Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th!

Well, let's see, it's noon here on the 5th, so it's still technically the 4th of July everywhere in the US except the east coast. We didn't do anything on the actual 4th; no fireworks from China, no barbecue, no flag waving. All we did we each quiche and watch Sopranos. This past weekend, however, we headed north on the island of Luzon to a friend's house, where we celebrated in full American style by drinking cheap beer, eating huge grilled bacon cheese burgers, swimming in a river and eating watermelon seeds. Not actual watermelon, just their hugely addictive seeds. It was a great time, we just went up for a few days, but some friends from nearby came as well, and it was nice to see friends again and revel in the fact that people understood you the first time to said something, and that they not only understand sarcasm, but actively used it themselves! The river was awesome, mostly because it was clean, and the drive there was through lush, rolling green hills, the likes of which I haven't seen yet in the Philippines. The place we went on the river was a local swimming area, which meant a few things: nipa huts, videoke, brandy drinking and oddly enough, motorcycle washing and laundry doing. Bringing a giant load of laundry to a fun weekend outing at the river doesn't appeal to me, but you do have to applaud their multi-tasking. Some people rented innertubes which you could use to float a short section of the river, but mostly we just sat in the water, ate a lot and had a few beers.

Other than that, we haven't been doing much. Abby's classroom has been flooded for the past week, despite multiple claims that it had been fixed. As the water bubbling through the floor indicated, it has obviously not been. Plus her counterpart's wife is going to the US to study, so he's been a little busy. So she's been trying to work on her grant proposal, and keeping herself busy. She's attempting to get grant money so they can hold sign language classes for the deaf student's family members, who, amazingly enough, don't speak sign language. Most of us in the US can agree that having family members involved in a student's life makes a big difference, so obviously this will be really helpful for her students, not to mention the fact that it's almost insane that some people can't really communicate with their own children.

I had two big Project Design and Management workshops here at the end of May/beginning of June, and for most of the month of June I've been alternating between doing nothing and working on a Coastal Resource Management plan for the province. I have a few things coming up in the future though, as I start working on a biodiversity camp we'll be having here on Mindoro in October. Abby and I are also going to start work on a project at her school, a book club of sorts for the English teachers, not only to get them reading, but to promote creative thinking and also to introduce new strategies for teaching/teaching literature, other than just having students memorize things. That will coincide with Abby's library project, where she's hoping to get about 500 books for mid-level readers so that the kids can have access to easy-to-read books. Because virtually NO ONE reads here. It's nuts.

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