Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Last Saturday we had our final meeting at Doug's house in Concord. We talked to Marla, peppering her with plenty of questions (as if we'll ever run out), mainly about finances and what we should and shouldn't bring. It was our last time seeing her before we leave, and she wished us a safe and happy trip. We also handled some of the last-second paperwork for our visas and talked about the intinerary.
This weekend we'll be heading to the Northeast Link, a conference for teams and team leaders in the GSE program. We'll meet other teams traveling to different places and learn about diplomacy and the opporunities that come with spending time abroad. It's an all-day program, and I expect to leave armed with a lot more knowledge about what I can expect from this trip.
I've checked out the conference's Web site, but the truth is, my mind is a week ahead of itself. I've made my packing list and making sure I've made all the preparations, called who I need to call, and taken care of everything with my job. Hopefully I'll only need to pack once, and won't promptly dump out my suitcase to make sure I have everything.
Well, that's all for now. Catch you next time!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
February 6 – 8 FLY
February 8 – 12 Zamboanga City
February 13 – 15 Pagadian City
February 15 – 17 Dipolog City
February 17 – 19 Kabankalan City
February 19 – 22 Bacolod City*
*Side trips to Silay City and Victorias City
February 23 – 25 Antique
February 25 – 27 Boracay Island
Feb 27 – March 2 Kalibo
March 2 – March 4 Roxas City
March 4 – 7 Iloilo City
March 7 – 9 FLY
As the days remaining before we depart dwindle, we're furiously working to make sure all the paperwork, doctor's visits and other preparations are complete. We hit a little snag when we learned our visa applications had to be redone. But all seems well, and it looks like the trip will go forward as planned.
Last Saturday we met at Team Leader Doug's house to go over the cultural presentation which Laurie had put together. I for one was amazed with the quality job she did, and the rest of the team seemed impressed as well. She managed to take out notes (which were lengthy in my case) and combine them into a short, yet informative package. It won't be easy, trying to talk about education, industry, pop culture and family life in just 15 minutes, but with Laurie's help, the task has become much more managable.
We also got a look at our itinerary and where we'll be staying. We'll be arriving in Manila, then hopping a connecting flight to Zamboanga City, then taking a day off at the Jardin de Lavina Hotel. We'll be staying in the cities of Pagadian, Dipilog, Kabankalan, Bacolod, Antigue and many others. I'm sure each one will have a wealth of new experiences for us.
Last weekend I had an epiphany of sorts. I was walking through Boston when it hit me that pretty soon, the familiar sights and sounds would be gone. Not for good, mind you. Things like seeing the Boston nightscape or going to the pizza place near my apartment, catching a movie with my friends or making the morning drive to my office, all these experiences would be replaced by new ones. It's something I'm looking forward too. I traveled to Ireland in 2007, and since then I've had a great desire to see more of the world. Just three more weeks!
'Till next time, I remain your faithful Philippines correspondent,
Sunday, January 11, 2009
On Saturday we went to the home of Skip Doyle, a Rotarian from Northborough. Within his incredible studio, Skip took some first-rate shots of each team member, as well as some group photos. We all agreed that Jon's the most photogenic of the five (it was no contest), and that viewing the photos from the right angle can make all the difference. After the photos were taken, we had a brief viewing session where we selected the best ones for the trip brochure. There were some laughs as we gauged the best smiles and whether to use the casual group shot or the more formal picture (we went with casual).
All the needed paperwork has been taken care of (except for Max's passport, for which he has reprimanded himself harshly for), and we're fine-tuning our presentations on the different aspects of American culture, industry, and history to present to the Philippines Rotary. It's no easy thing, compressing decades of history and pages upon pages upon pages upon pages (that's no typo, folks; we've been doing a lot of research) of information into a three-minute presentation, but in the end, we'll make it happen.
There was a definite air of anticipation as we handed in our visa applications and perused the article about Shelley in the local newspaper. Everything is really coming together nicely. I'm definitely looking forward to this trip and the experience it can offer me. Just a few more weeks...
Monday, January 5, 2009
Greetings everyone, and welcome to another installment of the GSE Philippines blog. A lot has happened in the past week, so let's get to it.
Like the title says, we're down to our last month before we board the plane for the Philippines. There's still a lot of work to do before we depart, and much of the meeting was spent going over the various steps needed to take. Perhaps the biggest task left before us is completing our Powerpoint presentations. We each assigned ourselves a different area of American culture to cover; Laurie will be taking history, Shelly will tackle education and family life, Jon will become an expert on pop culture, and industry will be my subject.
We decided to make next Saturday a work day and complete each presentation. These will be shown to Rotary members while we're in the Philippines, so it's important we do the best job possible. We also got a look at the terrific introductory presentations which Shelly and Laurie completed, and decided to combine them, using the best elements from both.
We got a look at the new brochures, and man, they look great! Each member has written a pretty in-depth description of themselves, and next week we'll be going to a professional photo studio for some high-quality brochure pictures.
The meeting was held at Marla Luzzi's beautiful home in Weston. We got to meet her family, and she treated us to a fantastic Filipino meal. We had adobo, (dark-meat chicken braised in garlic, soy sauce and vinegar and cooked until dry), longganisa, (Philippine sausage), sinigang, (pork, fish or shrimp in a tamarind stew) and delicious Filipino noodles. Desert was halo-halo, which translates into "mix-mix." It's a an ice cream with mashed purple yam, plantains and jackfruit thrown into the mix. As always, there were questions aplenty.
There's a lot of work still awaiting us, but we've come a long since we first met a few weeks ago. This is going to be a life-changing trip for all of us, and we're not going to stop now.
See you next time!