Sunday, March 28, 2010


March has literally sprouted wings and just flown by. Yeah, it's true.

Last week I attended a short PNVSCA (Philipppines National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency) conference in Cebu. Yep, yet another acronym to learn in this country. Between the Philippine government and Peace Corps, no letter is left without deeper meaning. Anyways, it was a chance to see some other PC volunteers that I hadn't seen in a while, sleep with aircon, and meet other volunteers from different countries that are also volunteering in the Philippines. Korea, Japan, Australia, and Germany all had respresentatives present.

Last night was also a momentous occasion... graduation! I remember last year coming back from the ceremony, at midnight, and thinking "yeah, I'll definitely be sick next year at graduation time." Well, I forgot, and ended up going again. This year I came back thinking, "10:30 pm is better than midnight, and WOW, don't ever have to go to one of those again!" We had 70 graduating seniors, so the program lasted from 6:00-10:30.

My favorite part of graduation, aside from the end, is watching what must be a universal tendency for teenage students to get annoyed with their parents. It's a tradition here for the parents to also come up on stage when their senior walks to give them their cap and have pictures taken and then shake hands with the administrators and DepEd representative, and I know I saw a couple eye-rolls from students when parents couldn't figure out the front of the cap, or better yet, when they also had an added congratulatory garland to put around their son or daughter's neck and they got so flustered up on stage that they forgot to put it on first... leaving them trying to put this tiny necklace on around their kid's big ol' square topped hat. It's like a thought bubble pops up above the graduate's head saying, "Oh, please, just get this done so I can sit down!" It was cute.

Now for the rest of March. Yep, it's the end of the month so I'm definitely waiting on payday. Aaaand, as soon as the month is over, I get to have a visit from my mom and sister. :) So the faster March can fly the better!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kindie, my next suggestion will be Condie

Take a step back in time with me. A few weeks ago my friend Megan came down to visit for the weekend. During that time my host mom, who is the head nurse of the rural health clinic and pretty much in charge of all births that occur in the town, told us that there was a lady in the clinic delivering her baby. We immediately suggested that they should combine Megan and Connie into Cegan for the baby's name. JOKE LANG.

Step back into today, I'm standing on the side of the road waiting to catch a van into Baybay when a lady calls me over and says, "This is my baby Cegan! Cegan Dave! You're dad's name is Dave right?" Why yes, yes his name is Dave. I guess my host mom had added on that part on her own. And yet another thing I enjoy about the Philippines!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Inopacan Central School

taking down Christmas decorations in the new library room

scrubbing and cleaning at parent's work day, March 12, 2010

The time as come. The time has come for Connie to get off her butt and do another project. :)

So this month I've begun working with Inopacan Central School on their library. I'm not sure if it's because this is an elementary school, I've gotten more experience in dealing with library fundraising, or the parents are just more comfortable with me now that I've been living here for over a year, but MAN! this project is seriously rocking right now. During the past week, Central School has held a parent meeting to inform and brainstorm on how to best deal with the library needs it has. Their decision: a library committee. Last Thursday we held the first meeting, which drew out 6 parents and 2 teacher representatives. I was thoroughly impressed by the turnout. They elected officers for their committee, talked about what makes a "working library" and using the basic steps of Plan, Organize, Act, and Evaluate, have started to create an action plan for the immediate needs.

First on the list, as I'm sure you would guess, is funding. We've decided that solicitation, which on a side note, is how many things in the Philippines are funded, is the way to go. I've drafted a letter that parents will send to family, friends, and neighbors who are living around the world as OFWs, as well as a letter for interested donors in the community. We're hoping that their families and friends can hold book drives and send books via balikbayan boxes as we did for the high school.

Number two on the list, the room. This is where I'm most proud of the library committee so far. The room that was to be used for the library was packed full of old tables and desks. In the space of a week, the room has been emptied of all unnecessary items and cleaned by parent volunteers. Yep, parents showed up with their buckets, brushes, and soap and got busy cleaning up spiderwebs and the unblievable amount of dust that accumulates here. Within a week of having a library committee the library already has had a facelift!

So where does the library stand today? It is probably about 80% ready for books. We still need to work on sturdier shelving and painting, but those aren't immediate needs. Personally, I need to work on a library education program for not only the students but also the adult leaders so they can be aware of all of the amazing possibilities a library brings with it, and lastly, I'm going to work on enjoying being in an elementary school again and getting to know the parents again. I really feel like this project, combined with working at the high school, is going to be a special, memory making way to end my last few months in Inopacan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hoover, Connie. "Thank You Again." Leyte: Can You Read Me? Publishing, 2010.

I know it's been awhile since I talked about the library project that we've worked on at INHS, but that's because it was so successful that I at times forget we haven't always had it; it has honestly just become a norm at the school. I think that is the most that any Peace Corps volunteer can ask for; the project fits into the routine of the locals.

For the past few weeks the library has been filled by fourth year students (seniors in American terms) who are completing their research reports. For the first time, they have books in which to research at school. For example, one girl was researching the Titanic. She was able to not only look in the Encyclopedia, but also found National Geographic magazines, and several non fiction books that were on the shelves. So compared to past years, where students had to travel to other towns to utilize the Internet, they can now spend time at school researching. I think it will also help cut down on the rampant plagiarizing that occurs in the school systems here. Why? Today I overheard that same girl who researched Titanic pointing out to another student how to site from an encyclopedia. In no way am I saying plagiarizing is not happening now, but at least now they're within shouting distance to hear, "HEY, WHERE'S YOUR BIBLIOGRAPHY?!!"

All in all, expectations have been raised in this year's research reports. Thank you for that.

Monday, March 8, 2010

sea urchins

This past weekend I went to the island again. This time I went by myself and got tons of questioning looks in response. I know, it sounds kind of weird to go to the beach by myself, but honestly, it's one of my favorite things to do. It's so relaxing and a chance to just sit in the sun and be still. The island is by no means empty, there are many families there, which I always kind of situate myself with in case I do need help, but I've gotten very good with "Oh, I'm very shy" or "I want to get a suntan," which usually gives me an excuse not to hang out with all the people who always invite me to join their parties. This time around, I did hang out with some of the boys who were there for the day. They were great.

They shared their sea urchins with me, which kind of tasted like raw crab.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Job Opportunity!!

It's March 5, 2010. The school year is quickly approaching its finale, and I CANNOT wait! :) I love my school, really, I do. It's super tiny in Filipino terms (only around 370 students), and if I ever have an idea of special projects or ideas that I want to try, I've never been told no yet. It's a great place to be. BUT MAN O MAN, I am SO ready for sleeping-in days and trips to the beach that are possible Monday through Friday.

Something that has been different the past few months at school, and when I've told people about it back home they ask me if they've understood correctly, is that since January 8th, we have had no principal or school head at the school. Since our school population is so small, we're not required by the Department of Education to have a full fledged principal, but we should have some type of school head who has taken classes in school administration. That being said, we don't have one any more. Why? There is an upcoming election in May, thus all promotions throughout different national agencies have been postponed as of January so that no corruption or questionable advances can be made in connection to the election. I guess if we were going to receive a replacement head, it had to be done the same day that we lost our previous one because that was done on the last day before the deadline.

It's been interesting to see how the school functions without the designated leader. Luckily, one of the teachers, the Officer in Charge (OIC), has stepped in and is doing the administration type work that is obviously needed at a school, particularly during the final weeks when graduation and national achievement tests are to be given.

so, how many more days till summer break? :)