Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Sworn-In Again

Some friends from my training site (picture from my buddy, Heather K, from WI)...My PC pal, Matt and the bottom, our first swear-in with the PC Armenia Tour, and to the second bottom left....our in with PC Philippines :)


Happy Thanksgiving.
Oh, alas, many of you are happy that I have finally updated my blog! (Smile). I know, I need to become more conscious of updating, but time just flies by for me that I tend to forget or put it off; my sincere apologies.

As the turkeys are quickly running away from their hunters, I am sitting in my room, sweating, with a fan drilled on my face. (No, I don’t have internet in my room. I type all my blog updates on my personal laptop and then post them). And this is the rainy season…yikes. Supposedly, December and January bring the colder months, which I can’t wait! After long winters in Armenia, I begged never to see snow for some time. I got my wish and now I am in full regrets.

But don’t get me wrong, the heat hasn’t beaten me, and I am slowly beating it; one day at a time. I have been able to dodge about three typhoons as well, but soon enough I will see a typhoon, feel a typhoon, and hear a typhoon.

I have officially moved to my permanent site and I am the luckiest fool ever, because it is an idea place. I live on campus with a faculty member, her son, and relatives. We have a wonderful time and there have been many nights I have laughed so hard my abdominals hurt the next day. I guess that is what happens when you have too middle children as the oldest people in the house (host mother and I). Today we had an amazing day together at the beach. I even taught some little friends how to throw a Frisbee.

I am working at a university and my subjects are across many disciplines. I am an instructor for English grammar, pronunciation, speech, teaching strategies and methods, as well as some journalism courses. I team-teach a majority of these courses, and some of them will eventually be team-taught to ensure sustainability, because as you know, we retain more from learning if we actually do it. The faculties are fun, wonderful, and always ready with some humor or to assist me one way or another. The campus is small, gorgeous, and very communal; where everyone knows your name…especially if you are the white female American :0)

The students typically come to higher education at age 16, a bit younger than the average US freshman. I have students all the way up to fourth year, who come into the university with average language skills. My job is a bit different than in Armenia, where I was taught beginner English, and here I teach more accuracy and fluency.

I also have some extracurricular activities up my sleeves. Soon, I will meet with others to discuss the future of some teacher trainings for village/surrounding communities’ teachers, as well, as being the head softball coach ;) Yep, you have read that correctly. Last year, the team had to forfeit the season because there wasn’t a coach with the ability to teach the sport. Once word got around that I had a ball and glove in my room at the house, I was soon nominated the coach and the girls will report this week. Softball is young here, so we will have some good times ahead…however, our season hits its peak in October.

Also, collegiate sports here are a bit different than the arms race seen in the US. No salary (I couldn’t take it anyway, because PCVs aren’t able to accept salaries), no extra benefits, students don’t get scholarships, etc; just for the love of the game. Needless to say, I am excited about this opportunity and we will see what happens…but first we need a team ;)

Though my permanent site is wonderful, I do miss my first host family! We had some amazing times together and the day I left was All Soul’s Day, a big celebration in the Philippines, as well as other Catholic countries. We went to the cemetery with a cooler of food and drinks. I was a bit skeptical of what was going on. Are we going to have a party at the cemetery? Well, we sure did along with everyone else in town! All Soul’s Day is one big party on top of the graves! Kids running around, vendors with food and light toys, music, big bingo games, etc; and we lit candles as well. It was the happiest All Soul’s Day that I have ever celebrated. And that just shows how the Filipino people…always joyful and happy despite the poverty and curveballs thrown at them.

Just imagine this: The Philippines is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire volcanic and earthquake prone region. It has two typhoon seasons encompassing the entire year. Because of deforestation landslides are common. The food crisis only gets worse for the price of rice and flour, but yet everyone walks around with a smile their face…it is amazing.

There is a Filipino saying, “Bahala na”, which means, basically, it is what it is, and it is in God’s hands, meaning out of our control. The saying is so powerful in many ways. For theorists, it is makes sense, for those who need answers, this saying might not fit your stereotype, but for the Philippines is it perfect.

I don’t really have any “exciting” updates. I am safe and sound. I love life. I miss Armenian dearly and dzez shat em sirum ev karotum: Dzez misht em hishum ev liqr pachiner@ u jerm grkumner anum em. (Kneres, filippinerrum, hayereni "typing" chka). For everyone else, I miss you too, send you many hugs, and wish you a safe an enjoyable holiday season. Enjoy the snow and hot cocoa.

Yours truly,
Happy Birthday: Lindsey H., Betty T., Anita N., Dennis B., Dom M., Brian H., Ellen H., Phyllis B., Jessica H., Mike F.