Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

Pilipinas, Maraming Salamat (Philippines, Thank You Very Much)

August 6, 2013 | Czarina, DVM, AFS Internculture Canada, Philippines, Gawad Kalinga (GK), Program Development Assistant

I am still at a loss for words about how to relay my Philippine internship experience.

First, how does one express that sense of peace from “coming home”? As a Filipino-Canadian going back to the Philippines after ten years, I had initially thought that the cultural integration would be a breeze and that this experience will rekindle the Filipino in me. My experience was beyond my expectations! While the language barrier and the “taste bud shock” was indeed nonexistent, I still had to adjust to culture differences. In an odd way, I realized I was both more Filipino and more Canadian than I had initially thought. I’ve “come home” not to any sense of nationalistic pride, but rather to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Also, how does one express that sense of admiration and awe that calls one to action? Through Gawad Kalinga, I’ve met Filipinos in various sector of Philippine society–as well as international volunteers. I’ve met professionals with day jobs, development practitioners, volunteer teachers from poor communities, university students from elite universities, out of school youth, urban poor children, and the list goes on. While every person I’ve met has their own story and has their own experience encountering poverty in the Philippines, what gets me is how much hope these people have for their country. They believe so much in the people they serve and work with that even though they may be faced with financial challenges and time constraints, they still manage to make time to work towards progress that “leaves no one behind.” And while the general pronoun “they” does not speak for all Filipinos, I’ve met enough who’ve inspired me to believe that “inclusive development” can happen and to thus look for opportunities to be a part of inclusive development in Canada.

Finally, how does one express that sense of confusion of knowing more but understanding that one knows less? If there is anything that this experience taught me is that no amount of class lectures, pre-internship orientation and even first-hand experience will ever fully prepare you for the world of practicing international development. I learnt I needed to be flexible and always ready to ask questions because the world I work in does not exist in a vacuum: every one (really, every one) is contributing to and changing the environment I work in even as I type (and you read) right now and there is just so much I don’t–and can not– know!

So, Philippines, thank you. I don’t yet know the full extent as to how much this experience has helped me grow professionally, but I do know that personally I have grown more emotionally mature and perhaps more ready to be a part of this globalizing world.