A toast to new beginnings.

-By Haider

As we wait to board our flight to Iloilo, I am excited but also filled with a little apprehension. Let me make myself clear. I am not apprehensive because I am afraid of the unknown. In fact, I particularly enjoy unfamiliar situations because they force me to think on my feet and to adjust quickly. What worries me is whether I would be able to achieve our lofty goal of helping a local business grow and thrive. Success is often dependent on a multitude of variables which might not always be in our control. While I am positive that I will try my best to create a practically useful strategy for the business, I am fully aware of the uncertainties of everyday life in a developing country. I hope that our time in the Philippines will allow us to learn and also contribute something of lasting utility to our assigned businesses.

This is my first trip to a South East Asian country so I am quite ecstatic about experiencing a different culture and its constituent parts, especially the local cuisine. One of the reasons why I applied for this course was the opportunity to get immersed in a foreign culture, instead of rushing and ticking items off the proverbial bucket list that most tourists invariably end up doing. I feel grateful that Hazel, our home stay host, has so graciously made space in her home for two people who she has never met before. Her generosity makes me feel welcome and removes the few doubts that I had.

Working for our assigned businesses is obviously the fundamental purpose of our trip. However, I also hope to use my time in the Philippines to effect some changes in my life. In the last few months, I have thought deeply about where I have come from and the opportunities that I have received only to be left with the inexplicable feeling that I may not be doing enough. Becoming complacent has always been one of my biggest fears. This fear has practically pushed me to achieve all that I have till now but it just doesn’t seem powerful enough anymore. Doing things for the sake of doing things feels mechanical and fails to motivate me the way it did. This has fortunately been accompanied by the realization that helping others is one of the things that make me happy. I believe this program can aid me in finding and developing a lasting source of motivation. I plan to expend all of my effort in succeeding in this program because I want to find my ‘green light’ akin to the one that motivated Gatsby to change his destiny. Three weeks may not be enough time to make visible progress but the thought of making decisive changes in my life is more than sufficient.

We are here!

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