Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Last Entry From The Philippines

Well, the time is finally here. I've packed up my things, said my goodbyes, and moved out of La Trinidad. Nobody told me how hard it was going to be to leave my host family and all the new friends I made at site. My host family I will not ever forget...and I promised to come back when one of my host sisters gets married in the next 3 years. My host family are people who are so loving, giving, and selfless. AMAZING, AMAZING people.

I got to Manila on May 30th to start the extremely long process of being released from Peace Corps. There are just as many forms and just as much paperwork to be completed to get out of PC as to get in!

On June 2nd, three other volunteers and I took a night bus to Ifugao, the province where are friend, Julia, was killed. The official opening of the Julia Campbell Agro-forrestry and Memorial Park was held on June 3rd in Asipulo, Ifugao. The day was filled with dancing, speeches, and beautiful views of the mountains and rice terraces. We could only stay one day and we were back in Manila on the 4th. A long journey, but I am so thankful that I was able to go.

As I look back on my two years of service, I realize how much I've changed and grown as a person. I'm so blessed with the new friends I've made (both Filipino and fellow PCVs). The lessons I've learned were sometimes hard, but invaluable. I think I accomplished what I came here to in a new culture and be successful. I'm not really sure how to measure that success, but I know that if I could rewind time back to the day I filled out my Peace Corps application, I would definately do it all over again.

I fly home of Friday and I'm so excited to be back Stateside! I land in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 9th at 6a.m. I'm jumping into the thick of things right away and am taking a class at the community college. I'm planning on sticking around Worthington for about a year and then on to Grad School. Can't wait to see you all! Love ya!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Developmental Milestones

I have some exciting news to wrap up my final two months. I received a small grant to design and print Developmental Milestone posters to hang in the center's nursery. The posters focus on the developmental changes infants and babies go through. There are a series of six posters; 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months and 18-24 months. Suggested activities are also outlined on the posters. The hope is that the direct care staff, volunteers and on-the-job trainees will utilize the posters while working in the nursery. The staff has received a number of trainings on child development, but oftentimes, during the hectic times caring for the children, it's easy to forget what isn't right in front of you.

I have uploaded the posters onto my photo site and they are listed under the photo album called Developmental Milestones Posters. A friend of mine in Sagada, Mountain Province was great and took the photographs of the children on each of the posters. I also have to thank a fellow volunteer who loaned his professional quality digital camera for the photo sessions.

If you take a look at the posters and have any comments, suggestions or criticisms, please let me know in the next couple of days as I have not had them printed yet. I'm really excited about this project as is my center head and the others I've discussed the posters to.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yay! More Pics!

Hi all, I just wanted to let you know I put photos up of a trip I took to a cave, some pics of my new host niece, and, what everyone has been waiting of Mom and Dad's visit! The photo albums are called Cave Adventure, The New Babe, and Mom and Dad's Visit. Click on the link at the right under Photo Album.

I have booked my ticket home and I will be flying into Minneapolis on June 9! I can't believe that the time is so close to being finished here in the Philippines. I'm finishing up my last project for RSCC as well as working with a couple of other volunteers on some of their projects too.

Mom and Dad's trip was so amazing! It was really cool to have them here and meet my friends and host family as well as see where I work (and play!). As you will see from the photos, we got to many places and had a lot of fun. We started out in Manila and then went on our beach vacation to Cebu. While in Cebu, we hung out on the beach, did a city tour, and even crossed the chanel to Bohol.

After the beach, we headed up to the mountains to see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces (the 8th Wonder of the World), Sagada caves and then on to my stomping grounds in Baguio City/La Trinidad. Mom and Dad's visit went way too fast, but it was great!

Batch 264's Close of Service was held at the end of February. The whole group of us got together to talk about our experiences, what we've learned about ourselves, and how to plan for our future. Sessions were also held about all of the paperwork that we have to do before they let us out of the country (There is just as much to do to get out as there was to get in!), about service programs in the states to participate in, educational opportunities, etc. And the big finish was a huge photo slideshow that I put together with the help of about 5 other volunteers. It made everyone a little misty eyed and reminded us of the great times we've had during our two years! **TEAR**

Monday, February 19, 2007

Has It Really Been That Long?

OK, I apologize to those who tried to look at my holiday pics. The link is fix now and just click on the photo album called The Holidays 2006.

Time sure does go by fast, doesn't it? I know, a little cliche, but I can't help feeling it's true! I can't believe it's been a month and a half since I last wrote. I guess the biggest thing that has happened was my parents' visit!!!

We did it all while they were here! Beaches, mountains, caves, a lake, cities, country towns, etc. It was amazing to have them visit! I couldn't believe that mom and dad were here almost the whole time, very surreal.

We started out with a few days in Manila...not the nicest of places in the Philippines, but we made the best of it. The first night we had dinner at a restaraunt called Zamboang. Every evening there is a cultural dance show and volunteers are called up. No, mom didn't get up on stage, but a very drunk Japanese guy did. He hula'd right out of his pants! Thank god he believes in underwear!

There is an island in the middle of Manila Bay that all boats pass by when entering Manila. Corrigedor Island was the main military tactical position in the Philippines. The island offers tours daily and we took the opportunity to learn a little bit about the American/Filipino history.

Cebu was the next destination and we soaked up the sun (well, dad just got sweat soaked! Not used to the heat yet!) while taking a Cebu City tour and layed out on the beach a couple of days. There is a lot of history in Cebu...maily Chief Lapu-Lapu being intolerant of Magellan and chopping his head off! Magellan's Cross, several old Spanish churches, a floating book store on a ship as old as the Titanic would be, and lots of resorts. Our favorite was the Shangri-La Mactan Island really was a little slice of heaven.

After the sun and beaches, we headed up into the mountains. We spent one night in Banaue. My host mom was able to stop by the hotel for a quick visit. She was only able to stay for about 15 minutes, but I'm glad my parents got to meet my mom away from home. Mom and I really liked the shopping, some gorgeous carvings and wood sculptures. I was hoping that we would wake up to a spectacular view of the Rice Terraces, but the weather had a different idea. Luckily it cleared up and mom and dad got to see the 8th wonder of the world.

We then headed up to Sagada. I got my parents to hike to Lumiang Cave, the burial cave that I've visited once before. The cave holds the coffins of several of the deceased members of the community...some several decades old. I kind of forgot to mention that it was kind of a steep hike and there were quite a few steps. Mom and dad got through it like the champs I knew they were.

Our last stop during their visit was my site, La Trinidad and Baguio City. We enjoyed a dinner with my Regional Manager of Peace Corps and one of my friends. The next day we visited my center where the cook made a special snack of Pancit (fried noodles with veggies) and Fruit Salad. The took a tour of the center and got to hold some of the babies. Then we visited my host family's house. Just one of my host sisters with her new baby and my host brother were home due to a family event that my host dad had to attend. I was so excited that they were able to see where I have worked and lived the past 2 years. I think it was one of their favorite stops during the trip too.

I hope to get photos of the trip up soon, but i may be a month or so since I'm waiting on a disk from the states with all the pics. The mail is just a tad bit slower here!

Now I'm getting ready for my COS (Close of Service) Conference. This marks the last 3 months of service. I'm currently trying to figure what the heck I'm going to do after my service is finished. My plans are to go back to school for a Masters in Art Therapy. There are two programs that I'm interested in, one in New Haven, Connecticut and the other in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Before I can apply, I'm short several Psychology credits so I'm going to stay in Worthington for a year and take those courses. I'm so excited to see everyone in 3 months!!! As I said before, time goes so fast. I still can't believe I'm almost finished with this wild, up, down, and loopy rollercoaster ride that is Peace Corps.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bohol for New Year's!

The Holidays have passed and we’ve all started the New Year off right, right? Well, I know my New Year started out in paradise! Three volunteers (one of whom had two friends from home visiting) and myself went to an island in the Visayas called Bohol. We stayed at a resort called the Bohol Bee Farm and it was AMAZING! The staff were the so hospitable, we had a driver who took us wherever we wanted to go, and the sites were breath taking. The six of us stayed 5 days and 4 nights in this little slice of heaven.

Check out all of my pictures by clicking on the photo album link to the right and viewing The Holiday 2006 photo album.

Day 1
Checked into the Bee Farm. They had lunch waiting for us and then we had a few hours to relax, check out our surroundings and wait for our messages. That’s right, also included with our stay was the most relaxing message I have ever gotten. They said it was only for an hour, but I’m positive it was almost an hour and a half! Amazing!

Day 2
The day was spent on a countryside tour of Bohol. We saw the Blood Compact, a shrine dedicated to a blood compact. I’m not sure who was involved…some Spaniard and some Filipino. Then we went to the oldest church in Bohol called St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral. It was old and musty with lots of mold on the walls. It looked like they were in the process of renovation, but it wasn’t going too fast.

We then made the hour drive up to the Chocolate Hills. You can take them or leave them, but it is a natural wonder how over 1200 hills are almost identically shaped. There are several folk tales about how the hills were formed. My favorite is that two giants were in love with the same woman and fought it out by throwing mud at each other. Supposedly the hills are the mud balls that missed their targets.

For lunch we boarded a river ferry. While floating down the river, we ate our meal and were serenaded by a solo, singing, guitar player. It started down pouring and made the experience even more surreal.

The last stop for the day was visiting the Tarsier Foundation. The tarsier is the smallest primate in the world and is only found in three countries. We took a guided tour through a natural habitat. The Foundation has 10 captive tarsiers. We were able to see a mother and her baby. The great thing about the Tarsier Foundation is that they have a breeding program in which they release any offspring into the wild after they are old enough to live on their own.

Day 3
We decided to spend the day at the beach. Another volunteer whose site is near the Bee Farm spent the day with us. We got sunburned and walked along the main road looking in the shops.

The owner of the Bee Farm gave us the option of going into town at their Café in the mall in Tagbilaran City.

Day 4
Wake up call was at about 5 am as we were going on a dolphin and whale watching tour. We were driven to a near by beach and then we were told that we had to walk out to a large bangka boat. While wading through the water to the boat, we saw several different sea creatures; sea urchins, starfish, lots of different seaweeds, etc. We boarded the boat and were off to hunt dolphins.

The boat crew scouted and found a few different pods of dolphins who usually swam away from the boat. Occasionally the dolphins would jump out of the water in the distance. After about 45 minutes of dolphin watching, the boat took us to a tiny, remote island called Pamilacan Island.

Nita met us at the beach and put a flower necklace around our necks. She then took us on a tour of the tiny island, pointing out various buildings of importance. Nita also told us the history of the island. The habitants of Pamilacan used to be whale hunters. Only six years ago was the last time they hunted Whale Sharks.

After the tour, some of our group when snorkeling while some of us opted to walk around the beach and swim. We were the only people on the beach and the water was so clear I could see to the bottom when I was shoulder deep in the ocean! We all agreed that we were in paradise!

Nita also prepared a fresh seafood lunch that consisted of Red Snapper and Barracuda that had been caught earlier that morning. We were resting after a great lunch when a storm suddenly blew in. We were stranded on the island for an extra 2 hours. All of us took the opportunity to take a nap in one of the native nipa huts that Nita had built for any over night guests she had. One of the boatmen finally came and got us and said that we would go now. The wind was still blowing hard, but the white caps had subsided. All of us boarded the boat and made it back to the mainland in one piece!

Day 5
We said our goodbyes to the staff. As a thank you gift, the owner of the Bee Farm sent all of us home with a half dozen muffins. We boarded our plane and said goodbye to Bohol.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Roaming Around

I HAVE NEW PICS UP!!! Click on the link at the right and check out the photo albums labeled Ifugao Days--June, 2006, Out and About in Baguio, Sagada--June 11, 2006, and Thanksgiving 2006. It's been a LONG time since I last posted pics so enjoy!

The past month, I have made an attempt to rediscover my community. There are so many places that I had yet to see. I figured it was time to check some of them out since I’ve been here over a year and a half already. I have visited, seen, and experienced some of the more not-so-well-known places in and around Baguio City.

Adivay-Benguet Provincial Fair
This event is held every year in La Trinidad. Somehow, I missed the memo that it happened last year, but I took a few opportunities to browse the crafts and display booths at this year’s event. Everything from strawberry wine, to silk, to silver jewelry was being sold. All of the municipalities of the province had a booth with their specialties displayed.

Strawberry Fields
La Trinidad is also known as the strawberry capital of the Philippines. Inside the city proper are fields that grow any type of vegetable imaginable…also grown are the famous strawberries. I’ve lived in La Trinidad for a year and half without walking down the street on the outskirts of the fields. It’s a walk that should be done at least once.

Museum of Baguio City and the Mountain Provinces
I finally heard about this museum about 2 months ago. Situated in the middle of Baguio City, one would think that it would be better known, but if you blink, you would miss the hiding building. The museum is dedicated to the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region. A small, glass display case show cases the various cultural traits for each province. There is also an actual Benguet mummy on display. Mummies in this region are done in a bit different manner than what we have learned about from the Egyptians. The dead are strapped into a chair, bound, and suspended. A fire is then lit beneath the chair and the dead person is literally smoked, drying out the body’s fluids.

Tam Awan Village
Tucked into a far off barangay of Baguio is this village of reconstructed native huts. There are about 6 Ifugao huts and one Kalinga hut, which is rarely seen anymore. The village is also home to several artists trying to sell their various pieces of art. The artists are on hand to draw portraits of any of the patrons…for a small fee of course. There is a short walking path through the native huts. At the end of the path is a bamboo footbridge that looks a bit scary at first.

Maryknoll Sanctuary
Anyone who has a curiosity about how the Earth came about needs to check out the Maryknoll Sanctuary. It’s run by the Maryknoll Sisters who are a progressive group of nuns that do trainings about everything from HIV/AIDS and reproductive health to working with children in conflict with the law. They believe parts of all of the creation stories (big bang theory, the biblical creation story, etc.). The property is beautifully landscaped and a footpath takes one through the history of the Earth. A resident artists produces beautiful paintings and there is also an in-house weaver.

St. Louis University Museum of Cordillera Arts and Culture
My favorite museum of Igorot (tribes of the Cordillera mountain range) art and culture, this museum boasts a wide variety of musical instruments, wood carvings, and woven bags. When you walk into the museum, you are introduced to Igorot tribes through miniature replicas of native huts. There are various displays showing religion, daily life, livelihood, art and music. The curator, Ike Picpican, is very passionate about Igorot culture and educating others about it. He gave us a personal demonstration with the various native instruments and led a jam session in which we were able to try playing a few of the instruments.

Balatoc Mines Tour
Only a 30 minute jeep ride away is the famous Benguet mines. Another volunteer and I decided to do the mine tour in Balatoc, a barangay of Itogon, Benguet. Mining was introduced by the American military after World War II. Balatoc is unique in that Americans built this little mining town so as you walk down the main road, you feel like you’re walking in a Wild West town. The first thing they had ask visitors to do before starting the tour is to get outfitted with a headlamp and boots. Then they are lead down to the mine entrance. Along the way the guide explains various tools of the miners. The great thing about the tour is how interactive it is. Visitors are able to operate a drill, ride on an old mining cart, and feel the blast of half a stick of dynamite. The guides also take visitors into the operational part of the mine. The dynamite blast was definitely the highlight of the tour in my opinion. Even though the miner detonates only a half a stick of dynamite, it shakes the whole mine and the sonic wave almost takes your breath away.

So, mom and dad, if any of these things sounds like something you would want to do during your visit, let me know. I’ve enjoyed going to each of these places and I’ve been able to take something away from all of them.

As far as work is concerned, I’m still busy. This past weekend another volunteer and I facilitated a session focused on HIV/AIDS education to the girls and women at the Regional Haven. The Haven is a center for sexual and domestic abuse cases in the Cordilleras. Now that the end of the year is coming, everyone is getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s. Reports are being written and Christmas parties are being organized so things are at a small standstill at my center, but promise to pick up after the beginning of the New Year! Hope everyone has a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m headed to Sagada for Christmas and Bohol in the Visayan Islands for the New Year. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and write about it next year. Until then, take care!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cooking for 50

I survived Thanksgiving...

About 18 of us volunteers set out at 8:30am Wednesday, November 22, 2006.

Where were we going? Sagada, Mt. Province.

What did we have with us? 120 pounds of vegetables, 85 apples, 3 live turkeys, 5 big bags of groceries and a backpack or two for each volunteer!

Why were we going? For a fun-filled week of cool, mountain air, good food, good company, and to celebrate Thanksgiving of course...

The trip was probably the worst ride I've had since being in the Philippines. I'm not talking about the condition of the road, but the condition of the vehicle. We hired a jeepney to take us on the 6 hour journey as we had so much stuff that we didn't think we would be allowed on the bus. There were a couple close calls as far as motion sickness. We also are in the dry season so the dust on the roads is almost unbearable when in an open air vehicle. By the time we got to Sagada, all of us were covered in a thin layer of dust. Those with dark hair looked like they had aged 40 years.

Thursday was spent chopping, dicing, peeling, etc. the 100 pounds of veggies. All of us worked as a fine oiled machine to get our meal prepared. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a fine oiled machine, but a rusty, old clunker that chugged along and made it through to the end. We had all of the favorites associated with Thanksgiving! Deviled eggs, veggie tray with yogurt dip, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted turkey, squash, glazed carrots, zuchini bake, and a huge fresh veggie salad. 50 people attended our Thanksgiving feast!

My host sister was able to come along and experience an American holiday. We joked with her about if she would be able to handle not having rice with her meal for 2 days. She also enjoyed learning to cook common vegetables in new ways. I loved that even though I couldn't be with my own family, I had my host sister and good friends to share the day with.

After getting back from Sagada, the staff who attended my training of trainers session in October, echoed it for the rest of the staff at my center. They made several changes to the lecture sessions that surprised me a little, but overall, the training went ok. I think that the direct care staff understood the concepts and know how to use the manual.

Today, I attended an agreement signing for several Non-Government Organizations of Baguio in cooperation with USAID and the United States Embassy. The US Ambassador to the Philippines attended the event. Later this month, all volunteers in the Baguio area will be attending a Christmas Party held at the Ambassador's Baguio residence. The Ambassador is newly appointed earlier this year and is very active in social reform. She has been keeping busy with visits to various parts of the Philippines and has visited a number of Peace Corps Volunteer sites.

One last thing, I'm ok! The typhoons that are rocking the Philippines and causing devastation and destruction are far away from Baguio. Although volunteers are in the areas where there have been landslides and flooding. They are safe too, but please keep the communities that have been hit by the recent typhoons in your thoughts and prayers. Another typhoon is expected to hit this weekend in the same area.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Vegetables and Turkeys

Whew! In my last entry, I said that I was in charge of getting 50 pounds of vegetables up to the site where we are having Thanksgiving. I need to clarify how many vegetables are actually being collected for our feast. This is turning out to be more of an adventure than I had originally aniticpated.

Baguio City is known as the Vegetable Basket of the Philippines due to it's rich soil and ideal climate for growing crops. Any type of veggie seems to thrive in this region so whoever is based in Baguio (or La Trinidad) is in charge of rounding up the vegetables for Thanksgiving. Now, last year we had about 15 or 20 volunteers attend our gathering. This year is almost doubled at about 35 volunteers! That means double the vegetables last year which was roughly 50 pounds. That means we have to bring over 100 pounds!!! And if my calculations are correct, we are bringing 55 kilos which equals 122 pounds! That's just the vegetables that are sold by the kilo. We are also bringing 85 apples and 4 squash.

One of the things I'm thankful for this year is that the number of volunteers in my region have quadrupled so I have a lot of hands to help with the transportation. I'm also thankful for a host sister who has a boyfriend who let us buy most of the vegetables at wholesale price.

Did I mention that I was also put on turkey detail...that's right, me and another volunteer are going turkey hunting later today in an attempt to find 7 turkeys that will also be transported on the 7 hour trip. You might be thinking, oh, turkeys won't be that difficult to find, there are grocery stores. But I may have forgot to mention that we need live turkeys. Yes, we volunteers like to make things difficult so we will kill, defeather, and cook the turkeys on the big day. Let's just hope we don't accidentally kill one another in the process!

Happy Gobble, Gobble Day!

Friday, November 10, 2006

To My Loyal Readers…

As I look over the past 19+ months of entries, I find that I have been slacking in the last 6 or so months. I’ve been looking at the reasons why this is happening and have come up with a list to explain my once a month appearance on my website.

So, without further ado, here is the top ten list of reasons Jody doesn’t write anymore…

10. Yes, Jody finally has work to do and is putting in many hours working on implementing a developmental curriculum at her center, which will also be implemented nationally next year. Jody and Erin (another volunteer at an RSCC) held a training of trainers workshop October 25-27 for staff of their centers.

9. The new addition to her host family is taking up a lot of her time too. Jody likes holding the itsy, bitsy baby and spending time with the new mommy.

8. Another volunteer kidnapped Jody for a holiweek (instead of just a holiday, we have holiweeks here!) for her despedita (going away party). I think Jody and Erin might officially be groupies of a band called Wise Track in Manila…Erin more so than Jody. They can’t remember the number of shows they have seen now.

7. Fantasy Football is a popular way to occupy time and it’s among the volunteers too. Somehow Jody was suckered into the PCV league. After a very slow start, she has started to become a force to be reckoned with…her team is 3rd out of 8 (and she is already in the playoffs!).

6. Her mother emailed exciting news that Jody’s parents are for sure visiting! The only question is when? January? February? Who cares, they are coming! Now she’s getting plans ready for their visit.

5. Jody is too busy playing with her 4 year old host sister and teaching her fun English sayings like, “You’re so crazy!” and “Hang loose!”

4. Thanksgiving is upon us and she is the vegetable girl again. The logistics of buying and transporting 50 pounds of vegetables on a 6 hour bus ride is an enormous task!

3. Everything feels like the norm to her so when a random man on the street says, “Hey mama, I want to impregnate you!” or seeing a crippled, homeless guy getting his only crutch stolen by two men, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

2. Other volunteers regularly ask her medical advice since Jody’s mom is a nurse and has passed on her medical knowledge. Hey, when you’re in Peace Corps, everyone’s a medical expert! Jody ends all of her diagnosis and medical expertise with, “My mom’s a nurse and this is what she told me.” This validates everything.

And the number ONE reason Jody has been incognito is…

She is stranded in the CR (bathroom) due to an un-diagnosable foreign microorganism attacking her gastrointestinal system.

Well, there are my reasons. This update comes a bit early compared to the last time I wrote; mostly because my mom made a comment that I may have lost a lot of those who were following my updates. Hopefully this is not the case! I still miss everyone back home, but as I said in #3, everything really does feel normal (and yes, both of those events have happened!).

There are still times when I get the feeling of, “Holy crap! I’m in the Philippines, half a world away from my friends and family in Minnesota and the rest of the United States.” Like when I’m watching the band I talked about. They play at a place on the famous street called Roxas Boulevard in Manila. It’s an open air area, the band is on the stage and in the background is Manila Bay with ginormous ships anchored in the distance.

Until next time! If I don’t get on here until December, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. Take care!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Another month has flown by already! I know I keep saying it, but I can't believe how fast my service has gone! The past month I've been keeping busy with the developmental curriculum that Erin and I wrote. We put the finishing touches on the manual, which we came up with a clever name, PLAY! (Promoting Learning Among Youngsters). The training sessions were written and formatted into a training manual. A venue was located for a training of trainers (TOT) workshop. And then the TOT actually happened this past week, October 25-27 at Social Action Center of Pampanga in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Erin and I were the facilitators for about 20 participants from both of our Reception and Study Centers for Children. We had sessions about the history of child development, how to use the actual curriculum manual, how to do a lesson, practicing lessons, learning songs and games, and avalanching the training back at the centers. One of the ways we illustrated the main components of the curriculum was through a French lesson in which the participants were asked to learn a sentence in which they had never heard or seen before. It was fun to see them struggle through the activity, but eventually every participant learned the sentence and was able to remember it through the end of the workshop.

PLAY! is being piloted in Lubao, Pampanga and La Trinidad, Benguet, as I said, our two centers. The staff will use the curriculum for about 2 or 3 months and then we will submit a report to the Central Office of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development--this is the government agency that runs my center) in Manila. Then we will hold national trainings for the rest of the Reception and Study Centers for Children in the Philippines. VERY EXCITING!

Currently I'm in Manila battling some gastrointestinal issues. I hope to head back to site tomorrow, but a super typhoon is threatening to hit the Baguio area so I may be stranded here for a few more days. Hope all is well back states side.