Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!

First, I hope you did a lot of gobbling this Thanksgiving! I definitely ate a lot this Thanksgiving Day, it was not the delicious Thanksgiving traditions I am used to but I ate so much that I was already tired around five pm… I experienced the “thanksgiving feeling” my body gets on this holiday every year! I also took time to think about everything I am thankful for in my life. Due to the fact that I am living abroad, a lot of my thanks were about how lucky I am to have amazing family and friends who support me and cheer me on in life. Nothing beats having a life filled with great, loving people! To my mom, sisters, aunts, and cousins… the ladies of the family, I hope you found lots of sparkly, bizarre, perfect, corny, items at Steins! The Christmas spirit is just beginning, enjoy every moment. For me, it just does not feel like the holiday season. I can hear Christmas music and see Christmas lights and decorations. However, the smell of baking Christmas cookies and the feeling of togetherness with family and the cold wintery breeze are missing. I may have to travel home for Christmas next year! To avoid getting too emotional, my holiday talk is going to end here. I hope you all had a memorable Thanksgiving and I hope this Christmas season brings lots of joy and twinkle into your life, embrace every moment- “Life is not about how many breaths you take, it is about how many moments take your breath away!”

I wrote a text to my friend this week that, and I quote said “I am freezing today!” December and January are the coolest months here in the Philippines. My community has been telling me that Christmas is in the air. The funny thing is that it is probably still 80 degrees, but when you exchange high humidity level and sunshine with rain and fast winds… I guess that creates my new definition of freezing. Stay warm folks!

Every day with my students and teachers at school is different and exciting. I have built good relationships with the teachers and students, many students in my classes are not even shy when I am teaching anymore. I have implemented a new strategy in my classrooms, randomly calling on students to share their answers, this sounds simple but it has changed the flow of my lessons and the atmosphere and attitude of my students. More and more students are constantly raising their hand, not just the top students with high levels of confidence. They are slowly taking more risks and giving it their best shot. Seeing their face when I tell them, “Great answer, thanks for sharing!” makes me smile and helps me truly understand the idea that if you create a welcoming and cooperative environment for students to learn in, great things can happen. My role in team teaching with my counterpart is to assist in making the lesson plans easier for the students to understand and implement techniques and activities that engage students and pave the way towards better comprehension and imaginative thinking. I never know what will happen each day I walk onto campus, but I do know that I am devoted.

Aside from team teaching at the school I am hoping to have an English and Environmental Club. Right now, I am brainstorming ideas, gathering resources, writing notes, and talking to people about the best way to turn these ideas of mine into action. The school year here ends in March. Summer is April and May. I am hoping to start next school year which gives me plenty of time to generate everything I need. Hopefully I will have exciting news for you in the future about these two clubs. I envision camping trips, murals, and lots of other activities that will allow students to learn together, work together, and have fun together.

Teaching keeps me plenty busy but there are other exciting things happening too. Some day next month I will move into my own place. I have been visiting houses for renting in the neighboring Barangys. I believe I found a great place for me to settle. It is a small house with green paint on the walls in a pleasant neighborhood. When I was looking at the different rooms, I got to the bathroom and found myself saying, “Whoa!” at the sight of a toilet seat. The house has to be approved by Peace Corps for safety and security reasons so it is not officially the house I will soon be living in but I have my fingers crossed. The house is in a town that is about a 5 minute tricycle ride from my school. This means that every morning and afternoon I will have to crouch and bend my body like a snake as I maneuver my tall self into the tricycle. I am convinced this is not a attractive sight so hopefully no one is watching me when I get into tricycles, wait… people are always looking at me. I have been wondering now more than ever before how many pictures of me exist in the world that I do not know about. The tricycle ride is actually nice thought because of the breeze and scenic views all around. I also have a plan to purchase a bike. I think I may travel to the bigger island near Marinduque to buy a bicycle next weekend. This trip to Lucena will also include eating Pizza Hut and drinking a coke float from Jollibee, two things I consider a treat, a little Christmas present to myself. Ironic that a person who is not a fan of eating as fast food restaurants is looking forward to eating at fast food restaurants. I am really craving a huge slice of pizza and a ice cream float. When I get cravings here they are even more intense compared to when I would get cravings back home. In the states, if I am craving pickles or cocowheats or any wacky food desire I can just walk to my car, jump in, turn the key, and off I go to the grocery. Here, it takes a lot longer and a lot more planner to satisfy my craving. Alright, enough about cravings and food that I want to eat. The food here is delicious though; I have only tried one thing where I found myself saying, “I am never going to eat that again.” No, not balut! I have also made plans for some of my students to come to my house on Saturdays when I move out to cook with me. They are going to teach me how to cook Filipino dishes! I am getting hungry now.

I am a fan of saving the best for last, from the best bite of food to the best news! I am sure some of you already know but just in case you did not, Joseph is coming to visit me!!!! I will pick him up in Manila on January 4th. I already have butterflies in my stomach. Due to the fact that it is impossible to write and express everything I want to because my fingers would get tired and some things just need to be seen, I am really looking forward to showing someone my life here.                                                                                                           

Happy Holidays!

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