Shauna Skog – Top Ten

The top ten things I am so glad I brought to the Philippines. 10. Sleeping mask — with little cups so your eyelashes can move around freely. Since I’m the first to sleep every night, it is definitely helpful. 9. Hand Fan — Purchased in the ChinaTown Market in Salt Lake City. More than one person has been envious. 8. Essential Oils — DigestZen for sure! I’ve also used/shared OnGuard+ capsules, lavender, and grapefruit. 7. First Aid kits — These babies have been well used. Bandaids, Neosporin, Tums, ibuprofen, NiQuil, Chloraseptic, ExLax, Benadryl cream, instant ice packs. Weirdly, I have not dispensed Imodium. 6. Bandanas — Indispensable as a headband; they dry quickly and return to service. 5. IPod — Perfect for grounding me and feeding my soul. Noise canceling headphones was a fabulous purchase. 4. Puma socks –Moisture wicking. I need not say more. 3. Camera — This item was ‘lost’ for two days. I even tried to buy another one but they were unavailable or #outofstock 2. Brain — Despite small moments of forgetfulness or scatterbrain incidents, my brain continues to serve me well. I’ve fielded many questions about rashes, aches. pains, and various other symptoms. 1. Stickers — Inexpensive, lightweight, extremely portable and capable of bring large amounts of happiness....

Jake Knudsen – Working Hard, or Hardly Working

The first day was a very interesting day. I had some rough trials, met some life-long friends, learned that you can make balls out of coco leaves, and learned that the weather comes and goes just like the wind blows. I took a hard pass on the cheese flavored ice cream and decided to go for a classic…cookies and cream…7 scoops. I enjoyed my delectable ice cream with a hand carved popsicle stick. As we got stuck in traffic on the way home, we had to take some backroads and shortcuts to make it home safely in a respectable amount of time. From the fast food to the homemade food from the local culture, words cannot even describe how delectable the food is here in the Philippines. I’m currently enjoying myself a package of mini mentos with 2 new flavors-cranberry and yuzu. Not only one pack, but four. It’s really inconvenient because there’s only 5 per package so it’s nothing like what we have back home. But it’s actually five now because I decided to open myself up another package of happiness. I met my new best friend. His name is Tristan and he is in the 6th grade. The first day I ever met him, he taught me the glorious trick of how to make a coco ball and ever since then he’s been giving me one every morning for the past 4 days….we’ll be back-dinner is...

Shauna Skog – Food, glorious food for body and soul

Fresh fruit from the Philippines is simply incredible. Mangos, bananas, watermelon, and pineapple have been included in our meals. As you know, food tastes better when it is prepared with love and every meal we have been served has been beyond deletable. However, today lunch was awesomely divine. We had a sort of clear noodle salad with vegetables, tuna steaks, mangos, watermelon, pineapple, and chop soy. I went to the canteen (which is really a wooden shack) to thank the ladies for once again. This is not a fully equipped kitchen.  All cooking is done over an open flame using wood and charcoal and still the result is magnificent. At the beginning of the week , we were introducing ourselves by sharing something we like to do. My first thought was my love of camping, enjoying the trees, clouds, sky, and relaxing with friends and family. Well, this is the Filipino life. In my observances here on the island of Panay, their homes are built from wood, bamboo, and sometimes cement. Generally, they do have electricity unless there is a commonly occurring brown out. All food is cooked over an open fire.  Laundry is done by hand and hung on clothes lines to dry. Showers are bucket showers. There is running water but only from one faucet with one temperature: warm. No dishwashers but the Filipino hospitality provides you with clean glasses, something to drink, and snacks.   I received several handmade thank you cards from the students at Maacin Elementary school. I’ve been there four times and to the other two schools twice each. Anyway, these are “my kids.”...

Shauna Skog – Simple needs of life

First, a shout out to my sister in Portland: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It’s 10 p.m. local time. And to my brother and his fabulous wife: HAPPY 21st ANNIVERSARY! Five a.m. is awfully early but it was my turn to go to the wet market to procure our food for the day. I confess, I rolled over and was instantly back to sleep. But Rhen is persistent and I made it out of bed. (Rhen Potato is ROW’s man-on-the-ground here in the Philippines. He is funny, has a great singing voice, and is the only ‘edible species of human’ as he likes to say.) My eyes opened about half-way to the market. They were wide open when I saw the “pet store” at the entrance.  Lots of fish were swimming about in clear plastic soda pop bottles. In fact, a kiddie swimming pool was filled with these little black fishes. If amphibians aren’t your thing, you can purchase a hamster.  Or a wild chicken. That is the range of selection variety. Inside the building structure, the next thing I saw was rows of naked chickens – no feathers – standing to attention trying to catch the consumer’s eye. It worked; Rhen bought three chickens for our lunch. We strolled through the rest of the aisles. For those faint of heart or with vegetarian tendencies, I will limit my comments here. I did see several naked pigs/hogs (what’s the difference?) I also observed a young man shaving a boar’s head – he must have had whiskers. Skyler was very interested in the stingray and spent a few minutes talking with the shop owner....

Rick Graham – First Week Concluded

Today the Team completed its first week.  The lessons and activities the team prepared have all been given and the work effort will now shift from teaching kids each day to other cultural and labor related activities. Each member of the team did an incredible job preparing for and teaching their lessons.  And, the lessons were outstanding.  Today ended with each team providing an ice cream party for their school kids,  Where these kids live, they seldom, if ever eat ice cream so this activity was a real cool (literally) experience for them, and it was fun for us to provide it.  The flavor of the day was Cookies and Cream.  It was no small feat getting the ice cream to each school when the Jeepney ride alone was over an hour.  Even with the long distance and the heat of the day, it was remarkable that the ice cream stayed frozen.  It was hard frozen, just ask Lindsey who was the scooper at Imparayan School, or just check out the new gun she developed on her right arm.  Since this was the last day of teaching and being with the school kids each day, the Team had to say farewell to their new friends.  That is not always easy, for the Team and the school kids, but I was proud the our team kept their emotions in check.  I probably had the hardest time.  It kills me to say good-bye, even for just a year.  The remarkable result of these expeditions is that you become very attached to these wonderful and loving filipino kids, and their teachers.  In...

Anna Jarman – Yayayayay

Holy, it is always so hot here, I don’t think I’ve sweat so much in my entire life combined as I have here, but it’s still pretty great.  Going to the school is the best part of the day by far.  I’ve talked to lots of kids and it has been super fun, John Clem and Leizel Ann are the cutest little kids I’ve ever met.  They have the biggest smiles and I love the way they say English words.  We have made up some super cool handshakes that we do at least 5 times an hour.  I can already tell I will miss them so much once we leave!!  We went on a hike today and the kids held both my hands the entire way up and down, which sometimes made hiking difficult but was so worth it.  We get to help shave bamboo skin off with machetes, it’s actually something I kind of enjoy doing.  You kind of find a rhythm of scraping the machete back and forth.  Once you finish, the bamboo is so smooth, kind of like life.  The second best part of each day is the mangoes.  I wasn’t a huge mango fan back in the states, except for the dried ones from costco, but these mangoes are something else.  They’re super slimy on the inside and very soft.  It reminds me of how people eat oysters? or clams? I don’t know which one people eat out of the shell like that, but anyway, these mangoes are good.  One of the best things about this trip has been the people who have come.  Marie...

Marie Burnett-Kamusta!!!

Magandang umaga! My week has been great so far!  The kids at my school are so cute and adorable.  I have been amazed at how much I have come to love them after just a few days.  I can’t believe that tomorrow is my last day with them.  (It makes me sad just thinking about it!)  They were a little shy the first day of class, but warmed up to us very quickly. I sometimes feel bad though because they are all so good at remembering my name, even the kids I play with at recess that aren’t in my class, but I am horrible at remembering their names so I have to ask them often. I taught my lesson on Wednesday and it went well, the kids seemed to love the activity!  After teaching in the morning, we help local people build bamboo furniture.  It is really cool to help with the furniture but I feel bad sometimes because I am not very good at shaving the bamboo with the machete and they are making this furniture to sell in the market.  But even when I am not as good as they are or I am very slow, they are still so patient with me and the rest of my group and are happy to show us how to do things multiple times, always with a smile. Love and miss ya, fam! xoxo RIA (PS The food is yummy and I haven’t gotten sick...

Ben Berg-HEY MOM!

:). Me and charlie are doing well. We made a lot of friends. We teach at schools. It is fun. Mangos are good. We are making memories and becoming better people. tomorrow is going to be a great day! much...