Saying goodbye [2016-03-12]

We’re sitting here in Seoul, the 9-hour layover serving as an interlude to the always-difficult transition between our life in the Philippines and our life in California.  There are many things we’re looking forward to: the silence of the suburb where we live, spinach, cooler temperatures, and of course friends and family in the US.  But I am already missing our family in Cebu, spread now from Daanbantayan to Mandaue City, but most especially in our home town of Compostela.  It is ten years this month since we first arrived in Manila as new US Peace Corps Volunteers, and we both continue to be amazed and humbled by the blessings that we have received since we first set foot on Filipino soil. 

Pohon time [2016-03-08]

Suddenly the end of this trip is near, and we’re in “pohon time”.  “Pohon” is a word in the local Cebuano dialect that doesn’t have an exact English translation, but captures so well the multitude of emotions we are feeling right now: a sense of melancholy that we’ll be leaving soon, a joyful hope that we will return, and a deep gratitude for the experiences we’ve had these last 8 weeks.  At each parting, we say “kita ta sa September pohon” – although we know that nothing in life is certain, we will hopefully see each other again in September.

Making the rounds [2016-02-27]

Things did not slow down much this past week!  We spent Monday finishing up at Tipolo National High School, paid visits to several of our 2014/2015 schools on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and celebrated the People Power Holiday on Thursday at Compostela National High School starting a major rearrangement of a couple of computer labs.

Past, present, and future [2016-02-21]

This last week was probably the crux of our trip, a week where we combined a new installation, visits to previous installations, and scouting for our next trip.  We were both viewing the week with some trepidation, because this was all done up in northern Cebu on a rather tight time schedule with no well-stocked computer stores nearby for emergency purchases.   However it ended up going wonderfully and we returned home last night happy and excited for the future.

On the road [2016-02-15]

Wow, so much has happened since my last post!  We completed our work at Mulao NHS last Wednesday, holding orientation training for the teachers.  Thursday and Friday we reported to Compostela NHS to work on miscellaneous tasks, and early Saturday morning we headed off to northern Cebu for the entire week.  We’ll have teacher orientation training tomorrow at Almacen Torrevillas NHS in Medellin.  It’s been a whirlwind, but things have gone very well so far.

To chaos and back [2016-02-06]

We spent much of this week at Tabok National High School in Mandaue City.  As always, it was a joy to get to know the students and teachers there!  There are many similarities from school to school, since educational policy and curriculum are dictated at the national level here in the Philippines.  However each school still seems to have its own unique rhythm and customs, and we enjoy the process of slowly adapting to them as the week goes by.

Fiesta! [2016-01-29]

Drums are pounding here, and I can hear the “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1” of the dancers as they practice their steps.  Yes, it’s the school fiesta today at Compostela National High School, and all of the last minute preparations for the afternoon festivities are in full swing!  This afternoon Neal and I will experience yet again the pageantry and magic of the dances in honor of the patron saint of the school.  We’ll enjoy the bonding with the teachers here, our family for almost ten years now, and we’ll eat great fiesta foods.  It’s a happy close to a productive week of Reneal work!

Cebu Week 1 [2016-01-23]

Goodness, time really flies quickly!  We’re already a week into our 2016 Philippines trip!  We’ve had a few small glitches, but overall it’s been a great start.  The highlight of the week was completing the installation work at Consolacion National High School.  We also spent a couple of days at our “home school”, Compostela National High School.  It is definitely wonderful to be back in Cebu!

Underway in 2016 [2016-01-17]

Hello from the Philippines!  We had an extremely smooth trip to Cebu, and all of our luggage made it with us.  What a nice change from Tanzania!  It is wonderful to be back to our second home in Compostela, and we’ve already been able to connect with some dear friends.  Jet lag hasn’t been too bad (yet), and the temperatures are a relatively comfortable mid-80’s.  We’re still in cultural transition, trying to calm our crazy American overdrive and get into “Filipino time”, but we’ll get there.  Phones and internet are set up, the water pressure is good (so far), and no power outages (yet) so all is well!

Countdown! [2016-01-11]

Suddenly we’re into 2016 and with that, a journey to the Philippines draws near.  How different it is these days, when I contrast packing now with our preparations in 2006 as we left for the U.S. Peace Corps.  Then we spent hours it seemed, deliberating over each item with things alternating between the “take” and “leave” pile several times.  Now?  Print out the list, make a gigantic pile that includes everything on the list, and then shovel it all into boxes and duffel bags and carry-ons.  It’s definitely nice to be so used to the process now!