Spotted in Manila, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Big changes

Since arriving in Northern Samar, our team has been consistently inspired. The students fearlessly participate in class, are gifted with incredible soul in music, and so hungry to learn in every discipline we are offering. I am particularly moved when I realize the changes that have happened in Catarman since I was last here in 2012: the streets are cleaner, buildings are more cared for, and what I'm most excited about, Catarman National High School has begun steps toward creating a government sponsored year-round arts curriculum inspired by Project Philippines' workshops. Previously, CNHS did not offer any arts classes, however we could feel the school's deep commitment to giving their students everything they could, as well as their support for Project Philippines' mission and the arts in general. These qualities made it a perfect school to partner with for our residency. I fell in love with the students and staff at CNHS so it was so inspiring to find out that their commitment to the arts is even stronger than I thought since they are now offering arts classes, what they call the "Special Program for the Arts". The classes in this program are music, dance, theater, creative writing, visual arts, and media arts, and the students each have their own focus.

So with a changing program, it seems that the mission for our work here has changed as well: to work to educate the teachers on how to teach the arts. The staff that has been selected for these positions are passionate lovers of the arts and have had some workshops on how to teach their discipline. But with a brand new curriculum and no sample lessons, they have requested our help in developing these things. It is very exciting for me to think that real change is happening and something truly sustainable is coming out of Project Philippines. It inspires me to be the very best teacher I can be while I am here. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's so amazing to be back.

After 4 days of traveling, I am so happy that all the members of the Project Philippines team have successfully met up in Northern Samar! We arrived on the daily flight from Manila at 6:30am yesterday, and were surprised to be greeted by representatives of our future students at the airport. I was overwhelmed with joy when we landed in Catarman--I left the Philippines in 2012 with the thought that I may never see this place again. So to be here again, one of the most beautiful places in the world, that means so much to my musicianship, I was thrilled and so inspired to get started. I couldn't help but to weep with happiness. The team has had a couple of days to get to know each other and acclimate, so now I can't wait to begin teaching tomorrow! I am so, so happy to be in the Philippines.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sa wakas! Finally!

Tomorrow, my music teaching partner (and wonderful boyfriend!) Brian Gnojek and I will begin our long travel adventure to Catarman, Northern Samar, Philippines to begin teaching with Artists Striving to End Poverty and Project Philippines!!

The trip will begin with a drive to Houston, where we will spend the night, then a direct flight to Seoul the next morning where we will spend our 17 hour layover exploring and eating with an old friend. On the next day, an early fight to Manila, where we will meet up with the rest of the teaching team and spend the night, and finally another morning flight to Samar where we will spend 2 weeks working. It will be a long 4 day journey, but I am so excited for this long awaited month of teaching! I can't wait to finally be back in the beautiful country of The Philippines.

As usual, I will be regularly updating my experiences here (if internet access allows) for myself to track my own progress, my mother to know that I am safe, and for anyone else who happens to read. Philippines, here we come!