Tuesday, November 18, 2008

City Living

I made it through my first week with the only issues being my aforementioned mentioned gastrointestinal setbacks. My new host family is very different than my last family. In a way I have gotten two family's that are exactly what I needed at the moment. The first one gave me just enough attention, beer, love, and space. They came on strong and then loosened up. The new family is very different. They've had two Americans before, so they understand the differences. They don't think its weird that I get up at 6am to run, that I don't like fish for breakfast, or that sometimes I just want to sit in my room alone. They don't seem to care when or if I'm home. They trust me to take care of myself. I choose the food I want to eat at each meal and text my timbang (the one who helped with the toilet) if I'm going to be out late (she then texts me back and tells me where the key will be hidden).

If training was designed to teach me about Filipino culture then I certainly saw a good glimpse of a typical middle class family. Now that I'm on my own I'm really cherishing spending time with my new Filipino friends. My new friends are also crucial because my time with them is my only time with people my own age. At school are all 17-19, but act much younger. The Filipino educational system only has 10 years so they're a little behind in terms of social development in some regards.

My school is great for many reasons. It offers the most affordable education in my city, which means that I am working with students of limited means. Most of them are working hard just to pay the small tuition asked by my school. They all really want to be there and are thrilled to have me as a resource for them. They're very sweet and eager to learn. We'll get along very well. My concern is with the faculty. The school keeps its costs down my only hiring a small amount of full time staff. Many of the teachers are part timers or retired teachers who are volunteers. They're also all old, which is cool. I love old people. I just would like some more interaction with people who are of my generation. I'm assured that there are younger teachers in other departments, but am not sure that my supervisor is going to be open to letting me out of the educ. dept. I may have to tough it out this semester, meet the whole staff, and then sweet talk my way to be with others.

I'm teaching 3 first year writing classes, one class on letter writing, and two literature classes. They've also given me a "Cross Cultural Communications" class. I have no idea what this means except that it meets on Saturday, which I'm not happy about. The only thing that makes it better is that I don't have Friday classes! My schedule is also good for me doing side projects. Right now I'm thinking about doing an English speaking club, a reading club (they read garbage here and I want them to get some good English lit in), and maybe some music or drama or something creative. I need to do some work to see if there are some bigger projects I could do in the city or my barangay. I've got a lot of time to kill, but I can fill it as I see fit, which is the cool part about this job.

I also just bought a guitar and am learning how to play! My clarinet is really unhappy here and will probably be shipped back home soon. Please drop me a note or something, let me know you're alive. Also if you love something make sure you put a ring on it (that's for you clines). OH! and I'm going to try and make your Tuesday/Thursday evenings (10-11pm for you east coasters) when I skype/AIM home. I'll be more available in February when I get my own place. So reserve that time. I'll give you my skype name too if you'd like and we can chat for reals. Love you all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Unexpected

Just a small personal anecdote for today to prove that you really can't have any expectations when serving in the Peace Corps. This may be graphic for young readers or total losers, so be warned.

In May I was invited to serve in Philippines with PC. I think to myself, "Okay, I can deal with this. It'll be like Malaysia. The worst I'll have to worry about is some loose stool." When I actually got here I was constipated like woah. Probably from adjusting to a totally new diet and whatnot. Understandable. Got to training and eventually got regular. When I say regular I also mean the most regular I have ever been (15 min after breakfast). There's a kind of pride this level of regularity brings.

So this last week we were at a conference, eating hotel food. The change of diet totally backed me up for 4 days--but no pain. No pain until I got to my new host family. Then my body decides to unclamp. Now, I'm also lucky because my new house has a flushing toilet with toilet paper. This is a big deal. Sadly, my little toilet was not prepared for all that I was packing and backed up. I've not fixed this kind of problem here so I have to ask for help from my timbang (housekeeper). It was a sort of disgusting bonding experience.

Coming here I was prepared to be pooping every hour. In training they prepare us for all kinds of worms and amoebas, but the idea of constipation rarely crosses their minds. I'm feeling better, but am also taking metamucil every night before bed. Who'd have thought? I love this country, but it is never what you expect it to be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've made it through training! Today is the day of our swearing in ceremony. We've spent the last week in a final birth-like push towards today. Everything that I've written about up until now has been in preparation for this moment. The language training and practice teaching has all been so that I could be prepared for my actual service. I'll be moving out of the hotel tomorrow and into my new host family. My nearest PCVs will all be 20 minutes away. I have my first day of real PC work on Monday. I already feel like I've done so much work in the last 12 weeks that its crazy to think that my real 2 years of work don't even start until today. I'm feeling a strange mix of excitement and apprehension. Its similar to the feelings at a high school graduation (again high school emotions). I know I'm ready for the future, scared of what that means, but ready for something new. Time to get dressed so I can give my speech in front of the ambassador!