Monday, August 15, 2011

just a typical saturday as a volunteer

August 13, 2011
There are certain rites that every volunteer goes through to become even more a volunteer. Here in Philippines these are mainly amoebas and becoming a God Parent.
A while ago the big thing at school was to call me foreign and then whatever it was. We went to a birthday party and I was the foreign guest. I was the foreign teacher. Foreign everything. So at recess one day they teased me and said I could the foreign God Mother of another teacher’s baby. I made it very clear that I was about as rich as I was Catholic (these are both important things in choosing a God Parent, unless you are white-that trumps all) and we all laughed. The mother-to-be not saying anything. Then they all laughed and we went to class. Never to speak of it again.
Until Tuesday. The teacher was there and she asked me if I remembered what I said I would do. I quickly scanned my mind and thought maybe she did want me to be her daughter’s God Mother. I said I think so and then she was telling me to be at the church on Sunday at 9. That was that.
I showed up at 9:15 and was the first. Then the baptism was at 10:00. The baby, Julie Ann Claire, has 10 Godparents-two padis, and eight madis. I’ll let the other 9 worry about her eternal salvation, and just continue to stress I am not a rich American.
After was the Christening party and the food was so tasty. I love when the food is so tasty.
The whole family, they really wanted a boy.

home and away

August 14, 2011
This past week was a long one, but you know what? It ended well. Friday was Home and Away Games and the week was spent in prep for that. Which means teachers were in babysitter mode and students were in babysittee mode. I didn’t get this memo, and failed miserably at trying to have class. Even when I tried to play educational games it was a bomb. The closest I came to an organized English based activity was playing telephone. It worked well once I explained the idea is to be silly, not perfect.
Through out the week kids were being pulled out all hours of they day to practice. I had said I would help, but decided this year I wanted to be an active audience and next year I would help. A big part of this decision is no one really could tell me what it was about. I think I figured it out. Part of the curriculum is a PE type aspect. Here they meet that by doing a Sports Fiesta (some towns call it intramurals) every year for a week. Then later they will have a provincial meet, and depending on how that goes continue on to the next level. So three random weeks out of the year they get PE, and by they I mean a select number of students. This is why I am arranging a sports club with the high school.
That being said, Friday was quite an event. We started with a parade and then had a program. It wouldn’t be the Philippines without a parade and program. Then the kids started competing in badminton, chess, running, softball, basketball, volleyball, futball, throwing events, baseball, gymnastics, high jump, table tennis, and of course the pageant.
In the morning it was a scorcher and I felt sorry for all those kids out there in the sun. They stood in lines for a good hour during the program and then went and played with no shade to be found. Then in the afternoon it was pouring, and only basketball could continue because it was at a different venue that was covered.
Very interesting day, and I was glad I got to watch all the happenings.
It was so hot, this is one my pupils using my shadow.

VIP seating means you can touch the speakers.

It was a very beautiful day, even if it was hot.

Waiting to get started.


Friday, August 05, 2011

who loves polyester?

August 3, 2011
Somewhere along the way Filipinos got the idea that uniforms were cool or something. Uniforms are everywhere. At the pizza place in the mall they are all the exact same from head to toe, including their kicks. At mayor’s office and all those other local government places they have uniforms. Each day of the week is a different color. Everywhere. I’ve mentioned before that students wear uniforms. But did I mention all students? As in college students also. As in every college student, including nontraditional students.
This is the reason why I am rocking 3, well 2 for now, new polyester outfits. My school has bought me uniform sets for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They are one hundred percent polyester and plenty hot and plenty itchy. A tailor that had to add extra measurement columns for my body measured me, and then she sewed them up. Right now I’ve got Monday, which is navy blue pants and a yellow blouse, as well as Wednesday, which is gray pants and a bluish white top. I’m still waiting on my Tuesday uniform.
They do look sharp, but if I had had to buy them myself I would have thought long and hard about it. I am glad that now I look like one of them, but polyester! What were they thinking? I’m debating whether I need to get them touched up by the tailor but think I’ll wait until they get washed. It will save some wear and tear on my clothes I brought from home.
Right now the verdict is still out on uniforms. I promise pictures at some point.

day in the life:5-8

I am not a morning person.
All those social graces don’t exist before 8:00. However, I’m not one of those not a morning person people that can sleep the morning away. But, before coming here I was totally a roll out of bed and head out the door person. Not here though. Here I’ve got a nice slow leisurely morning with a crazy thing called down time.
The alarm goes off at 5:01 (hey, ain’t that quirky?) but usually I am more or less awake and being serenaded by minions of roosters. I lay there composing myself enough to get up and say good morning as I shuffle to the bathroom. Then I troop back upstairs get dressed for a run and head back down to shove my shoes on. Then I go go go, by the time I get back I’m in a much better mood. Let’s here it for endorphins! I go upstairs get out of the sweatys, grab my towel and head back down. I brush my teeth and turn the hot water on on the water cooler to make tea later, grab my pot of hot water and head to the bathroom. Yes, my Auntie boils water for me. At first I felt super guilty and like a bad volunteer for taking a semi-warm bucket bath. Then I figured out my Auntie always boils her water for her baths. My site mate has hot showers. Other volunteers boil their water.
After my shower I still have an hour and half before school. This is when I drink my tea  (recently I’ve been rocking some tea sent to me from Boston!) and eat my mango (my favorite part of the day, for sure).  This is when I blog, or write emails, or journal, or do a crossword the whole time while having a bit of a dance party. Around 7:45 I get dressed for school and head out the door at 7:55 to walk down the street to start my day, always showing up right on time for class.

day in the life: 8-10

Being that I’ve been here just about a year (whoa) I figure I’ve finally got an idea of what a typical day is like here.
So first, my morning at school. I show up to school right around 8. My first class is Grade 5 Sped English. Ma’am Hazel starts the day with spelling. She does the spelling, mostly because, as an educator I’m not yet sure how I feel about spelling lists. I’m sure there is a way to do them right, and I’m sure that that way is not giving Grade 6 pupils bourgeois, cadaver, cachet, cachou, cabriolet, caddie, calaboose, callus, camaraderie, and canthus on a spelling list, even if English is their first language. But I’m in the Peace Corps and have to pick my battles, and this is not one of them. Besides, the kids really like spelling. They are perfectionists and super competitive, both of these things are easily fed with spelling lists. Then she will give a pronunciation drill that we all go over together. Usually I’m informed I’m pronouncing all the words wrong, or that I may be right but in the Philippines they say it differently. I wish I could think of a really good example. Then Ma’am will review a topic and introduce a new topic. Filipinos know grammar rules, and they know about crazy grammar things I never ever heard of. So I learn a lot at this point. Then I’ll get up and do three activities with them applying these grammar rules. I usually end up combining the three, which I figure is fine as long as I cover the goals. One activity that is teacher focused, one that is material focused, and one that is student/group focused. I love this. Every once in a while it is on the topic that I actually prepared, but usually I get thrown under the bus topic wise. I’m starting to be ok with this. Then after my turn Ma’am Hazel gets back up and gives the students a quiz and an assignment. This class is supposed to be 100 minutes. Which is a long time for one class. However, my class is not 100 minutes. In a very untypical Filipino fashion it is two solid hours!
I love when the recess bell rings and it is time to eat, because at this point I’m exhausted.
*Note: On Tuesdays the students have catechism class from 8-9. 

day in the life: 10-3

I only have one class in the morning, the rest of the morning I spend doing school focused work.
But first we recess. Ma’am Hazel always buys my meryenda. At first I offered like crazy to buy it, or buy my own. She buys meryenda. I’m finally getting over the guilt, and try really hard to like some of the choices she makes. Usually we have hot cakes (which are like thick crepes, with butter and sugar), ice candy (think popsicle in a plastic bag, no stick), and banana-que. It use to be we had turon also, which is a personal favorite, but this year they have not made it a lot. Sometimes she’ll buy pansit. Which is awkward. Pansit is one of my favorite foods, but I really don’t like my schools’ pansit. They put the nasty pink hot dogs in it, and teeny-tiny shrimp still in the shell with the super long antennae still attached. Not my favorite at all, but she knows I like pansit. Sometimes we eat in the classroom, which I like, we discuss what it was like for her to grow up in Mindanao or we discuss lesson topics for the week.  Sometimes we eat in the canteen, which I also like, we get to sit with the other teachers and just talk away.
After recess I go talk to Ma’am Vivian for a bit and do some library stuff or go home to work on some lesson things. If I really have no idea what to do for the lesson I’ll go to the where the Internet is and do some research.
Then I go home and eat lunch. Nothing fancy, usually tuna fish and crackers or a fried PB and J or oatmeal. Depending on the day and how hot it is I’ll take a quick nap or read and hope for an afternoon shower to come.
If the shower does come I go to school around 2:30, if not I’ll go back to school between 1:00 and 2:30. I never know when Ma’am will come back from lunch or what she will be working on. We discuss lesson topics and usually I learn that that lesson I worked on during break will not be taught that day (or probably ever) and instead we’ll probably teach Grade 6 something that is very similar to what we taught Grade 5. I’ll buy us sodas if it is super hot. We wait for the teacher to come tell us it is our turn around 2:35 and we talk with her for about half an hour (our class starts at 2:40).
Then I put out the hint to go to class by going to class, subtle I know.

day in the life: 3-6

Sometimes I tend to dread the afternoon part of the day.
Last year I struggled with my Grade 5 class. They were wild and naughty classroom management is kind of not very much a thing here. This year I struggle with my Grade 6 class. See the correlation?  I think my teacher struggles with them also. They are definition naughty.
I go to class and get set up in the back and wait for Ma’am Hazel to come. Then we do much of the same drill as for our other class. Ma’am doing the discussion usually, but not always, and me doing some more activities. However, this class has some added fun. Ma’am does a lot of yelling at them. They wander all over the classroom. I’m always asking them to be quiet, look at me, listen, just fun stuff like that. Sometimes I get to explain to them the proper way to treat other human beings. So far I’ve explained we don’t make broad generalizations. We don’t write sentences whose object is to make someone feel bad. We don’t make fun of the guy from the deaf institute who comes asking for money. We don’t make fun of kids for not being able to breath after we’ve driven them to tears. So many things we don’t do it. After I yell at them, Ma’am gets up and yells at them. She does her part in Filipino, but she talks about church a lot. Score Catholic guilt.
Individually they are benign, but together can be a disaster.
After class I sometimes have a meeting with my library club. After this I go shopping. If it is a Monday or Thursday I stop and get some mangoes and fresh veggies. Our market days are Tuesday and Friday. I find them to be very overwhelming, so I go the night before when they are setting up. Then I’ll go to my usuals for garlic, onion, potatoes, and stuff like that as well as a piece of pineapple. Then home again home again. I drop my stuff off and then go attempt to chitchat with my Auntie.
By now it is getting dark and my afternoon is over.

day in the life: 6-9

Evenings here to tend to slowly fly by.
After getting home from school and sitting or not too long it is time to make dinner. Which is interesting. The kitchen has one light bulb, so I’m always fighting my own shadow. The stove has 2 burners, which is fine because I only have 1 pot and 1 pan. I make a lot of one-pan meals.
When my Auntie cooked for me she would never eat with me. I don’t know why. So now that I cook I still eat alone. After eating I’ll clean up and head to my room for the night. Usually it is pushing 7 so all I do is make sure things are set for the next day, maybe listen to a podcast or two, and read. Then lights go out fairly early (sometimes helped along by a brown out).
I’m usually in bed by 9. I’ll save you a blog for this time of day. I sleep. The roosters crow.