peace corps

Calauan

It’s been a little while. I have been super busy. Sorry.

I went to Calauan. Calauan is a place in Laguna. Laguna is 2hrs. south of Manila. Manila is in The Philippines.

Ok, so a not so long time ago there was a typhoon and a river. Well, one day during rainy season in The Phillies the big nasty typhoon decided to dump a whole lot of water in the peaceful river. The river was near the homes of several homeless and poor human beings. The river never had any intentions of hurting them. However, the big mean typhoon had other plans. The extra water was too much for the peaceful river, and so, she had to let out the extra water. There was nowhere she could put it, but on top of her poor but relatively content population.

They were flooded. Those who had homes couldn’t live in them anymore. Those without homes now had nothing at all. Luckily, the plight of these people was heard by local heroes. ABS-CBN and a woman named Gina Lopez. They came to save the day. 25,000 people were taken to a lightly populated town named Calauan.

Our heroes needed sidekicks. They sent out a call to a man named Dan Thalkar. He sent out a call to his friends and they were off to help. Houses were already built for the relocated people, a school was in the process of being completed, livelihood projects were created, and community relationships were being established.

Things were going well.

This is the story of Brandon K. Holly, a friend of Dan’s, and a hero in training.

Hello, I’m Brandon Holly!

My friends and I arrived at Calauan not knowing what to expect at all. We knew two things. We would be training teachers and we would be helping a community. We did not know how we would be going about this or what they needed help with, but we were a bunch of optimisitic idealists with all of the best intentions in the world. We were going to be fine. And we were.

The first few days were fine. We just helped train the teachers concerning student-centered learning. Teacher trainings always have their own set of obstacles, but overall things went fine.

Then, we found out that we’d be helping teach the elementary classes.

Alone.

We had to wake up 4:45am and we worked until 6pm. We all thought “This is gonna be a long 3 days”

My language ability isn’t bad, but it’s not perfect. And attempting to control a ton of 6-10 year olds isn’t easy when you do speak their language.

The first day was kind of crazy. The kids were tough to control. It was difficult to keep them in their seats, but it was only for 40 minute intervals.

The second day was complete and utter chaos. We stayed up “Shootin’ the sh**”” like my mom says and accidentally stayed up until midnight. We still had to be up at 4:45 in the morning. That was a mistake. We were not in the right mind to deal with the kids. Not to mention the kids already pegged me as the “fun” teacher. Thus, rules were completely out of the window. Kids were fighting, crying, and one kid just up and left. At one point I stoppped trying to teach them and get their attention. I just stared at the chaos going on around me. Some kids were hanging off of my arms, some kids were throwing paper airplanes, and some were sitting in their seats just as shocked as I was. I left that day tired and terrified.

The third day the kids knew I wasn’t happy with them and thus treated me with more respect. It was actually the best day for me. Partially because we were all allowed to get a couple of extra hours of sleep.

Well, one thing happened. One of the classes I had previously taught saw me walk past the window. They got all excited and ran out of the classroom grabbed me by my arms and despite my greatest efforts to get away they captured me. They then split up and some were trying to hold me down while the others blocked the door. It was cute and creepy at the same time.

At the end of it all, I felt like we actually accomplished something. It was probably one of the most “Peace Corps” things we’ve done. I love those kids.

Even though they were difficult.

Much Love,

Brandon Holly.

p.s. – sorry if my wording is off or grammatically incorrect. I had to type this quickly.

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