Friday, December 18, 2009

Final Update for 2009

College of Education Family, My Host Mother and Me

VSU Holiday lights and family

Trip to Biliran Leyte..Water, sand, and hikes

Our Turkey Day festivities

Mike and I at UNO Hockey Game, Omaha, NE

Reunion in Santa Fe, NM

Whit's Wedding...Hi Laurel!

Greetings and Gobbles to all of you!

Ting, ting, ting….the gentle rains have arrived! After escaping the devastation of the typhoons that rolled in the Manila area from August to October, the rainy season has officially arrived in my neck of the woods. Truth be told, I love the rainy season! The weather is much cooler, I don’t sweat as much, therefore my soggy body doesn’t threaten the students, the dogs tend not to bark as much nor mate, and lastly, it is my only sense of feeling “winter”. Currently, the temperature drops to about 70F, and for me, that requires no fan, no tank-top to sleep in, and believe it not, covers on the bed.

For the many advantages of the rainy season, it does bring slight drawbacks. One being, washed clothes (remember no dryers, everything is done laboriously) taking days to dry. Another, being random clothes you thought were dry in your wardrobe are now covered in slight mold as the moisture leaves its trail on about everything. Thirdly, the mosquitoes come out by the bushels. It has been quite entertaining watching the mosquitoes suck my blood, as now I have attained the education to determine if this little gal is trying to transmit dengue or malaria to me. Given the region I am, the odds of me contracting malaria are about the same as the Washington Redskins winning the Super Bowl this year. So dengue is the main threat, and yes, there is no cure. Lastly, my exercise routine becomes near dormant as the rain finds it common pattern to be in the morning and late afternoon/evening hours. Perfect timing, thanks rain

The second semester has begun (November) and I am very pleased with my class load. I am teaching, co-teaching rather, seven courses with seven different professors. I am so lucky, as the classes I teach are ones I am utterly zealous about such as Foundations of Recreation and Leisure, Motor Behavior Skills (Thank you undergrad and UNO for this knowledge), Principle of Teachings, Methods Classes, Nonformal education, and a science reporting class. In between classes and planning, there is a softball team to coach and to mentor, as well as a literacy program at a local village. Last but not least, is my favorite new activity, a reading club. Currently the students (all four of them) finished their first book, The Diary of Anne Frank. We had our club meetings after the assigned readings, and I was just blown away. The students, all females, age 18, were so passionate about the book and intrigued about the Holocaust. They immediate could relate to the similar adolescent struggles of Anne. They are so inquiring about Judaism, the Jewish culture, and the history of the holocaust. Their beautiful brown eyes lit up with such interest that it honestly reaches deep into any teacher’s heart. They even told me, that they have GOOGLE’d (yes Sam, google’d, not Yahoo’d) to learn more about the situation. Ahhh sigh….students becoming self-directed in their learning efforts

These young ladies have spread word about the book, that I have a long list of students waiting to read the book. I am going to make it a mandatory read for some of the future teachers. Thanks to Barbara Rubin et al, who have mailed boxes of young reader books depicting the Holocaust. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mass copies of these books! Based on my inquiry to the students, they state that WWII’s history is mostly taught from the Asian front. And as you may recall, there is still much to study from the Asian front and that atrocities that Japanese brought upon the Filipinos and other Allied Forces (ie: Bataan March). However, since European history during this time is not a focal point, I find it my duty to teach about the man-made calamities that were brought upon innocent individuals.


October proved to be a nice break, as I headed back stateside for my younger sister’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with droll and sincere moments. It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends through a special ceremony. It was the longest I had been state-side since May 2006, so I took every opportunity to see many family members and friends, which welcomed me to “the good life” of Nebraska, the adobes of Mexican food and friends in Sante Fe, delicious food and hospitality in Cleveland, and reunions and laughter in DC.

November brought the beginning of the second semester and opulent cultural exchanges. Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the College of Education, with a brief potluck of Filipino dishes, and traditional turkey day delicacies. Questions posed, answers resolved, food devoured. It was a great time. Thanksgiving weekend proved to be yet another beautiful weekend, where five PCVs joined together and celebrated a massive Thanksgiving dinner at another PCV’s host family’s home. We learned to kill a live turkey and roast it for hours. We prepared sweet potato casseroles, macaroni and cheese, cinnamon rolls, stuffing, deviled eggs, and so much more. Most homes in the Filipinos do not have ovens, so we were able to use the HUGE wood stove at the local bakery to cook three dishes. The dinner was well attended by everyone and stories shared. The next day, we went to a beach and did some hiking (see pics above). It was a nice break.

December brought the “Visayas Women in Sport Congress” sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission. I was a guest speaker and was able to connect with many individuals involved in this movement. It was a blessing to have networked with some many passionate people. Next up, was the annual PC conference, where there were a multitude of medical checks conducted, and a chance to see my “batchmates”. Some of them I hadn’t seen in over a year. A karaoke contest was conducted by my group, in which yours truly participated in a duet of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. It wasn’t quite an award winning performance, but a blast to participate. During that week we also sent our goodbyes to one of the PC staff members, Kavita, who will be now be working at the PC Guyana’s office.

The university dismissed it classes on December 18th, so I will be just getting some lesson plans together, cleaning (mass cleaning) the house, reading, and enjoying some free time until classes resume on January 4th. I am sure there will be some beloved hammock time, books read, and basketball played. Campus will be quiet as many people have left to spend the holidays with their families (students and faculty alike). I will celebrate the holidays with my host family and friends.

As the year comes to an end, I want to thank everyone who has continued to support me in my international endeavors. I am approaching my final year of PC and the time has passed with such alacrity. Though the Philippines has experience many tragic events this passed year, especially in the past five months, I am blessed to have such a small part in such a wonderful country. As many of you gather around the hearth for your holiday celebrations please kindly remember those who are in evacuation centers because of a threatening volcano, those who are attending funerals from the massacre held in Maguidanao, and those who are still homeless from the various typhoons that devastated the Philippines.

Peace upon you as the year/decade makes it final journey.

Happy Holidays. Maayong Pasko og Bagong Tuig. Shnorhavor amanor!

Top of Syd’s Reads for 2009 (read 31 books this year)
Blum, Jenna. Those Who Save Us
Desai, Kiran. The Inheritance Loss
Eugenides, Jeffery. Middlesex
Forsyth, Frederick. The Odessa Files
Ghosh, Amitar. The Hungry Tide
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Love, Pray
Keating, Barbara and Stephanie. Blood Sisters
Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy
Moore. Christopher. Lamb
Orwell, George. Burmese Days
Stewart, Rory. The Places In Between


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Carla said...

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