Sometimes life goes by too quickly, but what if we took the time to realize the value of each day.
Telling My family I was medically Separated from Peace Corps:
After a night of not sleeping and staring at the clock waiting for a reasonable time to call my parents, the 6 o’clock hour of California the US finally came. This was a common problem for me as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) anyways, the Philippines is a ½ day ahead. My family is from California, and my nights were their days and vice versa.
When I heard my mothers voice, I only heard that of a cry, I couldn’t understand her words. I can’t imagine how it feels to hear that your daughter is medically separated, they knew I had already been in the hospital several times but had not been sent home, so in their minds they thought I was dying. I didn’t have answers for them, as Peace Corps Medical Office (PCMO) said they would answer my questions when I arrived in their Manila office.
My dad took the phone away from my mom and was able to speak. I found comfort in their desire to have me home and safe. That morning I was about to disappoint my community, so to find some joy knowing returning home would give my parents a bit of peace and happiness was what I needed before I went to school. I don’t think I will ever stop needing the encouragement of my family, my family is my heart. Finding the courage to go to the school for my morning meeting took all my energy. I repeated words over and over in my head of what exactly I was going to say.
When I arrived in the principals office I had prepared a speech in my mind to give to the staff, but my principal explained to me that she needed to explain the situation and that I should go home and pack.
My first attempt at saying goodbye to some students
With all the teachers in meetings, I decided to roam the school. I decided to start with the 1st year students and tell them goodbye. The first classroom I had was Year 1 Section 6. Explaining that I was sick and had to go back to America was something that was not communicated. They all said, “It’s okay Ma’am Davis, you will just come back when you are better,” its hard to tell someone you are never going to see them again. Many of the other classes didn’t have a reaction, they didn’t understand. Other students cried. Many feared taking a picture with me, and others couldn’t wait for our last picture together.
I went around to about 8 classrooms and decided that it was too depressing. Instead I went to my International Day speaking engagement in the Plaza. In honor of International Month, the local pre-school had a day to honor other cultures. They paraded their costumes around the plaza, and it gave me a chance to take some final goodbye pictures of the place I called home.
International Day in the Plaza
Finally the event started. It was on Philipino time which means about an 1hr late! It will be hard to forget the students in their costumes, their costumes were made with heavy materials and in the unbearable heat their mothers had to fan them in order to keep the kids from fainting. I was the “keynote” speaker, and I didn’t know what to say to a group of 3-5 year olds and their parents.
If it hadn’t been my last speech in the plaza, I would have just done it all in English, but because it was my last chance to try the language I had worked so hard at (and still didn’t ever fully grasp it) publicly. I had overcome a huge battle of mine, I have always been afraid to speak Kina-raya publicly, but I had no choice, it was now or never.
I started with Kina-raya and spoke for about 1.5 minutes off the top of my head. Who knows if I was coherent, but that 1.5 minutes seemed like 5 minutes of conversation! Then I switched to English, and that was a lot easier.
I then had made a poster and taught the students a Jack Johnson/ Ben Harper song, with my terrible singing voice I lead in song and made small hand gestures. Its not the first time I have used that song at a Speaking event, I always find it inspiring, that each of us can change the world with our own two hands.
After the International Day event, I saw some familiar faces resting under the small amount of shade I had been helping coach the girls softball team and had really become close to a few of the girls. While waiting for the event to start I found a few of them lounging on the grass. I told them that I would be going home, and they all requested that I send them new equipment. Saying goodbye to them was difficult, many of them wanted to be my favorite, and they would always ask me who it was, thus they didn’t want me to leave until I answered! Haha! Not something I expected, I told them, “Being on a team is like being in a family, you can’t love your mom more than your dad, or your anything sister less than you, you are like my family so I love each of you the same, and thus you are each my favorite.” They laughed because they probably didn’t understand what I had said and then hugged me.
Typically they play in the mud, in the rain and in the heat with no shoes or equipment. They have one broken helmet, but its too hot to wear it anyways. Their softballs are repaired with tape, and their bases with rice sacks. Spending time with these girls was a true highlight of my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I had played softball since age 5 through high school and never expected that one day I would get to act as a coach. I just want to throw out a quick thanks to all the coaches in my life you were able to catch a ball, throw it, and bat it and make it look easy—because I never could! Haha! Really I just would throw up fly balls or have to throw down grounders. The biggest lesson that these girls showed me is love for a game. Even when the weather was a monsoon, or so hot you could taste the heat, they never complained, they never asked to stop playing, the game was theirs to play, and that’s all that mattered.
In life I feel like its easy to make excuses not to do something because everything in life has an obstacle, but these girls not only taught me to enjoy the additional challenges, but to embrace them. Standing out in a mud “field” holding an umbrella during the pouring Philippine rain deep into the “outfield” and watching those girls light up will truly be something that I will never forget.
The Peace Corps has been something on my bucket list and was kind of the last tangible thing that I really ever wanted to do in life. Saying goodbye to the softball girls helped me create a new goal, to one day be a coach of some sort, in order to teach the lessons I have learned through sports, and to be reminded that you never stop learning from those younger than you.
My next blog will be about one of the most amazing moments in time that I have ever experienced. I don’t think the world or people could have been any kinder, or a person could have felt more honored. It has taken me so long to write it because I don’t know really how to capture it all in words.
Thanks for reading,
For my parents, community and friends in Peace Corps, being Medically Separated from Peace Corps came as a large surprise, as my symptoms the day PCMO called where really no different than they had been since the 3rd day I arrived in the Philippines. Many people have asked and emailed about the process of exactly what is Medical Separation and how it is determined, and how much control you have over it. I don’t have all the answers, but I can only share my case, Peace Corps Medical Office Washington DC looked over my Medical File in the Philippines, upon looking at my file and seeing that I had been the hospital several times and that my symptoms had not improved they decided it was in my best interest to return to America.
Medical Separation happens very quickly, I could have been back in American about 4 days from packing my room to the plane; however I had two events I had planned in my town so the Peace Corps let me stay longer. I’m not sure this is normal, but I only spent one day in the Philippines Headquarters office to get my paperwork done and then flew back.
When I found out I was medically separated, I didn’t even know what day I would be flying back to America. When they called, I didn’t know specifically what I was being sent home for, and my imagination went wild with worry about the possibilities they might have found during my last hospital visit; a visit I had kept from my family. My sister was about to have a baby and I didn’t want to stress my family out knowing I was in the hospital. (Shout out to Jaron—we spent our 1year anniversary in the hospital—the same place we were almost a year ago when I was in the hospital the first time, funny that we ended up in the same place, a true anniversary).
At that time the doctors told me they didn’t really know what was wrong, that I have/had extreme exhaustion. They told me to take a break from my work, but at that time I was really busy with my HIV/AIDS Grant and some projects at the school I was working on; it’s really hard on my nature to take a break, but I rested in my room for about 5 days after the hospital.
I waited a week more and then I texted PCMO and asked them if they can give me anymore vitamins that I’m not already taking, because two weeks after my hospital visit I am still feeling awful. Apparently this text message was the tipping point. PCMO realized that there was nothing more they could do for me, and they sent my files to Washington causing Washington D.C. to make their final decision.
It is sad to say, but staying in the Philippineswas a battle of heart against my body. From the 3rd day I was in thePhilippines my symptoms never really disappeared. I had my own complex about not being a good volunteer because I had never been camping or was much of an outdoor person. I thought the reason I was sick and everyone else was healthy was because of my lack of outdoor training. I was fearful of being labelled as high maintenance because I was in my own opinion very different from the other volunteers. I didn’t complain to PCMO about my symptoms and tried to function without medical help. My Peace Corps Language Trainer was the one who first recommended for me to go the doctor in October of last year, upon going to the doctor I was immediately admitted to the hospital, this was the same case that happened a few weeks ago. However, no one could ever really figure out what was wrong with me.
During my 14 1/2 months I had to endure other severe medical dilemmas, I had a case of sore eyes where I went blind in one eye, and the doctor told me that it was going to be for 3 weeks, luckily that didn’t happen and recovered fully after 11 days. I also developed a heart condition in which my heart was beating at an extremely low number of 30-40 beats instead of normal healthy heart beat of 60-100. I thought I could be sent home for each of those, and was prepared to be medically separated in June, however I tried my best to stick it out.
In truth I am extremely grateful to PCMO for making the decision to send me home, I didn’t really know how sick I was or what I was doing to my body until I returned home. Although I am still exhausted, I feel 100% better in ways I didn’t even know I was sick. Now that I am away from the Philippines, and not dedicated to my work I realize how much sickness I was suppressing. It’s nice to be honest about how I really feel, because before I was trying to cover it up so I could do my job.
For those of you who are Peace Corps Volunteers and are worried about Medical Separation, it took many illnesses and the ultimate realization that staying in the Philippines and being sick every single day was too much for my body to handle. You can also reapply in 45 days if you are better, however I think in cases like mine that would be really difficult as I have many tests to run and doctors to see and I am only on appointment #1.
My advice, if you feel like your body is under severe stress, speak up, while I loved my work and the people around me, its hard to make the decision for yourself because you want to stay and help so badly. What I learned about myself through this experience, I don’t want to limit my ability to serve others to 27 months in Peace Corps, but a healthy long life of loving and finding ways to serve elsewhere. While going home was not something I expected, my community, friends and all my families have been extremely supportive, because the people around you always want what best, and all of them could see that I was sick.
I have to trust God on this one. I had no idea I was going to be separated and I have no idea what to do now, but I know when doors close, windows open so I’m going to get healthy and then look for windows.
Thanks for reading,
P.s. I am very determined person which means when I put my mind something it consumes me. I was really determined to make the most of my time in Peace Corps even if it meant suffering, every week I thought to myself, I can make it through, just one more day or one more week. I think many of my successes in Peace Corps was due to my sickness, since I felt so bad all the time I wanted to do as much work as possible so the suffering would be worth it. I would have never made the decision to return home on my own, although the people who knew me best were always supportive of putting my health first, and to all those people, OKAY YOU WERE RIGHT! Haha!! And now you can really say, “I told you so.’ Haha. Thank you for loving me despite my ambitions.
Top Ten Places I need to go out eat still….
- TacoBell—For those of you who know me… can you believe I haven’t done that yet?!?
- Margaritas and Happy Hour at Chevys
- Movie Theatre Popcorn
- Coldstone Ice cream
- Jamba Juice
- Fresh Choice
- Baja Fresh
- Any Chinese Food—which is weird that I crave that because I didn’t really like Chinese Food too much.
Any takers?!??! Any recommendations!??!
Haha…now I’m going to go to bed hungry!
Also with all that food– who wants to join me at the gym!! haha
Thanks for reading,
* I wrote this blog before I heard the news today. I did a 50th Anniversary celebration that you will read about below, sadly earlier today 4 of the kids drowned in the same river we played in earlier, I don’t know which ones, but spending time with them, playing with them in that same water, its just so tragic. Please pray for their families.
50 Years of Peace Corps
At a young age I took an interest in politics, thus I ran for many student government positions. My junior year of High school I ran for Junior Class President. I modeled my speech after JFK, because I admired his words. I thought I was clever and instead of saying, “Its not what your country can do for you—but what you can do for country,” I said, “Its not what your school can do for you—but what you can do for your school.” I remember the auditorium bursting into laughter, except I wasn’t trying to be funny. I really believe in those words, I really believe that in life we should do things for others.
Committing to something for two years is huge. Before I came to Peace Corps I took my LSAT and was ready to go to Law School, but before I went, I wanted to do something for world; I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me.
I wanted to understand what it means to be poor, hungry, and tired from working too hard. I wanted to invest myself into someone else’s future, as so many have invested into mine. I wanted to be exposed to a different lifestyle, so that no matter what job I do in the future I always can remember what it means to live with little. I don’t think I have shed much light on the lifestyle I live here. Let me paint a picture:
In America I spent more on gas in two weeks getting back and forth to work than I live off for everything, rent, food, transportation, basic needs, etc., in a month.
Imagine the difference.
Gas for 2 weeks =my entire life here
My Peace Corps experience has been all that I wanted, because it has been exactly that, what can I do for my community? As many of you know from blogs, I have had a intense journey, but every time it all feels like too much, I think about the big picture. Two years of my life, to infiltrate a community and do nothing but give yourself to your community in hopes that one day the things you do for them they will be able to do for each other is worth putting my other goals and ambitions on pause.
Being a member of Peace Corps this year in the Philippines has truly been something to celebrate.
Peace Corps is celebrating not only 50 years of service, but 50 years of service in the Philippines. Through these celebrations I have thought a lot about what other PCVs have been like. I watched a video with the first set of PCVs leaving America, and I wondered about what it was like for them. 50 years later we have medical support, materials, resources, phones, emails, trainings, systems, security, an ways to communicate needs. I can’t imagine joining 50 years ago, and to those people, I have the utmost respect.
Due to this milestone, Peace Corps allowed us to throw 50th Anniversary Celebrations. My first 50th celebration took place in May, very far from my site in a place called Banaue. For those of you reading this not from the Philippines, Banaue is one of the most widely famous areas of the Philippines, known as the rice terraces.
My months have been so busy I feared I would never have a chance to share with you one of my best experiences in Peace Corps, my trip to Banaue.
However, two weeks ago we had a celebration of 50 years of Peace Corps in my own area. The celebrations and activities were so different, that waiting to share my experience is actually a blessing because now I have a chance to shed light on the differences of two extreme differences in the Philippines, and what Peace Corps has done in the last 50 years.
50 Years of Peace Corps Ifuego
After being called up to Manila for medical, I was able to join the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Ifuego. The trip was long and exhausting. The bus ride from Manila to Ifuego was 14 hours, because wait for it… our bus caught on fire. This is the second time in my life I have been on a bus that has caught on fire—not really good odds. By the time we made it to Ifuego we were exhausted, but amazed at how different the climate was. We took a jeep to the rice terraces and I was amazed at its beauty. It was one of the most peaceful moments I have ever had in my life. In this case, you don’t need my words, see for yourself:
We spend the weekend in a farm house, where we had the opportunity to actually harvest rice and do activities at the local school. My biggest fear was that I would find a leech on me, as they warned us that leeches often attach to you when you step in the mud.
The only dismay I found after harvesting rice was that my legs and arms were itchy, like blades for grass that cause microscopic cuts that somehow itch like crazy. The work overall gave me a huge respect for the rice I eat.
Besides the weather being much cooler, a huge difference from Iloilo to Banaue was the students ability to read and speak Engish at their grade level or higher. A group of PCVs planned on reading to the students at the local elementary school, but instead they read to us.
After our weekend in the Rice Terraces, we ventured back to Ifuego for one of my favorite experiences of Peace Corps. We did a native Ifuego dance, in native clothes. It was an amazing opportunity to really feel a part of another culture.
Another event was the HIV/AIDS Fun Run with an educational seminar after the run. I had been to the HIV/AIDS training in Manila a few months prior and it was the first time I was able to help lead HIV/AIDS related activities. It made me nervous to address a large group, in a language different than the one I am familiar with, but the students were able to understand and enjoyed the activities.
Finally the best moment of all, and the main difference between Ifuego and students in Iloilo was how brave the students were. After school some students came to our Peace Corps booth. One of them came up to me and asked right away if I was American. In Iloilo you have to build up the students confidence before you can speak with them, in this case the students wanted to converse. Their English abilities were out of control good. I asked a few of them if they wanted to play a game. I was able to explain the rules just one time and they were able to understand them easily. Soon our group of 5 turned to 10, than 15, than 20. Than I needed some assistance from the other PCVs, Jaron and my friend Mary joined the group. It seemed by the end there were about 30 kids playing a game I randomly made up. It was so fun, and I hated to leave. I loved the ease of making a connection with the students. At my site, you have to work to connect with students, but once you do, its truly magical.
It was a week away from site, but it served as a lifetime of experiences.
50th Anniversary Iloilo Style
During training we had the opportunity to visit an indigenous site. In the 1980s, I PCV was assigned to the area and was able to help the people keep the land. Over 20 years later and the 5 of us from Iloilo wanted to do something for the community we first fell in love with. My favorite picture of Peace Corps so far was taken by another PCV, Amari. She was able to capture a moment that I find the essence of the Peace Corps experience. A baby exploring my face and the difference of someone from a different culture, it constantly amazes me how babies are able to see the differences in those around them. You can see them react to the tone of our voices, and shape of our teeth, but mostly the desire to grab our nose.
Indigenous people here in the Philippines are called Ati. It is similar to that of Native Americans. The Ati were displaced all over Iloilo, they really needed a home. Ati are often found begging for money in the city. They usually have little to no clothes. My host father at my first home called them, “The ones with the Kinky hair.” The Ati are much darker in color than other Pilipinos. They also live naturally off of the land, but there is still much garbage. We decided to do a trash clean up, and a small English style camp.
As always a few of the children stole my heart. The boy pictured to the right loved to be held, and didn’t allow me to put him down. It was very difficult to climb up rocks and down to the river and up hills carrying a baby to pick up trash. I had a new respect for the woman and how hard they had to work carrying their children.
The second child that really made an imprint was one who I had sitting on my lap. All of sudden she realized I was different and she started SCREAMING!!!! I have never scared a little girl so bad. I tried to make it up to her but she was so frightened by me. By the end of the event she was following me around, so I know she wasn’t scared anymore just curious.
When we first arrived at the site, surprise surprise, they weren’t ready for us. We had a presentation and several other things planned but the majority of the people were in church. There were several children whoever, who were not in church. So I tried to teach them how to play “tag.” It didn’t really work, it was just me as a “monster” trying to tag the kids.
It was wonderful to hear so many giggles, but man was that a work out. There was a lot of little kids, a lot of hills and only one me. Still it was fun for all of us.
At the end of our activity we went down to the river to take pictures… the water was beautiful and kids were having so much fun that I had to jump in and take part of the off the beauty.
Just as I thought the day couldn’t get any better…. It did!
I get to check off a major item on my to-do list: PET A MONKEY!
There was a native monkey. And I can’t tell you how honestly scared I was to touch it. While small, it looked mean. Like the children who can tell there is something different about me. Eventually it grabbed onto my finger. WE HELD HANDS <3333 true love status.
All that’s is left on my check list
- Swim with a shark
- Ride and Elephant
- Save the world (haha jk)
As always thanks for letting me share my life with you. While my experiences differ drastically from day to day, the purpose is the same. I can’t believe how much I have learned about others and how much I have been able to share about myself. I look at all the events that shaped my life to bring me to this moment, how I learned games like tag as a child, and how those games help make a connection with others. I guess what I’m saying is that the life events you have now are all experiences that can eventually be shared and valued by someone else, and that is what Peace Corps is to me, a chance to be exactly who you are and to accept others for exactly who they are.
Happy 50 years Peace Corp Philippines!
Thanks for reading,
My Compilation CD that Reflect my 1st year in Peace Corps
InAmerica, any track I listened to was all about the beat. I rarely listened to words, I wanted music give back the energy I put out there. When I’m out for a jog or extremely tired, I still crave those beats, but the music I listen to, that makes me feel better on a bad day, gives me inspiration on a sad day, or reminds me about the worth of life has become even more important to me. So if you’re a fellow PCV, maybe these songs can make you feel better on a down day, or if you’re just a stranger, its amazing how music can really reach the core of who a person is, and I’m sure you will see me in all these songs.
Song 1: Heavens Eyes- Featured In the Motion Picture Prince of Egypt
Favorite Lyric: “A single thread in a tapestry, though its color brightly shines, can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design”
PCV Mood: WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING??? What sustainability??
Song 2: Perfect Day by Hoku
Favorite Lyric: “Im in the race but I already won, and getting there can be half the fun, so don’t stop me until I’m good and done, it’s the perfect day. Nothing is going to bring me down.”
PCV Mood: I worked really hard on this project, it is going to work.
Song 3: Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine
Favorite Lyric: “Run fast for your mother run fast for your father, Run for your children for your sisters and brothers, Leave all your love and your longing behind you, Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.”
PCV Mood: There is no turning back, no where to hide, but the worst is over, only 15 more months!
Song 4: High School Never Ends- Bowling for Soup
Lyrics: “The Whole Damn World is just as obsessed, With who‘s the best dressed and (who’s having sex), Who‘s got the money. Who (gets the honeys), Who‘s kinda cute and who‘s just a mess”
PCV Mood: Am I in high school still (in regards to how PCV’s interact, gossip, and exclude/include others)?? But really the whole world is.
Song 5: Mulan- “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”
Lyric: Tranquil as a forest, But on fire within, Once you find your center, You are sure to win, You’re a spineless, pale pathetic lot, And you haven’t got a clue, Somehow I’ll make
a man out of you
PCV Mood: Sometimes you don’t think you are ready for it… but in the end it will work out.
Song 6: Don’t you – Simple Minds
Don’t you forget about me (don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t) , Don’t you forget about me , Would you recognize me? Call my name, or walk on by? Rain keeps falling – rain keeps falling down, down, down, down”
PCV Mood: My friends wont forget me will they?
Song 8: Fat Bottom Girls- Queen
Lyrics: “Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round”
PCV Mood: I just was called, fat, big, chubby or large, but really I like what I got.
Song 9:Island in the Sun by Weezer
Favorite Lyric: On an island in the sun, We’ll be playing and having fun, And it makes me feel so fine, I can’t control my brain.”
PCV Mood: I forgot I live on anIsland because all I ever do is hang out in my school, room or plaza.
Song 10: It’s My Life- Bon Jovi
Lyric: “Better stand tall when they are calling you out, don’t’ bend don’t break, don’t back down. I’m not going to live forever, I just want to live while I’m alive.”
PCV Mood: After pooping your pants, throwing up your breakfast, itching from mosquitoes, stuck in bed with a fever even though it’s a million degrees, and people ask you, “Why are you still doing Peace Corp again?”
Song 11: When Love Takes Over by David Guetta
Favorite Lyric: “Look out for you to hold my hand. It feels like I could fall. Now love me right, like I know you can, we could loose it all. When love takes over, you know you can’t deny.
PCV Mood: I’m in a relationship in peace corps, I am more vulnerable, cried more tears, felt more defeated, more empty, but still there is someone to grab your hand. (And for me, that person is Jaron, thank you Jaron.)
Bonus Track: WAKA WAKA- Shakira
Favorite Lyric: Well the lyrics don’t really matter on this song
PCV Mood: I have heard this way way way too many times, but I will include it on my playlist anyways
Shout out Track: Tarzan- You’ll be in my heart
Favorite Lyric: My arms will hold you, Keep you safe and warm, This bond between us, Can’t be broken, I will be here , Don’t you cry
PCV Mood: I miss my mom.
This summer was more productive than I could ever imagine. Thus, I didn’t have time to document all the exciting things that happened. All I can say is, I had to sleep in places/not sleep, encountered a TON of cockroaches, and saw more body parts of fellow PCV’s than I expected. Overall, I would rate the summer a success. I’m really happy with the work that I did, and more importantly the relationships I made with other PCVS. My summer included, CampLead,an Elementary Camp, 5 teacher trainings and 2 workshops. Essentially, no time to write a blog, so this one will be the highlighting story from each summer event.
NOMET/ Teacher Trainings
As far as Peace Corp is concerned, it seems that my batch, 269, is very large in comparison to other batches. I have heard in other countries that batches are as small as 8 and usually up to 60-80. Our batch was 140+, the highest number brought to the Philippines. With that being said, it means that there are a LOT of PCV’s around. Although we are all relatively close, bus rides, boat rides, and jeep rides away we don’t get a chance to meet in large groups. NOMET was the answer to all of that.
It felt like a family reunion in a way, mostly because PCV’s are a lot like family. Each of us are assigned different topics and we train teachers on the topic. When I did my first two teacher trainings the numbers were smaller, around 50-150 for the 2 day training. However for NOMET there are around 500 teachers, meaning we have many topics for them to learn from.Jaron and I did two teacher trainings back to back in Antique, and our topic was Remedial Reading.
RemedialReadingis a difficult subject to teach because most of the teachers are brand new to the idea, thus its broken down into 2 sessions. After the 4 days, I don’t think I ever want to talk about Remedial Reading again. NOMET has 4 schools in a row. At each school teachers from the surrounding areas come, and then we transfer to another school and 1hr plus away.
My topics for NOMET were Microsoft Word and Researching. The benefit of teaching MS Word is that there is usually an air conditioner inside of the classroom with the computers to protect them. The negative side, is that there is an air conditioner inside of the classroom and its really hot outside so people will sign up for your class just to be in air conditioning and they have no desire to learn. Unfortunately for my students, I was very sick. So sick, that the air-conditioning bothered me so I had it off. I lost my voice the majority of the day, and would preserve it for the moments when it was time to teach. Almost like adrenaline, I would be able to talk because I wanted to teach so badly.My partner Evelyn, we taught MS Word and Research Fun and Games.
Researching was not as popular as MS Word, but still very important. My partner and I taught about plagiarism, because here in thePhilippinesstudents often turn in copy and pasted work from wikipedia or other sources. Teaching teachers how to help students write in their own words is more difficult than you would think. However I really enjoyed it. The highlight moments of NOMET were not actually teaching, (because I felt like crap the whole time) but instead the moments were we could be ourselves. On the weekend before the transition to the next school we played games like Mafia, and Monopoly Deal. We danced, ate pizza and just hung out. Even though we were sleeping on a cockroach invested school floor with thin pads and mosquitoes attacking us despite the layers of OFF, it was wonderful. Data Base WorkshopThe Data Base Workshop took place inManila. I had to leave NOMET early in order to attend. Being in Manila provided the opportunity to help at a school clean up, called Brigeda Eskwela. Every school across the Philippines has a clean-up campus week before school starts. USAID and the US Embassy adopted a local school by providing supplies. They invited PCV’s to help pain the school. It was an amazing opportunity because painting reminds me of home, and I met workers from USAID who really left me inspired about my future opportunities.
Usually in our trainings we get to bring one counterpart, but in this case I had the chance to bring two; Margot, the computer genius at my school, and Jerome the Barangay Captain and PTA President. Margot had never been on a plane before or out ofIloiloarea, so for him it was a huge deal to come toManila. When he came he said he didn’t have a desire to travel, but when he left he said he couldn’t wait to come again, and that pretty much summarizes the Workshop. I was really proud of my counterparts, they participated and brought up excellent points and we all made action plans for our communities. The highlight moment for me was taking Margot to the Mall of Asia. MOA is bigger than any mall that I have been to inAmerica, and that’s saying something. Now can you imagine someone from San Miguel seeing one? Inside there is an ice skating ring with fake snow falling, Margot had never seen anyone ice skate so we watched the people glide and spin across the glass. Then I took them to a “Mexican” food place, which is as close as we are going to get here in thePhilippines. They didn’t know what to order, so I ordered them random things I thought they would like. Margots full name is Margorito, and so we decided to get Margaritas, something he had never tried. Watching someone try something for the first time, or stop and recognize something that you just think is ordinary really changes a persons perspective on life. Surrounding my neighbors house are rows of Hibiscus, I told my mom and she asked me if I ever stop and look at them, and the truth is I don’t. Tropical flowers have become my habitat, and watching Margot and Jerome eat Mexican food, or Margot watch snow fall has made me re-evalaute the things that I forget to see. Elementary School Camp
The memories from this camp are too many to share. Unlike the Camp LeadI did earlier this summer, I was in charge of Team Building,Sports and theater. When you imagine sports at a camp I imagine balls, and equipment and big fields to play on. Instead we had a small space, with 2 small balls, 1 mostly deflated, and it was all we needed. We taught them American games such as tag, capture the flag, bacon, soccer, a version of basketball, relays and created obstacle courses. By the end of each day it was fair to say that everyone was exhausted.
The highlight moment was when one of the Sports kids took interest in adirty pond area.
They had just come out of the environmental seminar and they wanted to save the fish. I went over to the pond and together all of the kids I was in charge of decided that we were going to save the fish and clean their environment.
We all tried to catch the fish and put them in a safe bucket, we scrubbed and worked hard as a team, using cups and our hands to empty the water. I didn’t have a camera, but when we were almost done and the water was clear again another PCV took pictures. I can’t really describe the amount of team work, or how I felt about these kids after that day, but it was beautiful.
Anyways, those were my favorite moments from summer. Thanks for reading, Lysette and as an extra bonus for reading this far…im including an embarrassing picture of myself dancing on stage
At approximately 4:47am on Tuesday I started to feel dizzy. Could my bed possibly be shaking? Am I dreaming? Is this an…. Earthquake?
Earlier the previous day I had started a new work out plan, after eating breakfast I got sick and started vomiting, believe me, you don’t need the details. The cause now is something I’m still unsure of, maybe it was working out too hard, maybe it was drinking unfiltered water at the mall, but the best news is, it hasn’t happened again.
Although, I wasn’t sick for the rest of the day, I was scared it would happen again (it sure wasn’t pretty, excorist style) so I stayed home from school. Confined to my room and afraid to eat I started watching a new show called Breaking Bad, which I can fairly say is more than an addiction. I have 3 seasons of it, and I doubt they will last me long. I did a few other things that day, but nothing worth remembering.
Suddenly it was night. I fell asleep quickly, which is very unlike me, by 10:00pm. I woke up at 1:30 am wide awake, but still closing my eyes. I fell in and out of sleep, and its usually when I am in this phase that I dream. I love dreaming. Your brain is still slightly working because your aren’t all the way asleep, yet you don’t have control. I wish I could remember my dreams, or at least remember to write them down.
Anyways, 4:47 came, and I thought I was dreaming. Then I thought, UGH- I’m going to throw up again– and then I stood up. I pressed my hands on my bed, and realized I wasn’t dreaming. I threw on more clothes and went into the hallway, where my host mom was there about to knock on the door.
Me: “Is this a…”
Me: “I think I have felt it for over 30 seconds”
HM: “It’s been a minute, don’t be scared, we have earthquakes in the Philippines”
Me: “I lived in Southern California in the 90s, we had drills at school to practice getting under our desks. My mom used to take the pictures off the wall to protect them because we lived on a fault line. My sister and I would eat our after school snacks under the table. I’m okay, but are we in a danger of a Tsunami?”
HM: Lets listen to the radio
Me: (The radio is in Illongo, I understand about every 10-15th word) Did I hear the numbers, 6.2, 1 minute and 20 seconds?
HM: Yes, no Tsunami warning
My thoughts: Here I am sitting in my pjs in the dark listening to a radio I can’t understand. I’m used to CNN special reports, and being able to call all my loved ones. Its the first time I really really felt like I was in a foreign place.
HM: Its okay, you can go back to bed. Leave the door open in case anything happens. Expect aftershocks.
Me: Okay thank you.
I immediately texted my parents, I needed them to know I was all right. Then I texted everyone who I knew who lived close by to make sure they were okay.
Surprisingly, not everyone was woken up, but everyone was okay. After I got the last response from one of my friends, i imagined the people in Japan. I had so much time to react, and I still moved slowly. It breaks my heart thinking about what they have gone through, so I wanted to dedicate this blog to the people in Japan, and say that you are in my prayers. Because I was scared. I was scared that a Tsunami could come, it was a very long earthquake and I didn’t know where the center was. I was scared for Jaron because he lives on an Island smaller than mine and he lives in a Nipa Hut.
I then touched the walls of my room, and I prayed some more, because I was grateful. After the fear and worries came a calmness.
And thats how I am calm. Calm and grateful. Grateful for my life experiences and all the opportunities I have had. Grateful that it was only earthquake with no damages, and that all my friends are okay.
In those moments, you suddenly think of all the people who mean the world to you, and to those people, thank you.
And to you,
Thanks for reading,
I decided to post the two articles that are out right now. I have come to view this blog as a journal in some way and I want to remember the highlight moments, being featured at my University where I did my undergrad and in the local paper back home.
If you have already read them, don’t worry about reading them again. After re-reading the articles myself , I just want to highlight my favorite part in case anyone reading this is a future volunteer. This was asked in the Tribune article,
What were your goals when you decided to go, and did they change once you got started?
When you decide to do something like the Peace Corps you set out thinking you are going to change the world. When you get here, you realize that changing the world isn’t exactly what you thought it would be like. Instead, you realize that focusing on one student, one classroom, one teacher, one year level, one school and finally one community is about as much of the world as you are going to change, but it is way more important than I could have ever imagined.
Anyways, here are the links to the articles
The Press Tribune:
5 Questions: Roseville high grad joins Peace Corps
The Catholic University of America:
Lysette Davis, B.A. 2009, Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines
also– i didn’t get to pick the picture on that one, sorry about it <3
Thanks for reading,