Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Yeah, that's a picture I took of my tv of the inauguration... and yes, I know how geeky that is of me, and I'm cool with it.
The new mayor, swearing in.
June 30... the big inaugration day here in the Philippines! Last May, elections were held for both national and local governments and today was the day many had worked so hard for.
I got to attend the swearing in for the local government unit (LGU) here at my site. There were councilmen who took their oath of service, and then the vice mayor and mayor.
Next I rushed back to the house to see the tailend of the national inauguration on television. Thousands of people came out to see Benigno "NoyNoy" Aquino III be sworn in as the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines. His inauguration speech included promises of honest, clean government and persuing and investigating leads of previous corruption by politicians.
The last name, Aquino, may ring a bell to many of you. NoyNoy is the son of Cory Aquino who passed away last year and who was also a president of RP. His father was also famous for pushing the values of democracy before being assassinated during the Marcos reign. As an outside observer, it seems that the name Aquino goes hand-in-hand with democracy, and all the values that many Filipinos voted for.
An exciting time here in the Philippines!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Anyways, we were having a conversation about what I plan on doing when I return to the States. I have some ideas about moving to Georgia to teach and go back to school. Her next question was, you're parents want you to go there? Meaning, this is your parents plan, correct? I at first gave her this strange look and said, a well... I'm 24, my parents don't really decide for me. She IMMEDIATELY busted out laughing, saying, I forgot, I forgot, you're American, you're so independent!!
In short, it's completely normal for Philippine kids to follow the plan that their parents have set for them. If I ask the fourth year students (seniors) what they plan to do after graduation, I often get the response, Well my parents want me to go to VISCA (a local agricultural college) or my father wants me to be a nurse. I guess maybe the thought process may be that if the parent is paying for the college, they also get to choose the course.... which makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.
But immediately after thinking that makes sense, I think how I never asked my parents if it's ok if I became a teacher. I don't think I ever even thought to ask them. I definitely ask my parents for their input, and usually take their words into consideration when I make major life choices, but I don't sit and wait for them to make all my plans... cause let's face it, I so would not be on the tailend of my Peace Corps experience if it had been up to my parents to sign me up! :)
Final thought: I didn't think about it so much before I left home, but if I had to pick one word to describe Americans, it would be INDEPENDENT.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It wasn't too bad, slightly chaotic at first, but I thought things quickly settled down as students figured out what was going on. There were still students who I saw that didn't know if they had passed the year before... I refrained from saying, "Well if you don't know, I'm going to go with a big fat NO!" I mean really, seriously? I let the other teacher answer that one...
Numbers were high, but still not as high as other high schools in this area. I'm not sure what the final total for the school is, but I do know that in the two first year classes there are 70 students and then in the one second year class there are 68. Other larger schools will have more sections (or in other words more classes per grade level), but we have a limited number of teachers, so one big ol' class will have to be. Obviously, it's tight quarters in the one second year class. Plus with the only one electric fan it's kind of miserable. I feel bad for the students, sitting on top of each other basically, and then the heat and humidity just make you feel like you're in a can of sardines.
Happily, the first year kids were pretty open and almost talkative when it came time to introduce the foreign teacher. It's so much more fun when people will make eye contact with you! :)
I also got over to the elementary school to check on their new library. We're off to a good start! Fortunately, the Librarian's course load was lightened (she was in charge of a content class, the canteen, and the library), so now she was given 2 vacant hours to use for the library. I'm also able to visit each day in the afternoon, so the library will be able to have kids at least for 3 hours a day. That is a huge accomplishment.
Today, a little kid named Andre wanted to check out a book about dinosaurs. Some of them are getting really excited. It's a fun thing to see! :)
Monday, June 14, 2010
In all honesty, I'm pretty lucky. Monday was our first day back to school, but another big THANKS to GMA for making it a holiday! Yeah, that's right, you heard me. The first day of school was turned into a holiday and school was canceled. Saturday happened to be the Philippine Independence Day, so the day off of work was transfered to the following Monday. Gotta love it.
New this year in the world of Deped (the Department of Education) is the trial run of sex education in selected public schools. This was announced to me by one of my students who came to my house and greeted me with a big "Ma'am Connie, We're going to learn about sex education!" Oh man, so glad I'm not in charge of teaching THAT class. Like some in the States, there are a large number of people here, including church officials, who do not agree with this new plan. Here's an article that features the island that I live on... to give it a more local perspective. It will be interesting to see if this will make it past the first year and what effect it has on statistics.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring. My guess is HUGE numbers of students on Tuesday; them all dressed in their spanking white uniform shirts and primply ironed plaid skirts and pressed blue pants. I'm excited to meet the new first year students, and am expecting to go back to those "who are you?... I have to talk to an american teacher?...NOSEBLEED!" moments again. ('nosebleed' is sometimes used as an excuse when the students are unsure of what to say and want to get out of answering). But that stage will pass, just like last years did, and soon we'll all be one big ol' happy family. I really hope it's a good first day!
Friday, June 11, 2010
This wedding was for a girl who grew up in the town where I live. I'd never met her, but like most of my social events, I got in because of my host mom. It was a really nice wedding, with beautiful imported flowers, and a huge reception in a local casino. The picture below is the bride and groom with their sponsors. I think the groom is a seamen, and they're planning on moving to Canada.
The reception was VERY westernized, and lots of fun! They had a MC who tried really hard to get the crowd energized, two huge buffet lines, live singers, and a photo booth set up outside for guests to get momentos of the couple's special day... oh, and margaritas! :) The cake below blew me away. It had fondant icing, multiflavor layers, and best of all, they actually cute it and served it at the reception! I've found that it's often the tendency for the families to save the cake for AFTER the reception... which leaves me without the sugar buzz I was hoping for.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
We set up shop at Inopacan Central School! This week included lots of set-up preparation, and then teachers, their children, and some of my awesome high school girls coming to volunteer in the labeling of books. Luckily my students have PLENTY of experience when it comes to labeling, recording, and organizing books! :) I was really proud of them for coming to help.
We separated the books into four simple categories: fiction, non-fiction, reference, and teacher resources. Each section is given a tag with a color (red, green, or white) and a number. To keep the system easy and practical for the librarian and parent volunteers we kept the numbering simple. Each category starts with 1 and then continues open ended. So there is a F-1, NF-1, and TR-1. Our town doesn't have Internet yet, so this works for now. Perhaps when the slow Internet train finally comes to town we can upgrade to an online book catalogue. But for now, we have a notebook catalogue that gives titles, authors, and book number. Not quite the New York Public Library or anything, but I'm proud of it!
Here are the reference and teacher resource books. I'm hoping to get teachers interested in this special section we created for them. I put some of the American text-books and all the teaching books that Peace Corps supplied us as trainees... hopefully they're not going to ask for those back... so that teachers can have alternate resources. This will be a great source for graphic organizers, pictures, and up-dated information. I know some teachers are hesitant to try "new," yeah... it's not just American teachers!!! :) so I made a Library Request Form that teachers can fill out if they are looking for specific information. That way until they are familiar with the books and feel comfortable in the library, I can help them with locating what they're looking for. Again, hopefully this will work as well as I'm imagining.
The fiction section. We keep the bottom level of windows closed, because little hands fit through them so perfectly, as do the books when turned sideways. On a interior design sidenote, the curtains... so Filipino :) A lot of houses will have the curtains knotted like that to let the breeze in. I can never get the knot to look so perfect. Mine always look crooked, but then all you have to do is just kind of scrunch your eyes and turn you head to the side and they look as good as when my host mom or students tie them.
To familiarize the teachers with the new library we held a seminar on Thursday. Unfortunately attendance was on the low side. As I mentioned before, teachers were in charge of running the election poles, well they're also incharge of collecting the numbers for the census. So this week many of the teachers were completing their forms and visiting around town in order to find out the number of residences.
The next steps, raising funds from local community memebers in order to buy the grills on the outside of the windows, get an electric fan that works (ok, let's be honest, that's at the top fo the shopping list!), searching for Filipino books, and having parent and high school volunteers sign-up to help lead story-time and reading buddies.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
This was my case, my sad sad tale of not having anything to write. I was thinking these lame excuses for my lack of writing when BAM, god healed me... here's the story:
An unsusupecting Peace Corps volunteer walked through her small town. She was walking along the only main highway through her site, a 2 laned road that runs the length of the island, and she had to carefully pick her way through a maze of parked pedicabs. The sun was shining high in the sun, making the volunteer have to shade her eyes. Finally she got to the shady corner of the street that she had to turn onto. She just got her eyes to adjust to the suddent shade when all of a sudden a woman carrying a young child walks up to her. She'd never met the lady before, nor seen the kid around town. She smiled politely, cause really, who would want to be known as the American girl who never smiles? Her smile was returned with a, "Are you American?" "Yes, ma'am. I am, " she replied. "Oh, so is she (the kid). Half American; her father is American," said the lady. "Oh, that's nice," said the hesitant volunteer. She wondered what what happen next. And then the volunteer's entire day brightened, "Her name is Princess Rapunzel," the lady continued.