Highlights of May

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Here’s to my last day of meeting with my Level 6 student, Sai Phone Thant.

May has been a great, exciting and memorable month for me just like any other months. And just as I hoped last May 1st, the said month has been a good one for me. Another month has come to an end and another set of wonderful memories have been collected as I walked along its days. However, there have been uncertainties I had encountered and feelings I couldn’t describe because lately, more and more people I’m being with had to say good bye. Where there are new people come in your life, old ones will go. But I guess, this is what we call the twists and turns of life.

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I had a chance to be a host during the Recognition Day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Institute of Higher Studies Young Learners Program last 22nd of May.

Hmmm… How should I start? I’ll start things off with my volunteering here. These days, we’ve been so busy with all the preparations for the graduation ceremony. It’s not just that. Last week, our business was stretched out for the Young Learners’ Recognition Day, checking of final grades and for the calculation of final grades for the Integrated Diploma students. But in the end, all were successful and I was very happy and grateful for these accomplishments. I was even appointed as the personal assistant of Fr. Paul which is a new experience to me. I’m not pretty sure if I can really do well my responsibilities as his personal assistant, but I’ll try my best to comply the necessary responsibilities of this position. Besides, I’m also learning to this new kind of experience. I became more open to the possibilities of accepting various new tasks here which are making my days of working here in SAG productive.

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With the Cardoner Family before the conferral started

According to the institute’s calendar, last May 28 was the graduation of the Year 3 students of S.A.G. This graduation was more special unlike the previous graduation done here. Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J., the President of Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) was here in Myanmar as one of the special guests in the conferral. It was an honor for me to meet him personally again since the last time we met him during the send-off activity in the Philippines. Aside from him, there were more guests from my Alma mater who came and witnessed the special program for the first time.

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My first attempt in taking a timed picture on the grass

During this month, I also had some fun and exciting adventures with my co-volunteer, colleagues and students to some places in Myanmar. I can’t name all of them since we had been to more than three places already. As far as I can remember, we had been to another waterfall and to a historical place.

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Mountain hiking with my Level 6 student, Min Thant

This might sound sad, but it’s natural to say good bye for your students. I was able to write a friendly letter and gave each one of them during the last week of our classes. The letter went like this:

May 16, 2017

Dear Level 6,

I hope this letter finds all of you in best of health and spirits. These days, I have been thinking about you and your classmates maybe because we only have few more days of meeting each other in the class. Sometimes, I would reflect back some wonderful memories we had starting when I first met you. Just to tell you that I have been busy with my volunteer work here in S.A.G. But whenever I see your face at school or if we are chatting together on Facebook, I feel like my busy works are gone.

Anyway, I also wrote this letter because I just wanted to say thank you for everything: for your help, cooperation, kindness, respect and most of all, for the 1 year of being with you. I admit that I was upset for some reasons. Sometimes, I would tell this to you: “Don’t be absent, okay? If you’ll be absent, you have to pay it by attending the extended class.” I always tell this to you because I don’t want you to miss our class so that I can spend time with you. I would feel sad whenever you’re absent in class. My days wouldn’t be complete without your presence. I would also tell you to speak English in class all the time. I know some of you wouldn’t like the idea, but I tell you this: I just want you to develop your English conversational skill because by the time you grow up, your fluency on English will not be as good as now. It’s also an advantageous and a good thing to have a foreign teacher so that you will be forced to speak in straight English. I’m always concerned with your educational system here in Myanmar, and I just want to help you as much as I can in developing your English most especially in pronunciation. To tell you the truth, I always do my best as a teacher to you every day, every hour, every minute and every second.

Before I end this letter, I also want to say to stay kind, humble, loving, and respectful in everything you do: to your teachers in state school or in tuition, to your parents and relatives, younger or older brothers and sisters, and to anyone. Even though I’m gone, I still hope that you somehow haven’t forgotten our lessons in class. Never lose your English, okay? Read more English books, magazines, or newspapers; watch more English movies with moral lessons; play games in English; and even though you’re not attending in Y.L.P. anymore, S.A.G. is still open to welcome you when you grow up. I might not be back in Myanmar nor see you again personally in the future, but we still have each other on Facebook. Anyway, I’ll meet you again for one last time before I leave this country or go back home. You’ll face more ups and downs of life, but I know you’re clever enough to solve different kinds of problems and failures in life.

Once again, thank you very much! I wish you good luck in your future studies. I know you can reach your dreams in life successfully as long as you try hard. Take care and may God bless you always. Just remember that I love you always just the way you are and in your heart, I’m always there…

Stay in touch and do chat with me anytime you like!

Love,

Tr. Dats

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Our last groupie in our classroom… Sigh… I’m going to miss these babies~!

It was on the 22nd of May when the young learners had their Recognition Day to give awards for those who made the cut and did their best throughout their summer study in S.A.G. Together with my co-volunteer Precious, I was also the host for the said program. In the end, it was truly a successful and fun activity for the children and their parents with all the marvelous presentations from the various levels. My Level 6 class performed the last during the program. By the way, I just joined them on their second dance. We gave our best shot with our two dances and later on was the throwing away of candies in front of the children. When the program had ended, I invited my students to come and have lunch with me to the usual restaurant that sells traditional yet affordable food. Three of them weren’t able to come with us since they still had their tuition classes, so only seven of them came with me. I really had a lovely lunch and bonding time with them. We exchanged conversations and played some jokes while the boys were busy playing games from their smartphones. Seeing them, it reminded me of my childhood. Anyway, we then came up with an idea of visiting to one of my student’s house just to pass time and for me to spend more time or seize the moment being with them. I told them that it’s not yet the last time to meet one another. I’ll be seeing them for one last time before I’ll leave on September. It took us an hour walking towards my student’s home from the restaurant we’d been through. There being in her old-fashioned but luxurious house finally, we stayed in her room for a while and played “Truth or Dare?” We had fun in revealing some secrets with myself and my students. We played hide and seek afterwards then basketball (not really with the basket, but just the dribbling of the ball). We also took groupie while we were resting on the staircase and in the living room. My student’s relative prepared some snacks and juice for us and I felt very happy and thankful to her. Her little sister also joined us eating the snacks. We talked and talked and talked until one of them bade good bye. It was already four in the afternoon when we went out from my student’s house and said thank you for her warm accommodation and hospitality with her family. I couldn’t forget that day: how I was warmly welcomed and how I spent time meaningfully with my students. I’m sure they’ll be missing these wonderful times we had together. When were on our way back to S.A.G., we still talked some things about their plans after attending in this institute. For them, they don’t have plans yet. As we reached S.A.G., they were fetched up by their parents one by one until I was left alone and returned back to my room.

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There was a surprise tribute ceremony for the outgoing volunteer, Precious held in the media room. Finally, she cried in a funny way!

This month has also brought me sadness because my co-volunteer has ended her service here. I am supposed to end my volunteer work this month, but I decided to extend for another semester which would turn into four more months. I’m not yet ready to leave my students and colleagues. The school still needs me. I have to finish what I have been working on until my journey as a volunteer is complete. I know that there will be more struggles and achievements to be encountered. However, I promise to keep moving forward with the help and guidance of the Almighty.

As of now, I’m alone and still waiting for the new volunteer to come. I’m still alright and happy these days because the month of Ramadan has just started. I’m doing whatever I can just to contribute for the betterment of the institute. With the presence of my students around S.A.G., I’m already happy seeing them striving hard on their studies. I don’t know yet what comes ahead of me, but I’ll always keep on praying for my safety and for the development of the institute. I feel blessed to become part of their community and this has been one of the highlights of my life.

P.S. Some photos are credited to my students, Mr. Tanguy (a French volunteer and photographer) and the Cardoner Volunteer program. I used some of your photos here if you don’t mind. Thanks a lot!

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