(This video was filmed and created by my friend Javonni at naturaltravelista.com and shows our travel journey to the Philippines. She did an excellent job and had it pretty much finished by the time we landed. She is awesome.)
I have officially arrived in the Philippines, though it will be a while until I am able to settle down. I am currently at a training center an hour and a half outside of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I am here for two weeks as part of our Initial Orientation. Sunday, July 20th we will head to another province several hours away for our three months of continued training. All of the volunteers are split into three different sectors: Children, Youth, and Families (my sector); Education; and Coastal Resource Management. For our Pre-Service Training (PST), which starts next Sunday, we will be split up into our different sectors and be placed in different locations – which is a little sad.
My days right now are pretty basic but full of training. I wake up and head to breakfast between 7 and 8, and then we have a training session until lunch. After lunch we go back to training until dinner. After dinner we have free time and many people get together to hang out and have fun – I on the other hand usually chill out in my room and recoup from information/people overload by reading. Yesterday was an unusual day because we went to the beach for water safety training, which I think is done on purpose to give us some time away from the compound and a chance to enjoy our new home. We had a great day in the sun and enjoyed the beauty of the ocean and time spent with new friends.
As some of you may have read in my previous blog, I had a parasite before coming to the Philippines which made the initial days a little rough, but the good news is that I am doing much better and think the parasite has finally moved out of my body – pesky rascal. I am now able to enjoy the food much more, which is great because the fruit here is excellent! Rice is served with every meal, but I try to limit my consumption so that I do not tire of it too quickly. They also love sweets here and serve us snacks that consist of little pastries, cookies, and this crispy fried banana thing. Conclusion: I may need larger clothes sent to me.
Today has been our first day off and it has been wonderful to relax and take it easy. A group of us spent the morning working on making flash cards with Tagalog words, I then chatted with people for a while, and then took a nap due to my rambunctious morning. I have met some truly phenomenal people here which has been very encouraging. Many people talk of the Peace Corps family and how the people you serve with become a part of your family for the rest of your life. It is such a great concept and I am beginning to see how this is so – it is such an amazing feeling! I know I will have times of complete frustration with everyone, but I also know that I am about to grow in unfathomable ways that only these people will be a part of and fully understand. We are about to embark on a journey that none of us can foresee and I have a feeling that none of us will be the same afterward. We will each have our own journey full of unique experiences; however these will only make us grow closer together. We are each relying on family and friends to see us through, but we also know that our fellow volunteers are the only one who will be able to full understand the growth that will take place in each of us. It is a little scary to know that these recent strangers will soon be a crucial lifeline during my service, but there is also something incredibly exhilarating about it at the same time.
Much love everyone!