Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last update in the Bush era

Picture #1: My host mom and I eating Halo-Halo in coconut bowls
Picture #2 and #3: Apo Island, yes my camera lens is wet.
Picture #4: Our basic method of transportation
Picture #5: A cockfight ready to start
Picture #6: Hiking to the fresh water lakes
Picture #7: Filipino scene
Picture #8: My friend Sheryll and I harvesting her host family's rice
Picture #9: My first balut.
As much anticipated; another update in my PC life journey. For many volunteers, the experience expands around 27 months, but I have opted for the more untraditional route to be more adventurous and try the PC for an additional 27 months! Truth be told, I will be swearing in, again, as a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) on Nov. 7th. Many of my batchmates are excited, and for me, I just know how wickedly amazing the new two years will be.

But before I get excited about the future, I should recap for you the past month and a half. I did many firsts, only to realize that my once two page “bucket list” is only now growing rapidly!

I have become quite the fan of snorkeling was able to expand my knowledge of life under the sea, by venturing out to Apo Island, which is a top-ten scuba diving spot in the world. I learned how to dive with my snorkel and be so close to the vibrant life and color of my new friends. I saw schools of jackfish and every creature from Finding Nemo. (However, I think for meals, I have eaten some of the Finding Nemo characters). I can’t explain the beauty. The Discovery Channel and National Geographic do give justice with their documentaries of the coral and fish life here in the Philippines, yet on the other hand, experiencing with your own eyes, makes reality pure. (My friend had an underwater camera and I will get those pics soon to show you what I have seen)!

I have also traveled to a couple other islands for work with PC, realizing that more Filipinos communicate through English, as the native/regional languages are not commonly understood amongst each other. Every island has its own identity, which is fun to see, especially as there are over 7000 islands here, with about 4500 habitable.

Just last weekend I went hiking with some friends up the mountains to approach two freshwater lakes. Wow, they were crystal clear, and they looked like glass! There was something genuine slicing the kayak paddle through the water.

It was quite a hike, as it was more junglish than anything. Coconut trees, mango trees, vines and bamboo everywhere, quite different than hiking in the Rockies or Armenia.

I hope to go dolphin and whale watching at the end of the month and visit other white sandy beaches.

But yes, it is not always games and travel. I do work and study! I really enjoy working at the university! The higher educational system of the Philippines takes on many characteristics which are commonly found in the US system. Administratively and structurally, the Board of Regents and faculty system work in the same manner. There is a presence of college athletics, but it doesn’t drive the university. Competitions are limited but they do bring a good fan-turnout. Research and scholarship are valued highly at the university I will be working at, but not as much where I am now. Faculty autonomy is not as grand as it is in the US, and the focus on post-graduate programs has importance, though many go abroad for this experience.

I mostly teach English instruction, provide teacher trainings in active learning and alternative assessment methods, ESL methodology and strategies, research ideas and support, as well as help in the recreational and physical education departments. At my permanent site, I will also be creating modules with the department heads on a practicum for prospective teachers and enhancing the adopt-a-school program to reach out to the villages. Overall, my work crosses four colleges and many more departments and certainly there is a lot of learning to gain and give in the next 24 months. For the material idealism, I even have a couple of offices on campus.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and the concepts of Adult and Higher Education have become life-long friends. I feel that all my past experiences in intercollegiate athletics, higher education, and my Armenian experience have prepared me to do some challenging but wonderful work in the months to come. That in itself is super exciting to me.

I also have had the experience of seeing cock fights, a traditional Filipino Sunday event, and harvesting rice, which is muddy, back-bending, fun work. Well fun, I guess, because I and my partner only did it for a couple of hours, but supposedly produced 500 kilos of rice. There is no way we could work that speed for another hour yet alone days!

I feel very integrated in the community. On my morning walks or basketball games, the “good mornings” have been replaced with the Cebuano “maayong buntag”, and the basketball games have become the multicultural. Courtesy “honks” have been exchanged for “Hi Syd” acknowledgements. In all, the smiles of the Filipinos from the morning light to the shines of the moon are rewarding in so many ways.

Other than that, I am enjoying all the seafood and fruits. I have missed major typhoons, but have learned to love the rain as it brings cooler weather. I have become one with the environment, respecting the lizards, spiders, and other silly creatures. I have not become one with one member of the environment though…the flying cockroaches. Mind over matter, I soon will be friends with them.

I have tried almost every Filipino food, from balut (google it), to letchon (roasted pig), to any type of raw fish or rice fixing. Water is still my liquid though tea has provided the solution to many thirst quenching days. My dessert of choice is Turon (fried banana crepe) Halo-Halo (shaved ice, ubey ice cream, corn, coconut milk, jelly cubes served in a coconut shell), and of course ubey. Ubey is a purple root crop grown here in the Philippines. It is the only root crop or vegetable for that matter, which I have eaten as ice cream. All I know is that I enjoy this violet deliciousness. I do, however, miss my Armenian cheese, dolma, and lavash.

I am constantly providing entertainment with my language skills, as I mixed up the letters of the words, or I simply do not put stress or emphasis on glottal stops, which makes a difference in the meanings of the words, even when they are spelled the same. The word vegetable soon becomes the male’s gender part, or lizard becomes the verb for passing gas. In all, we laugh and learn.

Well, that is about it. Next time I write, I will be at the comforts of my new home, new faculty, and host family. More stories and pictures to come, and other year to wait for the Cubs to win the World Series.

Until then, enjoy the beauty of autumn, the crackling of leaves beneath your feet as you walk, the cool-cuddling weather, and of course the sites and sounds of football. Lastly, don't forget to vote is traveling over 12,900km; make sure your votes counts as well.

Ayo Ayu- Take Care
Happy Birthday to: Lauren Mac, Kathy Murdock, Cheryl, Jill, Suzanne, Stacy, Vanessa, Kevin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pictures. Looking forward to more of your adventures. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Mrs. Z