My last month of volunteering has already ended and I feel proud that I have finished it with flying colors. So many things have happened already throughout this journey. I have found that it is difficult for me to string the words together with all the mixed thoughts I have now. Whether it is big or small, good or bad, easy or difficult, I still feel thankful for every moments that had come to me.
As far as I can remember, my September started when I was invited to go to Aunt Ella’s house to have a simple Eid’l Adha celebration there. We rode a taxi going to their house with her children who were missing me as well. When I reached to their home, I was able to know her family more and more even though there was some sort of language barrier. I tried speaking basic Burmese greetings and compliments to them as best as I could. But then, I really had a memorable time with her family there.
Because it was another special celebration for us, I cooked Filipino style chicken macaroni and sweet macaroni for everyone. I also brought two containers for everyone involved in the celebration. My first attempt in making chicken macaroni was a success and both desserts were really good as what they told me.
Later that time, I and some of my students (almost all of them were 2nd years) gathered in their hostel as I was also invited by them. We had a simple and early send-off feast before all of them had to take their final exams and later go back to their hometown and study for their distance education often called U.D.E. (University Distance Education). Everyone was happy and I was happy too. I’m sure they were missing home after a year of studying day education here in S.A.G.
This last month was more like a month of adventure and travel as I had to go outside Myanmar twice. It’s good to know that I toured around Bangkok, Thailand again after a year of volunteering work. In addition, my third visit to this country was the time when I met my new fellow Cardoner volunteers, Christine Grace (CG) and Joni. I’m glad that I’ll never be alone in working again. Ha-ha!
I was also reunited with some of my former youngsters (Level 6) as we had a surprise birthday celebration to one of them and that was May. Our planned surprise celebration for May’s 13th Birthday one evening went well, and I’m glad to see my former youngsters getting matured and reunited after 4 months of not seeing one another. I was able to track down their growth and maturity as they are now teenagers. Their unexpected presence made me feel even more excited and happier. Still, I’m hoping to see them all completely next time.
Even though my volunteering is done, there are still so many things that make me frustrated or sad about Myanmar, like the lack of a good-quality education and the occurrence of child labor. This U.D.E. System of students is such a pitiful fact as one might ask: What will they learn? Will there be a brighter future for them? Why is it just as short as 10 days for them to attend classes and merely memorize their lessons without proper training? There would be no real development for its nation if such educational system is being implemented over and over again. It’s not fulfilling the goals of education at all. You can also see working children in most tea-shops or in any other working environment which has been another issue that couldn’t be solved for now. Many of them couldn’t afford going to school and that’s why they work in daytime to support their family. It needs special attention by the government though. However, I do believe that these will come to an end sooner or later. As long as these issues exist, I would never be at ease. Seeing these problems makes me feel motivated to somehow contribute something more in a community and help these people.
Throughout my volunteering journey, I got lots and lots of realizations:
- Because of volunteering, I was able to know things I never knew.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to have an opportunity to add something new to my experience and to serve others.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to appreciate the comradery with my fellow volunteers as well as the idea that someone may benefit from my skills and actions. I may be far away from my family, but as long as I’m working productively with my co-volunteers and spending some fun times with them, it really feels that I’m at home.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to acquire new skills, perspectives, stuff and trends in life I’ve never thought.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to know more and more people and foster friendships among them.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to know that teaching profession is really meant for me.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to reach to places that were once impossible for me to venture.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to recognize right from wrong.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to appreciate and understand Burmese culture, as well as learn their language bit by bit.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to make some small, but significant difference in someone’s life. I had known and felt it in my heart. That had been my everyday goal, especially when dealing with youths: to achieve up to their potential and to be as positive in their lives as I can possibly be, and I liked being a positive force in their lives, who oftentimes had no other positive role models.
- Because of volunteering, I was able to help and cheer up the children from the outreach sites despite of their context.
- Because of volunteering, I found out that there’s a sense of unity with it that’s not found anywhere else. It really doesn’t matter whether you work alone, or with a large group, as long as you realize the importance of the goals of the community, and they are important to you.
- Because of volunteering, I decided to stay for more years until I can see further developments of the institute.
I think the best thing about volunteering is the sense of accomplishment after you’ve completed something: the knowledge that I’ve done something to make a difference.
Being a volunteer for one year and two months has been my greatest decision in life so far, I would say. In a world so obsessed with money, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to help others and not care at all about monetary rewards. I’m really glad for this path I’ve chosen. I thank Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), my Alma Mater for giving me an opportunity to become part of a community here in Taunggyi, Southern Shan State, Myanmar.
This volunteering may end, but the value of doing it is always in my heart, wherever I go. Indeed, I have grown, developed and learned a lot with the help and guidance of Almighty, as well as the people around me.
“Volunteering is at the very core of being a HUMAN. No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.” ~Heather French Henry