Monday, February 13, 2012

My Library Project: How Far Can Your Donation Go?

The Library Committee with all of the books.
The Library Committee showing off the books.

Some of you may have seen or received various messages from me about the library project that I have started here at my school for the students. Currently our school (of approximately 1600 students) doesn't have a library...and when I say that I don't mean a shelf of books that sits in a corner not counting as a library, I mean nothing, no library what-so-ever. The Peace Corps provides help for funding projects like these through various programs, one of which is the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), this program posts my grant online and gives people like you an opportunity to donate your money towards my project while at the same time receiving a tax break for next year.

Our project needs about $3000 to move forward. These funds will buy shelves,books, an air con for the library, a copier for the teachers, and furnishings for the room. $3000 to help students read and escape their everyday lives. So! Just how far can your donation go? Below are some examples:

$1-- 4 Books
$5-- 20 Books or 400 copies of handouts
$20-- 80 Books or 1,200 copies
$50-- 200 Books

If any of you would like a complete copy of my 16 page grant (with the background information, budget, and breakdown of how the project will be completed) please let me know and I would be more than happy to email it to you.

I would also like to include pictures of our library committee in this post. The Library Committee is entirely made up of students. During the past two months they have been collecting money through a Piso for the Library Drive and by holding a Valentine Gram Drive. Through these fundraising activities the committee had raised enough funds to buy 245 books for the library.

Here is the link for the donation site:

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Place

Sometime during the Christmas vacation I decided that I wanted to move out once and for all. After the break I started looking for a new apartment (at the time one that would accommodate Gaya) and soon found one that was way out of my price range :) The Peace Corps came and checked it last week and I will only have to pay a little out of pocket which is nice. After packing up all of my things and having one teacher and two of the fourth year students help me move I was all set.
I love this new place infinitely more than I can say. I forgot what it was like to be independent. To not have to worry about whether or not the gate would be locked at the seemingly normal time of 7pm. To not have to sit there as the smell of fish permeates every inch of the house. To not have to listen to two young boys fighting and then inevitably crying when one of them gets into trouble. This new place is my sanctuary. Only I get to say what happens here, when it happens, or if it even happens at all. (Well me and the ghost that I'm pretty sure I have)

This new place is only two rooms but it's all tile and I have an actual shower which is invaluable here to a volunteer. I also have a remote control aircon in my room and a ceiling fan (a dangerous combination I know). It's quiet and everyone there is used to having foreigners live there for short times so they speak a little English and are friendly but at the same time respectful of independence and privacy.
The first night is the worst (as with any place). I was sleeping on the floor (having not yet traveled to the big city to buy foam) and around 3 in the morning I heard the unmistakable CRASH of glass breaking...Quickly thinking to myself, I only have one glass thing and that was on the other side of the counter tops, far away from where it could have easily fallen and broke...So either I have a ghost who likes to throw glass or someone is breaking into the apartment...and if that's the case I'm going to lay here in my bedroom and wait for them to leave (my bedroom door is solid with 3 locks and a window with steel along the outside. When I woke up though it was just the glass on the floor....I'm going to say it's a ghost instead of rat...they're less frightening.
Other than that everything is going well. I started a small fire last night by trying to make popcorn on the stove top and heating the oil too quickly....but my mom taught me never to put water on an oil fire and it quickly extinguished big deal. I'm excited to have more visitors come and hang in the wonderful wonderful nothing that is Kabankalan.

Let the visitation begin!

Friday, January 6, 2012

R.I.P. Gaya

I came home from vacation excited to see my dog. When I got to my counterparts house to get her she was kind of lethargic and they told me that she didn't eat her breakfast that morning..probably because of her skin disease...what skin disease? I took her home and she started to vomit and have LBM so I took her to the vet the next day. The vet said she had hook worms again (despite being de-wormed at the beginning of December) and a bacterial infection. So I got antibiotics and anti diarrhea medications for her.

Next Day: Still not better, okay. Sometimes it takes meds a little while to work.

Two Days Ago: Still not better. So I took her back to the vet. She got an I.V. for dehydration and I.V. antibiotics.

Yesterday I went back to the vet to get a refill for her I.V. Fluids and went to work. I came back two hours later to give her her medication and sad to say she was dead.

It was a very heart breaking experience because I had to go to my school in tears and ask one of the few teachers who I consider to be my friend to help me get rid of her. He asked me what I wanted to do and, being in tears, I said I had no idea. What did they do with dead animals in this country?

He told me I could bury her in the school and I said that would be great.
So he took two students to my house and got her and then they buried her in the math garden at my school while a little ceremony from my other friend teachers. One of the students is painting a sign now that says "Gaya's Garden".

All in all it was a surreal experience. The teachers at my school went like this - (Friend teachers)- Oh Megan I'm so sorry, I'll get you another dog, one of my neighbors have them.

Non- Friend Teachers- Oh she died because you (insert excuse here). For example, you left her in your room so she suffocated.

One of my FT also "sponsored" me for five beers last night :) Leanna also came down to spend the day with me and help me house shop.

SO all in all of course I still feel horrible, I had the dog for a little over a month and she's dead, how do you expect me to feel? But this experience really solidified what I've observed about the Filipino culture and how they treat animals in this country. I'm going to try to get over it in the next few months by throwing myself into moving, the Sinulog festival, my library, and my mom's visit.

Thank you all though for your well wishes.


New Years Eve

Written on January 3rd, 2011

This year’s New Years Eve was a fun event all around. Our Christmas group went up to El Nido to visit another volunteer’s site and house. It was really really nice. Our activities included island hopping in beautiful water, SCUBA Diving (which admittedly wasn’t as great as Apo Island) and TONS of fireworks. No. Seriously. It was what I would expect a warzone to be like. The streets were dark and smoky from the fireworks. You couldn’t walk anywhere without having to thoroughly search the area for a lit fuse, children ran screaming in every direction, and even then you had the occasional lit firecracker fly your way. The climactic event of the night was when we were all sitting on some steps on the beach waiting for the countdown to end. These two men came up with a string of firecrackers….no big deal. And by string I mean a four-foot long string connected together…which they lit…still no big deal. And then it happened… some tourists sitting next to us had a big box of fireworks that they lit… you know the ones I’m talking about. About the size of a small moving box, they shoot lights up into the air about fifteen feet and go on for 3-4 minutes…well they lit that ( in front of the crowded restaurant where they were sitting) and it went off….and then fell….and starting shooting EVERYWHERE! Into the restaurant, into the beach, and most especially at us. Poor Matt actually was hit dead on by one of the lights; luckily he wasn’t hurt at all.

Now I’m sitting the airport writing this and looking up activities for when my mom comes to visit.

ALSO! I’ve decided to move into a place of my own. Being at Leah’s house just reminded me that I really do love having my own independence and I’ve been missing it. Now that I have Gaya I have a legitimate excuse to tell my host family I want to move out. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was living with my host family until I started thinking about what I would need to get for the house and it made me extremely happy. Weird huh?

Song of the Day: La-Da-Di by the Beatles.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holidays in the Philippines

The holiday season in the Philippines start on September 1st. Yes you read that right, a full three months before Christmas...Not a day later. You can be sure that all of the shopping venues throughout the country will be putting up their Christmas decorations and begin playing Pasko Na Naman as soon as the doors open that day.

Last year Christmas wasn't that fantastic for me....matter of blew...hard. I spent Christmas last year by myself at a little resort in Sipalay because my host family went to their own families homes in various locations on our island. The being alone coupled with being away from my family at Christmas for the first time in my life was just a miserable experience that I never ever ever wanted to repeat. I'm glad to say that this year's Christmas was so very much better.

Leanna and I began our Christmas by coming to the island of Palawan to help our friend Krystal do a training for some of the education students from the college that she teaches at. That training went very smoothly and was a rewarding experience unto itself; but the trip continues to get better.

The next day we went to house sit for friends of Matt and Krystal's in the city where they live. It made me feel "in the holiday spirit". I'm to sure if it was the house or just being surrounded by other Americans. Either way, it was nice. We went to the beach (Nagtabon) one day and just spent it relaxing in the crystal waters. And when I say crystal, I mean crystal. You could see through ten feet of water to the bottom from the beach.

Christmas Eve we all banded together to make as close to a dinner from home as we could. Here was the menu:

Baba gnoush with Pita Chips made from scratch
Crispy Pata - A Filipino dish

Main Dishes:
Mashed Potatoes
Pasta Salad
Green Bean Casserole

Apple Pies ( I made those :) ALSO FROM SCRATCH)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rum Balls
Mango Float ( Another Filipino Favorite. It consists of fresh mango with graham crackers, pudding, and dulce de leche layered together and frozen)

It was all fantastic.

Tomorrow we're heading up to El Nido to meet up with some more people to celebrate New Year's Eve.

As always, I'll try to be more diligent with my posting. Maybe I'll make the posts shorter but more frequent. Would you like that one person who follows my blog?

In other other news! My mom is coming to visit me in February! And I got a puppy! Her name is Gaya!

To all others..... Merry Christmas! Happy New Years! See you all before the next one comes around!

Pictures Below:

Gaya @ 3 months old

Our Christmas Dinner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Can't Get This in America

Yes I know it's been forever since my last post, but I believe that if you were really all that interested in what I've been up to then you'd already know. So there!

I'm not going to give ya'll a play by play of what has been going on here because frankly that would take too long and be pretty impossible.

The bottom line: I'm fine, Peace Corps volunteers are dropping like flys, and school is almost over for the year. In fact, graduation is tomorrow. So my days are mostly filled with two protein shakes from GNC and a lunch meal, broken up by endless hours of watching TV shows on and some form of exercise.

I was on my jog tonight and almost came to tears. I walked through my neighborhood to the city plaza where they have music playing for anyone who is there, mainly exercising people, and answered all of the "Good Evenings" and "Hello, Ma'am's" that I received ( Filipinos are very polite this way, everyone you pass gets a greeting, whether you know them or not) and proceeded to begin jogging.
The music that plays at the plaza is a very eclectic mixture, sometimes all Beiber all the time, sometimes AC/DC, tonight it was Big Band Era; fine by me. I jogged past the soccer field and said hello to 10-12 of my males students, and kept on going..then I reacted the basketball courts. From this standing position you can see the basketball courts and beyond to a fountain and small playground for the children. And all at once it hit me. It might of been Bing Crosby crooning in my ear, it might of been the sight of all the city coming together to play sports, or it might have been the simple elegance of the fountain...but I was instantly thrown back into 1950's American culture. I mean, you can't find this in America anymore, the simple act of being a community and enjoying company outdoors without the constant drone of cell phones or Xbox...and it's so nice to

You can't get this in America, at least, not where I'm from.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Warned You All I Was Bad At Blogging

Since it has been so long since my last blog post I figured that I needed to give ya'll an update. Things have been quiet busy here in the past few weeks so this is a highly condensed version.


The Filipino version of Mardi Gras. This a huge festival that our clusters attended through the kind invitation of the DepED department in Bacolud. The festival itself dates back to the "Filipino Depression" times when the sugarcane industry was in tatters, so the people put on smiling masks in defiance and went out and party'd it up in the streets. All of the schools in the area create elaborate dance routines and masks in hopes of joining in the final dance performance, alas only 11 schools were chosen, 7 elementary schools and 4 high schools.

Because we were invited guests, and we're American, we were given awesome seats to watch the performances from, and the performances were equally as awesome. I don't think I've ever seen a dance that well choreographed from 6-15 year olds, or ever for that matter. The costumes were beautiful and the enthusiasm the dancers had for the festival was blatantly obvious. The only downside to this whole experience was that the judges wanted to rule out the chance that the music choices for the dance might affect their scores, so we listened to the same song being played for 6 hours straight. Now don't get me wrong, the song was catchy the first or second time you heard it, maybe even the third, but after the 50th time it started to grate on my nerves.

After the dancing ended we ate at a street restaurant and enjoyed some truly spectacular chicken inasal and spent the remainder of the night visiting with our own cluster mates, and all of the current volunteers who came for the festival. It was an event that I look forward to coming to again in the future.


My cluster mate Andrew recently received a package from back home, in this magical box of wonders was miniature electric fans for everyone in our cluster..with Florida Gator logos on them; thus (even if I don't watch football) he has made me a Gator Fan, score a point for Andrew!

I Also received a letter from my old roommate in college, Leslie, shout out to Leslie everyone, she's the only letter I've received so far!

Also, I found out that my parents sent me two packages containing much needed supplies...what could those be I wonder......books and yarn! duh! Very much looking forward to those!

I want to take a moment to encourage everyone reading this to send their Peace Corps volunteer a letter from home, emails and Facebook are nice, but there's nothing quiet like opening a handwritten letter from home, and boy does it notch the enthusiasm and happiness over here up a few levels!
Our training is starting to come to a close now with our LPI ( Language Test) next week, and then our counterparts conference the week after that. So with that we're starting to pack our things and say goodbye to our current host families. I will really miss my family here, they have been nothing but kind and generous by having me here. I know without a doubt that I will be visiting them in the future and hope to repay their kindness in anyway that I can.

That's all for now folks!