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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fractured tooth, PCPP Grant, 1 yr anniversary and oh yeah the USNS Mercy & JMSDF come to my site to play hoops with my students

Since my bike accident, I've been busy with many things including taking a visit to the dentist, which discovered I had a fractured back tooth and I need a crown.  The crown will be put on later in the week.  The other events I will discuss, but in this blog I'll go backwards and write about recent events you may have already seen photos on.  If not click

On Thursday, July 5, nine of my basketball players & one hearing-impaired student (a student of a fellow PCV)  played basketball with 12 U.S. Navy from the USNS Mercy (United States Naval Ship) & 10 JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces) at Pag-Asa court where Kalalake National High School ((KNHS) the school I volunteer at)) hold their basketball practice. In the audience were 60 students along with 40 onlookers witnessing a game where all the players got a chance to play and have a lot of fun.  The day started with a few phone calls from PC staff making sure everything was set and it was.  I commend my school for being on time & Barangay Pag-Asa for letting us use their court for free.  Both being on time & having a covered court for free for two hours is a rarity in the Philippines. Maraming Salamat po. (Thank you very much).
At 9am, our school started walking down to the court and the players arrived there shortly after.  I walked with the students just in case anyone arrived early.  Once everyone was there, we shot around for practice.  Then, 3 vehicles arrived (one being a squad car) and I knew it was them.  After meeting, greeting each other, and everyone trying to get photos with the USNS & JMSDF, we finally started to play.  We played for an hour mixing the teams making sure there was a member of USNS, JMSDF, and at least two of my players playing at the same time.  It was a great mix.  My job was to take photos & I refereed the 1st part of the game.  After playing for an hour, there was a quick game between USNS & JMSDF vs. KNHS.  The players really enjoyed that because that's what they wanted in the first place.  After  a 30 minutes of playing, the USNS handed out girl scout cookies & badminton rackets to the teachers of KNHS for the students.  Simultaneously, the JMSDF leader handed out towels & a pin to the players & KNHS basketball coach Butch Atis.  The pin was a flag symbol of Japan & the Philippines together (equivalent to the pin I received at my Peace Corps swearing in except my pin was of the U.S. flag & Philippines of course).  Many thanks to both the USNS Mercy & JMSDF for coming to our school & playing with the students.  I hope to work with them again.  Again more photos on the link above.

One Year in the Philippines
The night before this event I attended a one year anniversary party of being here in the Philippines with my fellow Batch 270 Zambales sitemates.  It was a lot of fun with great food.  It's something, it was just a year ago I was at IO (Initial Orientation - in case you forgot).  It's been so long since I wrote or said those two letters, but that's exactly where the new batch 271 is at now.  Best of luck to them with their pre-service training trying to earn their "V" status.  I remember how intense IO was followed by center-based training in Bataan, but I also remember how helpful it was too.  My advice to the new batch would be to stay focused, but have a positive outlook on everything; you'll need it.  Staying positive helped me out so many times, I wouldn't be here now in an Internet cafe listening to kids laugh & shoot imaginary characters at a computer screen or hearing a neighbor sing "hey Macarena, AY!" over & over if it wasn't for a positive outlook.  Good luck & see you soon Batch 271.  A lot has happened to me both physically (still happening, read below) and emotionally.  I look forward to the next 15 months as there is still a lot to accomplish.  Again, happy one year anniversary to all my fellow Batchmates of 270.
Batch 270 volunteers in Zambales and all from the Chicagoland area
PCPP stands for Peace Corps Partnership Program and it's a form a volunteer fills out with their counterpart to possibly receive a grant for a project at their site.  My school's project name is the "KNHS Reading for Life Center."  We developed a new title at the advice of someone who looked at our grant.  If awarded, this will be to renovate our existing reading center.  The amount our school is asking from the partnership grant is $4,010.58 to cover materials & labor.  My counterpart & I finished the revision of the PCPP proposal on Friday; it took us all afternoon and into the night, but we finally finished it.  The overall project will be $5,365.81.  We have the reading materials to go into the reading center; now we just the space renovated.  I have my fingers crossed.

Fractured tooth
This past week I went to Manila, so the dentist could look at my tooth.  It turns out the bike accident fractured my back tooth, so I have to go back on Wednesday to have a crown put on it.

A look into the future
This week I hope to finally start talks on an HIV/AIDS project with my school.  The sooner the school decides what they want, the sooner I can fill out more grant work for that.  Ok, off to lunch now.  Happy late  fourth of July to everyone in the U.S.A.  Ingat na.