A Jubilant June

What a nice pattern of S.A.G. Family made and written by Bro. P.V. Joseph!

How is the month of June for you? Was it good? Was it bad? Did it bring you excitements or disappointments? If you were to ask me how was my June, it was truly amazing and fantastic, a truly jubilant month I would say. I haven’t had many photos for this month, but I really enjoyed the days of this month passing by.

Look at this! I’ve got an opportunity to ride a bike again here in Malaysia after several years. 

This good month started when our time of fasting was still ongoing. Of course, I had to adjust to some other things since I’ll be doing them on my own starting that time. There are things that are new to me like buying necessary things from the groceries by myself and writing a liquidation report to what I have bought from the grocery. During this month, I also had to go outside Myanmar for another Visa Exit. I had to stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia again for three days. I was a bit scared at first because I’ll be travelling on my own and it would be my first time to do it alone. But in the end, I realized that travelling by yourself for the first time isn’t that bad at all. Just enjoy your short vacation and be mindful of the things around you.

Aunt Aye Aye, a Burmese Muslim woman and a housekeeper of S.A.G., cooked a simple yet delicious food for me. She also joined me in our Iftar. How lovely!

Even the atmosphere around me that month have changed. I mean, there’s no one to talk to in your own language, no one to play Filipino jokes on you or share any news regarding your country on you directly. It’s just you, yeah… it is you. It’s just me after all. I tried not to reflect back the times that I had with my co-volunteers, but my mind couldn’t do it like an unwanted file bursting out all of a sudden from a full storage. I guess, it’s natural to miss them after many months of being with them. But then, I didn’t let my solitude affect me. Everyone in this community where I am living in is a family. That’s what I thought. Every night whenever I had to break my fast (Iftar), Fr. Paul and Tr. Yi were there with me. Or if not, Dr. Rosey, an American professor from the University of Utah whose job is to visit and teach students about research and social work for a month, would join me with my dinner. She has been a very good friend and a colleague of this institute. She has been helping S.A.G. for four years already (that’s what I heard, but I’m not quite sure of it) for the development of the social work program.

I and my new Level 6 students had a Facebook video-call with my former co-volunteer, Precious. They really miss their former Level 5 teacher who is now back in Philippines.

By the way, some of my upcoming 2nd year students had a hang out with me for a dinner one night just to refresh ourselves before the new semester started. I really had fun being with them and I enjoyed the food that we ate for it had been a long time that we ate in a barbecue shop. The last time we went there was when my co-volunteers were there with us. The 1st semester had opened on the second week of June technically starting with the young learners on weekends, as well as the regular and integrated students on weekdays after. I met new students most especially on weekends where I’ve got to teach children. I was assigned to handle two different levels and sections (Level 6 and Level 4B) this time. Children this semester are still good in English, but naughty and talkative that in every move you do or every look you have, they would tell you something as if the judges are giving you various comments. I admit that they are really different from my former batch of young learners and that they really are the complete opposite of them. However, I have to get used to encountering different kinds of students. I also met the new 1st years of the Integrated Diploma Program. Although they’re just few in number, their English proficiency is already very good because they were trained intensively before the semester started. And also, they were assessed wisely through an intermediate-level placement test. So, those students who didn’t make it to the passing mark have to attend the 1-year Preparatory Program.

Is this cake really for me?! Thank you, S.A.G. Students Committee! 

My most unforgettable moment this month was when the students surprised me on my 23rd birthday. That time was also the feast day of our very own institute’s name St. Aloysius Gonzaga. There were final football matches held in St. Theresa field one rainy morning where many students of S.A.G. watched and attended. I came late at 11 AM with Fr. Paul driving us towards the said place. We spent an hour watching the final football match of female students from different teams and then the match of the male students. We had to go back to the institute after that. In the afternoon, there was also a fantastic program organized by the students committee in welcoming the 1st years who are new students. Everybody had lots of fun seeing some intermission numbers from various students of different year levels. I attended very late for I had been sleeping almost the whole afternoon. When the program ended, some students and teachers said that they were looking for me and I was bewildered.

My yummy birthday cake (it was already sliced and I took a photo of it very late)

Well, I already had a suspicion that they’ll be surprising me because Facebook reminded them that that day was my birthday. In addition, they’d love surprising someone and that has been a common tradition for them. It turned out to be true as I expected. Fr. Paul told me to come in front of the house. When I was there, students and some teachers slowly came and gathered at my sight. They greeted me while they were shaking hands with me. Suddenly, two of my 2nd year students were carrying a birthday cake and I was surprised to see a big colorful cake of mine. One representative for each year level gave me a birthday message on behalf of their class later on. I was delighted to hear their message and they even took some pictures with me after it. I told my birthday wishes to everyone and then blew the candles of my cake. My day was even better for the lovely gift given to me by Dr. Rosey and it’s all because for the kindness and friendship I’ve shown to her. Even on Facebook, I would like to thank my friends and relatives who greeted me and also, the AdDU Arrupe of Social Formation and Cardoner Volunteering Program for making and posting my tarpaulin-like picture with a birthday greeting on it. I didn’t expect it though, but I really thank them for their effort in making my day an amazing day. At night, Fr. Paul treated me for a dinner in a restaurant. How can I ever repay their kindness? I’ve never experienced to have been given a great surprise from both students and teachers in S.A.G. If only I had enough money to treat them all but I couldn’t for I’m just a volunteer. It was also the first time for me to celebrate my birthday abroad. And for these things, I really had a very memorable birthday.

Here’s a very simple box, but inside it contains a lot of presents and messages from my sweet former girls May and Kor Kor.

I thought everything was over the day after my birthday. What I mean is that no one will give me any more presents. But then, someone left a mysterious box outside my room that morning while I was away having my first class and I was wondering who could’ve left and placed a funny box on a chair that was standing in front of my room. “What on Earth is this?! It would be very impossible for me to receive this Compressor: Automotive Air Conditioning and what for?” I thought and I laughed. So, I shook the box and hoped it wasn’t a bomb. Ha-ha! Then I began opening it and found out that there were small balloons, cards and presents inside it. The box then came from my former young learners (Level 6 class). I don’t know how they came up and planned for this, but I really appreciate their effort and surprising scheme even though they have classes in state school this month!

Happy Feast Day to Fr. Paul!

Oh! I almost forgot! The last day of June marked my one year of stay here in Myanmar. Time is truly fast. It feels like I have just arrived here yesterday and then here I am now, still happy, thankful and contented with the things around me. There’ll be three more months to go before I finally go back home. So, I’ll have to maximize my remaining months by making these productive and having bonding with the students and teachers here.

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