before school starts to sign your name on a piece of paper and bring your last report card from school, but of course not all people follow the rules. So as of today, there were still people settling into their final classes.

Our class numbers have skyrocketed it seems. I'm sure they will fall off eventually, but as of right now classes are averaging 50-60 students, compared to last year's 35-45. That's a big difference when it comes to having desks and having supplies for all the kids to participate in activities. I did a pre-fix activity with the kids, and had to think of 5o words with pre-fixes... which sounds like it should be simple...but so not.

The final schedule was finally published today, Friday, the last day of school for the first week. I'm expecting a new one on Monday :)

New teachers were still being added until Thursday. And the teachers who were designated to teach at the beginning of the year didn't have any clue what subjects they were teaching until the first day of school.

Ok, onto the things that just consistently made me smile this week.

I LOVE the first year classes. They're brand new to the school and continually impress me. They're excited to learn, are always ready to take the lessons a step further, and get excited when I ask the questions, "Who wants to impress me?" or "Is that a paragraph we can be proud of?" Too cool.

The library continues to be like this new treasure. New students are starting to come in and check books out, and I'm having a story time for the community kids tomorrow morning. I'm excited to see who comes.

I'm fitting in with the other teachers more. I've been given a new co-teacher in addition to my old one. The new teacher and I haven't taught together yet, but hopefully it'll all work out, and the lessons that I have taught with my previous teacher seem to be going smoother than the ones we did last school year. I think we've finally gotten into a rhythm that fits both of us, and the kids seem to be settling in with it. I hope this continues, because it makes everything so much more enjoyable!

So, overall great first week. I'm exhausted, but I think that just means I've done all I can, and am ready for the weekend!