The 2010 ISLP Cebu program is winding down; I am writing this in the Vienna Cafe, the night before we leave Cebu. To say this week has been a combination of awesomeness and a deeper awakening to the suffering that is inherent in the human condition, would be an understatement! Taking this moment to reflect on this program, makes me realize how happy I am that I chose to participate in this project to complete my master's practicum. Although my traveling companions for this trip have been great, it has been working with the students in the elementary school and dental clinic that have made this trip worthwhile.
I feel my group, from Banilad elementary, bonded over the three days we worked together and this allowed me to have a real sense of how determined these young people are, and how difficult their lives are. At times my experience of the heat and humidity found me wanting to retreat to the sanctuary of air conditioning, but I would remind myself that I was choosing to be here and my students did not have the luxury of retreat.
I shared many laughs and several tears with my students over our three days together. They worked so hard on their speeches, which was evident on the videos I shot on day 3. They asked me many questions, "Are you rich?", or when I told them I taught at the university, "Are you a genius?", and shared touching stories from their lives, like not having enough money for an Independence Day celebration or that one student had lost his mother.
Working with Banilad elementary and the dental clinic exposed me to harsh reality that lack of infrastructure has on quality of life, but still dignity, sense of purpose, and dreams can trump. I hope everyone who reads this takes a moment to cherish the simple luxuries we are blessed with in the United States and consider engaging or supporting others in service work to help those who do not have these same benefits.