I have not blogged in the longest time in being caught up in exams and then packing up my dorm items and for my trip to the Philippines. I have finally had the time (just barely!) to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.
It has been one week since arriving here in the Philippines. I think I have felt all sorts of emotion from happiness to overwhelmed to being scared of the unknown. I have seen and done a lot in week’s worth of time. One of my favorite moments from this past week was the first day in Metro Manila and observing absolutely everything around me– my senses were on fire. That was the day I was overwhelmed for a bit. About an hour after getting off the plane and arriving at the dorms, I found out Filipinos do not use toilet paper and I was struggling to communicate to get some. Also, getting Filipino money to pay for things was an adventure. It was an “oh boy” I am definitely not at home any more kind of moment. By night though I felt much better and since then have not had that kind of moment.
I am learning a lot about myself here too. At home I am always jumping into situations. Here, I think because I am in a new situation my approach is to observe the situation, make an assessment, and then proceed.
Walking down Katipunan Ave in Metro Manila I see shantytowns amongst city buildings. Trikes, jeepneys, and taxis line the streets with no side walks (a lot of contrasts in the Philippines) as people walk the street amongst street vendors and stray cats and dogs. This is the list off the top of my head of everything I have seen: The Ateneo de Manila, Fort Santiago, The Manila Cathedral, San Augustin Church, Ayala Museum, El Shaddai, Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church, a Jesus is Lord ceremony, swimming in Puerto Galera, snorkeling, sight seeing, and a lot of readings and discussions about the Philippines and our immersion into the culture.
On our way to Puerto Galera Matt (a faculty member) was talking with the four seminar students about the Wizard of Oz and how it would be great to keep the sound track and have Pixar animate the film. We then related the Wizard of Oz to the trip after Plato’s principles of the mind (scarecrow), heart (tin man), and body (lion). All of us go on a journey to find ourselves by using the world around us. Through this psychoanalytic journey Dorothy finds herself. It reminded me of my Be Your Best Self event that I held for Distinguished Young Women. I lead the boys and girls down the Yellow Brick Road as Dorothy to collect all the items that correlated to each element from the characters. Here we are finding ourselves through studying others here in the Philippines. Our minds, our hearts (how we feel), and our bodies (hot, tired, maybe in danger at times) are all challenged. All three connect for us, like Dorothy, to better understand ourselves and find ourselves in the world. Our minds have been challenged in taking in all that is around us, making sense of it, and challenging it with questions. Our hearts and emotions have been in the modes of panic, anxious, overwhelmed, sad, and missing family. Our bodies are challenged in this heat, being tired with jet lag, and going and going all day long, putting a toll on our bodies.
It is amazing how much you learn when removing the class from the classroom and are surrounded by the topic because unlike the classroom you cannot remove yourself from the subject. In the classroom you discuss the topic for about fifty minutes or so and then go on with your life when you leave those four walls only to revisit the subject if there is homework on the topic. When the subject becomes 24/7 for three weeks everything is challenged from the mind, to the body, to even the soul. To me this is a true learning experience because the teacher’s perception is not coming to me through the material, but rather my experiences and feelings and observations all contribute to how I am understanding the subject at hand. It is when the student and material become a pair, contributing equally, that learning has reached its goal. That is learning– it is messy, challenging us every day, organic, fit to the student, and every part of your being is required to show up and take what is in front of you. There is no removing yourself in this situation and it teaches much more than a textbook and professor ever could.
Today we are leaving Puerto Galera and I feel like I have finally gotten a good nights rest and my brain is charged and finally back up to working capacity. I woke up this morning with the thought as it finally sinks in that I am so grateful to be here– from the things I have seen to the people I have met. As I sit down on my balcony and look out I see in the distance a rainbow after last night’s storm passed through.
This villa may not have electricity, the Philippines may be challenging my cooling system in multiple ways, and I may be more tired this trip then ever before, but when I remove those variables and take a moment to step back and see where I am– life is wonderful. Making the most of every minute of my time here will benefit me far beyond the moment I step on the plane and go home. It is only the end of week one, two more to go. So cheers to two more weeks of pure enjoyment and making the most of every minute of my time here.