– By Shikha
It took me a while to write this post- the last blog post for this course. I didn’t want to sound too whiny or generate any apocalyptic vibes. To just summarize my emotions; yes, I’m (very) sad that it’s over. But don’t they say that all good things must end?
The blues/ nostalgia
It’s been three days now that I have left Guimaras and returned home, yet there are moments when I wish I could wake up to the ‘cuckoo- dooing’ of the roosters, to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ or Garrix’s ‘Animal’ blasting from the ‘party house’ every morning or just staring far into the landscape of fields and mountains. For convenience sake, I’ve decided to call this feeling of blue as ‘post- Guimaras depression’; momentary bouts of longing for just a little more time in that place. Honestly speaking, I’d never heard of Guimaras before this course and probably would be one of the last places I’d imagine visiting. I can’t begin to tell how glad I’m to have not experienced the place as a tourist but to have lived there as a local. The smallest province in the Philippines, Guimaras doesn’t fit into the typical mainstream tourist spot and that’s the beauty of the place. As I had already mentioned in my second blog, Guimaras is predominantly covered by trees and a building or a modern house might seem as an architectural accident or probably out of place. But this is the geographical appearance that I hope the province maintains when I visit it next time.
View from my host family’s house during Sunrise
The learning outcomes of this course have been immense for me. One of the career routes that I’d always thought for myself is that of a consultant. The only issue was that I had absolutely no clue what it means to be a consultant! The job of a consultant always sounded pretty cool and productive; men and women in suits trying to solve problems of high profile clients. However, little did I know that consulting required us to spend less time in swanky meeting rooms (or small aircon rooms for us) and more time out on the ground to collect primary data. After collecting the data, we had to sort , analyse and translate the data into a form that would elucidate the entire picture for the clients. I’m not saying that everything went by smoothly. There were unpredictable tensions, conflicts of interest between business partners and us and also there were times when we reached dead end because of the lack of cooperation from certain parties. But do I regret any part of this course? Absolutely not! The challenges that I’d encountered has made me more prepared rather than bitter because I know it for a fact that I’ll face many more challenging issues once I’m in the work force. The course from the outset has been about transformative learning; a journey of transforming both the business and oneself. Our team worked hard to come up with innovative and feasible solutions for the business but it’s difficult to measure the impact on the business in such a short duration and would be self-complacency to claim that the clients definitely benefited from the engagement. But what I can definitely vouch for is the personal growth that I’ve experienced in the course. From dealing with difficult people to admitting and rising above situations where I was wrong, I’ve learnt what I don’t think I could have learnt anywhere else.
The day i tried making pakoras… Definitely one of my favourite days. All students were asked to prepare a dish from their home countries for their host families. A great opportunity for cultural immersion!
What happens when you clump people of 7-8 nationalities together? Well, it’s so much fun! The salient feature of this course is cultural immersion. Spending three weeks with this group has been very enriching and I couldn’t have hoped to have spent the past few weeks with any other group. Back in Hong Kong, I have friends from different countries but it’s been difficult to immerse in each other’s culture because of our busy schedules. But in Guimaras, we had moments of ‘cultural exchange’ which probably was one of the highlights of the course.
When it comes to the local people ,or Pinoys, I don’t think that I’ve seen a more hospitable set of people before. What really touched me is that the people were willing to give as much with the little they had. I had always heard of the generosity of Filipinos but I’m glad I got to experience it first hand.
With the local student consultants With My host mom, host sister and room mate
A leaving note of advice
For the next batch of students, my only advice to you is to apply if you want to have a once-in-a-lifetime chance for experiential learning and expect the unexpected (i.e., be as flexible as possible to gain the maximum). So good luck!!
Just to end here, it’s not over till it’s over. I’ll definitely pay a visit to Guimaras in the near future.
The last ferry ride from Guimaras to Iloilo