Our Living World is Dying
Stacey Worman, 2006-2007 Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow
Date: January 6th, 2007
To: Undisclosed recipients
Re: I Found It On the Map...
A quick update today on my where-abouts and what-abouts...coming to you on the day after my 59-day visa to my 'dream destination' expired...
Almost all Filipinos know at least enough English to hold a very basic conversation with you. And since they tend to be curious about foreigners, as they don't tend to see them very often...flashing a simple smile has gotten me into a countless number of them over the past 59 days...on jeepneys, with tricycle drivers, at eateries...and the one question that they never failed to ask me was, "So how do you find the Philippines?"...And I'd always respond to them by saying something like, "It's very nice" or "I like it a lot" or "Beautiful country."
During my stay, I was thoroughly impressed with all of the young Filipinos that I met...in addition to being very bright and talented...and in addition to being fluent in their local dialect and their national language...they are incredibly proficient with English as well (I've spoken with many who have graduated college and who are now working in call centers).
And about a week ago, I went to a coffee shop with my friend Noy to meet up with a group of his friends from back in his high school days. And in this particular encounter, we were discussing complex issues with one another and they were using sophisticated vocabulary words that I didn't even know (of course I pretended to know them!). And during a lighter moment of that afternoon, they also wanted to know how I found the Philippines ...and they then explained, "You know, if you ask a Korean that question (there is a large Korean population in this country)...they'll say, "On the map. I found it on the map." ' And we all laughed...
And so in my final week, I had a new answer to that all too familiar question!
But now that my 59 days are 'over'...besides on the map... how did I find the Philippines?
I'll simply say to you that I only left the country because my visa expired....I did not leave because I wanted to. And I surely did not leave because I felt ready to! And while I could have opted to extend my visa once more, it also turned out to the best time for me to meet up with Kristina (roommate from sophomore year at Vandy and fellow WilSkills instructor) in South East Asia (Kristina has been traveling around the world since September!) And so while I was sad at the thought of leaving, I was also looking forward to exchanging stories and perspectives with a good friend of mine....and I was excited about being able to create some travel memories of our own!
And I'll just say that there's a very good chance that I'll find myself back in the Philippines in February...for seconds...
But in the meantime...Kristina and I met in Bangkok yesterday. Later tonight, we are on a bus bound for northern Thailand ....and from there, we plan to spend most of our time exploring Laos ...In short, I will be unplugged for a little while...
But I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I also hope that 2007 turns out to be a happy, healthy, and fruitful year for you all. This was my first holiday season away from home and I spent it with my friend Noy and his family in Iloilo ...swimming in rivers...corralling fish...climbing coconut trees...watching fireworks...attending a wedding...and killing native chickens (when in Rome , right?!)...not quite like we do it in Connecticut, but these past two weeks were thus far, one of the highlights of this experience for me...
Until next time,
Take care of yourself and so will I...