Well, This Is Different

Jen in Romblon

It’s going to be hard to explain how things have been in the last two weeks of my volunteering, but I’m going to try my best to give you an idea of what life is like here by giving you a breakdown of one of my days last week:

6:15am: wake up to 50 roosters cock-a-doodling, eat rice, fish and fried vegetable for breakfast, plan for classes

7:30am: walk to school along the only road in town with my 3 new dogs that I seem to have acquired the instant I arrived, and have many kids follow me and people look at me and ask where I’m going the whole way (not really sure the reason for this question, as there really is only one way that I appear to be going - I think it’s just something for the people to say to me, like how we always say “How’s it going?”, nevertheless, it’s weird for me everytime, and I always blurt out an answer like, “Uh… this way” or “To school” or “To eat lunch” or “Home”)

Kid chaos at Long Beach Elementary in Romblon

8:00am - 9:30am: teach kindergarten (35 kids)

9:45am-10:45am: teach grade 4 (80 kids)

11:00am: walk back home for lunch, get offered a ride on the back of a motorcycle, run over a dog and kill it, be traumatized by the whole thing, but seem to be the only person actually feeling sorry for the dog

11:45am: eat rice, fish and fried vegetables for lunch

12:00pm: take a nap and plan for classes

12:30pm: WALK to school swearing I’ll never ride a motorbike again

1:15pm - 2:35pm: teach kindergarten (35 kids)

3:00-4:00pm: teach the crazy grade 2’s (50 kids)

4:00pm: walk home with a huge procession of kids following me in “The Ants Go Marching” song (they will go along with anything that is remotely entertaining), get given pineapples and avocados from people who I don’t really know

5:00pm: go for a swim and have a cold bucket shower

6:30pm: eat dinner (rice, fish, and fried vegetables)

7:00pm: clean up, do laundry

8:00pm: read, prepare for classes, twiddle my thumbs

9:00pm: go to bed

As you can see, life is pretty simple here. It’s been very interesting so far. At the present time, I’m finding it a challenge to figure out a way to help in a meaningful way. I’m currently replacing Filipino teachers in all of my classes, which does not seem to me to be helping, aside from the fact that my teaching style is different and the kids could be benefiting from something different and the teachers might learn a thing or two from me. Anyway, in the time I have spent at the school I have noticed some problems in the school, so I’m going to see if I can have them addressed. I’d like to leave here knowing that I’ve contributed something that will be remembered, or will last, and will have a positive effect on the people here. It’s hard to explain, but it’s difficult to have yourself understood or heard properly here - and this makes it hard to follow through with your ideas.

Anyway, it’s all been interesting, thought-provoking, and very different.

3 Responses to “Well, This Is Different”

  1. Helen & Paul
    August 7th, 2007 | 9:41 am

    Hi Jen,

    We have great admiration for you for SO many reasons! Such perserverance and an upbeat attitude! We were hoping that you would update your blog despite Jon being back in Canada whilst you were doing volunteer work in impoverished areas in the Phillipines; you did not dissapoint.

    Take good care of yourself; we think of you often!

    We are looking forward to welcoming you back to Canada!

    Helen & Paul

  2. Helen & Paul
    August 8th, 2007 | 2:10 am

    Sorry for the spelling errors! I guess I should have had on my reading glasses!!


  3. Tom
    August 23rd, 2007 | 6:17 pm

    80 kids?! Jeeziz!