Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Island is Beautiful!

**I am just going to write each night and then post a massive blog message whenever I find internet signal!! J

Hello from Marinduque!!, my new home away from home! Tonight, I find myself very sleepy as I try to kill all the bugs in my surroundings before I go to sleep. Thanks to my Ate Elsa from my host family is Bataan I can kill mosquitoes and other small bugs rather quickly and effectively with my bug killer aka the tennis racket looking object that allows me to sleep comfortably. On a happier note, this island is absolutely gorgeous. When my eyes first saw the island, my current thoughts vanished and I found myself envisioning my future. I was beyond tired after a long week at counterparts’ conference, hungry because I missed maryenda and lunch… but, it was so neat that at that moment all my worries jumped off the boat. To make this scenario even better, when I peaked my head out off the side of the boat I was in awe by the number of Filipinos who came to fetch me from the port. Only two familiar faces stuck out in the crowd but I am certain that I will get to know everyone else rather quickly!

My first night and my first day at Mogpog Comprehensive High School… was, well, more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Luckily, my cell phone gets good reception and I have made amazing friends here that as I have learned over the past three months can talk me through anything that comes my way. I won’t go into detail why I momentarily freaked out but I will say that all the smiling faces of my students coupled with the chats between my friends helped me through the experience.

The school I will be working at is surrounded by mountains that I can’t wait to climb. When I walked up the rocky hill to 528 faces staring at me, I quickly realized that I was about to begin an experience that I will never forget. The students were shy to talk to me at first but that I got asked a lot of questions… some of the most common ones- “Do you wear contacts?” “Does everyone in America have blonde hair?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Can you sing?” followed by “Can you dance?”

September 20th, 2011:
Today I felt like a princess, a day like today would have been a dream comes true if I was still 10 years old. At the school, they held the traditional Marinduque ceremony- Putong. The other volunteer who came to the island with me was also invited. First, The DepEd teachers, the teachers at my school and many others sang songs for us. Then, they came up and put a crown with flowers laced all around on our heads while simultaneously handing us a bouquet of flowers- white and purple orchards. Next, some teachers had baskets filled with flowers and pesos that they threw high up into the air. When it first pesos hit the ground I was not exactly sure what had happened, but the screams from the crowd as everyone hurried around the room helped me to quickly realize that the loud sound was in fact money. To end the ceremony (hard to believe there was more, right?!) we were asked my Filipino men to join hands in a dance. This was most likely very comical for everyone who was observing because I am not a dancing lady. Anyways, the program was just perfect and like I said before it really was magical, and I guess it taught me that dreams can come true, you just never know when!

Grace Ann, a student of mine also sang a song before the traditional ceremony. She sang Hero by Mariah Carey. I had an “Aha” moment during this performance because I realized that the people surrounding me were going to help me through any challenges that may come into my life these next two years. As I became teary eyed and struggled to fit the urge to sob in front of everyone, I closed my eyes and put a big smile on my face. It wasn’t a pretend smile either, it was the real thing. As she looked at me I gained confidence that this is exactly where I am suppose to be.

The excitement did not stop there! After eating, we loaded up the van for a trip around the island. Gemma (my co-teacher) and I decided to join Catherine and her friend Ashley on a little trip around the island! Ashley is a film maker from the states who came for just a short time and has been filming all the exciting things us Volunteers get to experience. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with Catherine and that is how the two of them got in contact about working together to make a documentary about the journey of volunteers around the world. And, lucky for me I am friends with Catherine and live on the same island as she does so I may be famous one day after all! I would have been content just driving around the island. I am telling you this place is beautiful. The forests are not evergreen trees like back home; they are made up of palm trees and banana trees galore! We stopped at a historical church in Santa Cruz, another Barangay on the island, and climbed up the steep stairs to the bell tower. The view was just right My eyes could not decide what was more beautiful- the nature elements or the rainbow colored houses that together were picture perfect.

I did not expect so many great things to come into my life when I was taking my bucket shower this morning; however, I am so thankful they did! It is not yet 8pm but I am definitely ready for a good snooze!

September 21st, 2011:
This morning my new host mother, Nanay Linda tried bread with peanut butter spread and bananas! This combination is one of my favorites. You folks probably will not be as excited about this as I was but, she loved it! Almost every single day I hear the words, “Just try it!” so it felt really nice to be the one saying it and even better that the food was liked. She told all the teachers at school about it and now they want to try it. So now, the present I gave my host family has transformed into a little taste of America for everyone.

The rest of my morning was occupied by another Putong celebration in Barangay Matalaba, where Catherine lives and works. No need to repeat the awesomeness of this kind of celebration. I guess you will have to come visit me to get the whole effect, just saying!

After we returned to school I learned two things. One, Filipino students really put their hearts into creating some of the role plays and acts that they are required to do. Role plays are very popular in the lesson plans. The fact that they can act is just the beginning of how impressed I was. The students, by themselves, find time to get together after school, work together to create necessary props, practice ( a lot! ), add their own musical creations, and beyond to these performances. I think back to my school days and all of this was done inside the classroom, with the teachers help, and still some complained about not having enough time to prepare. Now, some might say that this is not always true and that is probably true, so this is just my personal opinion. Hey, I do need to add a little bit of my personal opinions into this blog sometimes, right?! AND two, that playing games with my students really is one of the best ways to help them practice English. I saw a bit of this in action when I was visiting Stacey in Spain and now it has come into my life. Some students asked me to talk to them during their free period so I said, of course! The chat turned into game hour and it was just a blast! Some of the other classes were jealous so now I have devoted my free hour, from 3:30- 4:30 to game hour and I am going to switch classes so that there is no unfairness happening.

Alright... These are just some of the random thoughts that I write down before I go to bed. I do not always have internet here so I hope this will work for now!

Love to you all!

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