By: Amanda LEONG Shu Yi
Prior to coming to the Philippines, I asked myself the three most important questions to ensure that I am equipped with the right mindset and vision, to explore my passion and to see the beauty of the goals that I have set.
- What do I want to experience?
- How do I want to grow?
- How do I want to contribute to the world?
Well, I will not be sharing my answers yet but instead I will compare it against my final reflection at the end of this course and put it up on this page. My fellow course mates, if you are reading this, you should try asking yourself these questions too! Even though it has been only four days since I have arrived Guimaras Island, I felt that a lot has happened, both physically and emotionally, and I began to ponder a lot on my values and what I sincerely treasure in life.
Upon arriving Guimaras Island, I was welcomed by a beautiful sunrise at Iloilo airport and the feeling was indescribable. Not that I have never seen such beautiful sunrise but the feelings were surreal because I am going to embark on a 25 days journey in Guimaras with group mates that I have just met for days, live with a host family, gain hands-on experience in the consulting field, and learn new culture, custom and business practices. The sunrise signifies the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
When I finally arrived Nueva Valencia, the area where my group and I will be staying at throughout the course, I was greeted by a clear blue sky, scorching heat and the welcoming and happy smiles of the locals. The smiles were so contagious that it wiped away all my worries and left me with pure excitement and happiness. On a side note, I would like to thank Beau for carrying my 20kg luggage to my home stay location where I was then greeted by another wave of warm and genuine smiles of my host family and the kids who surrounded us.
Born and raised in the city throughout my life, I was taken aback by how friendly and hospitable our host family is. Shiney is a 17 year old college girl who speaks fluent English and this made communication and cultural sharing a lot easier and much more interesting. I would say the the living condition and surrounding environment are a lot better than what I was prepared to expect hence, it is a pleasant surprise as I adapted to the place pretty easily without much struggles.
I personally think that the best part of my home stay so far is the presence of the village kids. They have been extremely companionable and protective towards us. Every day, for the past few days, they brought us to different beaches, took care of us (they are surprisingly very dependable and independent), hung out and played with us. They showed us the the simplest ways to live locally and taught us the local languages and songs. I was able to experience a lot, also the courtesy of the friendly villagers. From attending a nearby Catholic church, discovering the second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines, exploring various beaches with the village kids and island hopping to tasting interesting Philippines food, exchanging simple conversations with the villagers and star gazing. I was given many chances to really immerse into the community and environment and I am truly grateful to have fully utilized the opportunities given so far. I learnt so much about the people, their background, culture and what makes them happy.
My home stay experience has been amazing and I truly hope that my presence could at least provide a memorable and wonderful experience to my host family, allowing them to know more about me and my culture. I sincerely hope to stay connected with my host family, either through Facebook or mails, as I now see them as my second family who showered me with unconditional love and care. Moreover, I have jotted down the birthdays of the kids that I built connections with so I could send little gifts to them to remind them that there is this ateh (which means sister in the Philippines) who came, learnt, grew and hoped to contribute to the local economies.
Signing off! See you again next week.