It’s 2017 and another month has just ended. The warmth of summer will soon to rise since we’re on this final phase of winter season. January has brought me some new insights and realizations around the place where I’m being sent. It’s actually my first-ever experience to welcome the new year here in Taunggyi, Myanmar.
Everything seems to be fine except from the times when we are missing our family. Anyway, I found out that this is the busiest month for me with all the consistent work I’m doing now in my classes and tutorials and the few holidays that I only had with my co-volunteers. The second semester in S.A.G. is still ongoing and several students are studying even harder on their academics. In addition, the number of students studying in the Regular Program has surprisingly increased. I can see that the institute itself improved a lot when it comes to the quality of education. Also, several constructions of classroom and workplace had to be done throughout this month in preparation for the upcoming summer classes. The students are also looking forward to learn more things in every subjects they are currently taking up. And as for me, it’s such a wonderful thing to see their guts and patience in learning English through the various disciplines they’re studying in this semester. Some of them would tell me that one or two subjects are quite difficult to understand but still, they never gave up on studying.
Special events like the Chinese New Year, 69th Myanmar Independence Day, Kachin and Kayah State Day were also the highlights of this month. It’s actually a tradition for the students here in S.A.G. to give something like foods to all their fellow classmates and teachers whenever there are any significant events here in Myanmar. During the Kachin State Day, most Integrated Program students and teachers were having fun which took place from five in the afternoon up to nine in the evening. It was the Kachin students who organized the whole program with the proper opening ceremony through prayers and closing remarks given by Bro. Joseph. Within that evening, there were sticky rice pounding competition which I and my teammates lost (at least we had so much fun playing it). It was followed by dances by which all the students enjoyed.
On the third week of January, Sir Karl, our program officer, visited us for the mid deployment sessions for four days only. It’s been four months since we last met. We’re glad to see him again. I and Bro. Joe were actually the ones who fetched him from the airport. During his first night of stay here, I and Don Antonio had a competition in cooking our own version of fried rice better known as “cook-off” just for fun and for bragging rights. There was no one to cook for us, so we planned before that both us will cook dinner for him and for the judges including Fr. Paul, Tr. Yi, Bro. Joseph, and Tr. Ricci. Unfortunately, I lost which was close enough in beating Don Antonio. He was ahead of me for just two points only. Thus, I had to treat him for lunch at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a prize for what he had done. Anyhow, the judges told us that both did very well in cooking fried rice. Not to mention that mine was like a Cantonese style fried rice and Don Antonio’s fried rice was Malaysian style according to Fr. Paul. I’d also like to thank Precious for her unexpected preparations like making the criteria and organizing such an exciting dinner. Throughout the days of Sir Karl’s stay here, he had to observe each of our class and some facilities in school for documentation purposes. We also had group and individual consultations as to know how are we now in our volunteer work. And of course, we went together to some Burmese restaurants and talked if there are any updates about Davao City and Philippines.
It was on the Wednesday afternoon when we had our third regular VISA exit and R&R going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I felt nothing special that time unlike before maybe because it’s our second trip to that place and you’ll only get a feeling of excitement if it’s your first time there. Well, I was also happy that time since it’s another way for me to enjoy my vacation and to relieve my stress from my full-time work. We spent our short vacation going to Aquaria in KLCC which was near to the Petronas Tower. We also took time to check out some things to buy in a well-known Japanese bookstore chain named as Kinokuniya. We spent our lunch at the food court where it serves variety of food ranging from all types of cuisines and delicacies whether from east, west, or middle-east in just one place. At night, we were exploring to some parts of the place we haven’t been before particularly the Chinese Town since it was Chinese New Year that time. We bought some foods and souvenirs, and we had our dinner there as well.
I also realized that everywhere we go, we could see some Filipinos working abroad. The way they speak in English made us identify them that they really are Filipinos. Sometimes either of us would ask: “How is Philippines? How long have you been working here? How often do you go to your hometown? Reality tells us that we need to work hard to support our family. For the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), they need to do more extra job like cleaning homes and offices, aside from being a caregiver or cashier during the night, just to earn more money and save some for the future of their families.
However, life nowadays is very demanding that to fulfill their goals in life, they decided to sacrifice for the sake of their loved ones for education and living purposes. But the sad thing is that it’s not easy like the way they thought. There was even one time when we could see a fellow Filipino working in a convenient store being yelled by a Malaysian due to some misunderstandings. No wonder that incident happened. I was saddened with what we had seen though. But then, I really admire them for their patience, understanding, and determination. After all, overseas volunteers like us are also OFWs. We should also follow their examples.
Life is a series of ups and downs. I pray every morning that everything’s going to be alright in whatever obstacles and challenges I encounter in life. I ask the Almighty to help and guide me to overcome my problems in life. Until now, I stay happy, firm, and strong despite the trials in life, trials that made me appreciate more the beauty of living with those people around me.
More photos with our students taken this month:
Thank you so much for the blessings you’ve given me, January!