Of pillow fights and a summer of a lifetime

Today I received a letter from CISV, and it reads:

We hope this letter finds you well after your CISV program, and that you had a great summer. As you adjust to life back home, we’re writing to thank you for the hard work that made your delegates’ program something that they will remember all their lives. You will remain a memory that lives on as a key part of their CISV experience…

Okay, so let me just explain the phrases I’ve emphasized:

1. “As you adjust to life back home” – first, I believe I have well adjusted already as it has been two months after the program and second, my home is Manila but I live in San Francisco which is quite interesting, to have led a US delegation.😉

2. “delegates’ program” – it was OUR (as an adult) program in as much as it was theirs, only that kids’ safety-and-overall wellbeing is always put first.

3. “you will remain a memory” – OK, i gasped as I read this part. But when i read the next words, I was fine. I don’t want to remain a memory ‘fo sho.

Anyway, a couple of months back I was exploring the universe called the Internet, and I stumbled upon a beautiful, beautiful Facebook album that was entitled “Belgium 2007.” Thinking that I could see through Belgium in the eyes (or screen, at that) of a traveler I clicked it happily and ta-da! There I saw a beautiful, beautiful Village (so said the caption) and a mix of wonderful faces, of different skin colors with the same smiles plastered on their faces. It didn’t look like that normal travel album of people posing against a massive church backdropped by tourists in their big backpacks, rather, it was one of those that looked like these:

A couple of months later, I was able to post my own album of that sort. Yes, the images above are from my camp, Maria Bonita in Mexico.

Thanks to the caption in the album, I Googled CISV and the next thing I knew I was going to bring four 11-year-old kids from San Francisco to Mexico for a month. No big deal. Just me acting as a legal guardian of four kids… did you say pressure?

I didn’t really know what I got myself into. Even after I committed myself into it. Don’t get me wrong, I am a responsible person (or so I think) and it’s just that all the preparation for this, the idea of representing the U.S. was… challenging. Especially that it was my first time, not to mention that I had to wrap up an internship because of this… let alone the fact that I was only living in the U.S. for a little over a year. What, represent the Western culture? Eh, Pinay na Pinay po kaya ako. =/ Soy la Filipina pero vivo en San Francisco! Jajaja!😉

Nevermind, waking up to these doesn’t take some getting used to:

How we wake up in the morning. A pillow fight with my delegates.

activity time!!! running in the middle of the day (hello, sun) was a routine.

And it wasn’t plainly about the activities and the learnings that come from them but more importantly, it was THE people that we met that made the experience something that is beyond words.

our most wonderful staff.🙂

our lovely host family

“different race and different land, here we come to understand”

the amazing leaders

and of course, the FOOD.

quesadilla from the market

True enough, CISV stands by its tagline “building global friendships.” It may seem cliche or something extremely ordinary, as common as any other international organization’s tagline may be, but truly, in the sincerest sense of the word, it was all about that. Not just friendships actually, but a bond of a lifetime among amazing people across the world.🙂

these people.

And while I am back to Craigslist and Indeed for some #PR internship hunting, needless to say, it is SO WORTH IT. I love these people to the moon and back.

P.S. Lesson learned: contrary to popular belief, not all Facebook posts are shallow, okay? Well, the study mentioned “the more Facebook photos and friends” but I will post another entry on that. I have a deep belief in Zuckerberg’s mission of “connecting the world”.

P.P.S. I don’t think this post did justice to the amazing, amazing summer I had. But point is, check CISV out. Wherever in the world you are.

***

Some FAQs:

1. Is it a religious thing? A mission trip? Nope, it is not related to any religious group/organization but definitely it is a mission trip in which we aim to imbibe learnings that go around the themes of human rights, diversity, sustainable development (among others that weave in these ones) through experiential education.🙂

2. A camp? Did you plant trees? Nope, but we stayed under the sun enough for my tan to get tanner. And yes, there are swimming pools inside the camp but no, we did not live a very comfortable life. Wait, we did– we were fed well, three times a day, spent an awesome month with amazing people (what more could we ask for?) but then there comes the adjusting to different cultures, attitudes, explaining things in a way that children would understand and being opened to the fact that some kids do think more maturely than adults (seriously), besides the shallow intricacies of camp life like living out of your suitcase and what not. It was a lot of learning, learning, learning…

3. So, what? Nothing beats the experience itself in order to fully understand it (like anything in this world) but I don’t think that anyone who has done it before will not want to relive the experience all over again and that surely says a lot about it.🙂

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