“My kid likes to eat rice!” “Mine plays basketball!!” “Her birthday is tomorrow!!!”
These were just some of the joyous exclamations of American 3rd grade students as they opened letters written by an international Filipino pen pal. Others came to me with questions, “What is ‘ma-bu-hey’?” And soon all students were scrambling to their desks with paper and pens to write a reply.
Once I explained that “Mabuhay” pronounced, “mah-boo-high” is a greeting of welcome in Filipino language, several American students began their own letters with this Filipino word and even signed “ingat” or “take care” before their name to close the letter.
Soon the Filipino student participants will be opening these American replies that I carried in my suitcase on my flight back. I am expecting another flurry of excitement and questions when I deliver this set of letters.
Some of my favorite quotes from the letters are below:
“Hi Leo, My name is Leo too!”
“I think you will be a nice friend. Please write back.”
“We play that slipper game in America too, we call it dodgeball.” – After I showed a video clip of Filipino students throwing flip flops (which they call slippers) at each other in the school yard.
I also read two of the letters aloud in the White House for my presentation themed “Let Girls Learn.” Check out the video if you have not already seen it:
From Sept 25 to October 1, 2015 a team of fishermen, municipal and provincial staff members, and your local Peace Corps Volunteer worked to remove over 250 Crown-of-Thorns (CoT) sea stars from a single reef in Barangay Canduyong, Odiongan, Romblon, Philippines. Here’s the video with English and Tagalog: Crown-of-Thorns Removal
Removing CoT was like working as an underwater superhero! The thrill of working hard to save coral reefs and kill venomous CoT. It was hard to stop once our bucket was full because you would see more and think, “Okay let me just get one more then I’ll go back.”
Now as I prepare to leave for Washington DC and the Blog It Home Winner’s Tour, my office will share the photos and videos of our extraction to educate other Barangays (towns) about the need and process of extraction. We plan to expand our efforts to tackle CoT outbreaks throughout Romblon province.
SJ Byce as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines. And Intern at CIEE Bonaire '17