Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nutrition Month

Did you know that July is the official Nutrition Month for the Filipino DepEd. Yeah, exciting stuff. Today was their big finale day. There's nothing like a school wide celebration. All day I constantly found myself asking, "Is this really happening?"

The day started with an earthquake drill (did I mention it was also Natural Disaster Prep. Month?) . This was interesting, cause in Florida we dont' focus on earthquakes so much. I'm told that earthquakes don't happen very often in this part of Leyte, but still, always important to know the drill.

Next on the program agenda was food preparation. All the students brought food items to cook for lunch. It was cool to see students walking up the hill to school carrying coconuts, grates to cook on, squash, and all the other little ingredients that come in clear little baggies that you can buy at the market. All morning I watched kids who are the same age as American middle schoolers cook over open fires, use machetes to hack open coconuts, and plant lemon grass and fruit trees. I kept thinking... this is more working than I ever did in all my middle school years combined!

I then got to judge the best vegetable and dessert competition. Finally, a competition that I really want to judge! Delicious!

The afternoon a dish garden competition (a competition that wasn't very high on my list of wanting to judge) and parlor games. The games consisted of couples dancing with a lime stuck between their foreheads trying not to let it fall, a drag competition, and then this one game that involved the kids trying to make the longest line by laying down their clothes and accessories on the ground. yeah, that game involved all guys with their shirts off, and several in nothing but their underwear. I didnt' even know what to say, fortunately the game had to be halted for the 3:00 prayer...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

darn you slow smart bro internet... (j/k, i really love you... see you tomorrow)

I'm so disapointed right now... I wrote a whole long blog out... and then the connection froze. :( Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

heads up... the planes here are small and weight overages are big

I've been thinking lately about what I would pack if I were one of the next PCVs coming to the Philippines. I know I packed a bunch of stuff that's still sitting in the suitcase...although I'm sure at some point I'll need the garden gloves and light weight fleece sweatshirt that was on the packing list...

I've narrowed it down to 3 things that I would say are the most useful, regardless of your sector. First, and yes, I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, you've got to bring a smile with you. Filipinos are just so happy and welcoming, they're going to want their guests to enjoy themselves. I've also found that laughing at things is just a good way to let things go. It's not always easy to adjust to a new culture, but smiling seems to help me.

Laptop I think is a definite. I know the packing list says it's optional, but PC is always e-mailing us and most places will have WIFI. I don't think it's really an option. Make sure you have an adapter for your computer charger also. You'll need a 2 prong one.

Lastly, forget the last thing because you need to have extra space in your luggage. PC will give you a huge medical kit, a mosquito net, a lifevest, plus a bunch of manuals and other books to take with you to site. I could have used an entire other duffel just to drag all that crap around the 7,100 islands.

Next, if you're going to be an English teacher I'd make sure you bring a good English grammar book that you understand and can easily draw information from. I just remember thinking that during my 3 months of training I had no clue what I was doing in the classroom. I knew the function of a conjunction was to hook up words and make sure they all function...and that was about it. The lessons here definitely were getting deeper than my School House Rock foundation.

I'd also bring card games, like Uno or Hit the Deck, so you have something to play with the kids. There's going to be a lot of free time at your school, and I've found that the card games are something to play with the kids while you can improve their conversational language skills...ok, it's not so much about improving language skills as it is just having fun. :)

I know it's basically impossible to do when you're thinking that you're packing for 2 years, but honestly, pack light. You'll have opportunities to buy any last minute items that you have forgotten or want to have just in case.

Oh, and one last thing, tuck a pack of tissues in your purse before you leave the mainland, cause it's adios to toilet paper once you get here!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

girls rule, boys drool

I was sitting in the library the other day, giving a silent reading test to five boys. The boys are in first year, and some don't really speak a lot of English. It's interesting to give tests to kids that really don't understand what I'm trying to tell them, just lots of exagerated facial expressions and hand gestures. The test had gone well, I had timed them and they were finishing answering the comprehension questions. The only thing left to do was staple their answer sheets to the data sheets that each student gets, and that's where I started to laugh. I let the boys staple their papers, I swear, this was the first stapling some of them have ever done. The stapler gets to the last boy, and of course, it jams. He looks at me like, now what? I hold my hand out to help him, but before I can get the stapler, one of the other boys grabs it. I hold out my hand to him so I can fix it, but then another boys grabs it. Yeah, each boy at the table completely ignored me as the stapler was passed up and down the table, each boy thinking he could solve the terrible delima of the jammed stapler. I could read their thoughts like their were quote bubbles floating above their heads... "no way can this girl solve the problem." Yeah, well, I eventually got the jammed stapler, banged it once on the table, unjammed the stapler, and may have possibly earned the respect of five more boys at school.

Thank God I was able to unjam it on the first try...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson

What would be my perfect night? HMM... it could be a night full of funny Filipino kids singing Michael Jackson songs and dancing to hip-hop music in a serious dancing/singing competition...oh and off course my perfect night would include a Michael Jackson Look-alike Contest. Last night, was the perfect night!

The school that I'm volunteering at had their annual Acquaintance Party. Each year the school holds a ceremony where new students are formally introduced, and new student government officers are sworn in. It's also a time where classes compete against each other in singing, dancing, "muse and prince charming," table decorations, and specifically for this year, a Michael Jackson impersonation contest.

The theme for this year's party was supposed to be a luau, but when the students found out that Michael Jackson passed away, the theme was changed to a hip-hop theme. It definitely made the party a big hit with the kids, and gave them a lot of ideas for how to be creative. The songs that they used for the competition were Beat It, We are the World, Heal the World, and then for the dance competition they used more current songs, like Jai-Ho.

My favorite part of the night by far was the Michael Jackson look-alike contest. These kids were awesome. So funny.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Double yay for Freedom

The 4th of July has come, and gone, and it was a lot of fun!

Although the Philppines has a 4th of July, just like every other country in world, it doesn't celebrate it like all of America does! Luckily, a bunch of us volunteers were able to get together for a BBQ. It was great to get to see people that I haven't seen for a couple of months, and eat some potato salad... yum! We got to swim, talk, some played football, and others (yeah, I'm in this category!) took a nap.

A cool fact, though July 4th isn't a huge thing in the Philippines, it is a holiday here. It's known at Filipino-American Friendship Day because it's when the Philippines gained it's indepence after being an American territory.