So I finally made it to the Philippines!!! I am still trying to get over the jet lag but my body still thinks I am on the east coast and is getting use to being 12 hours ahead! So far Initial Orientation (IO) is not what I expected. I guess because we are such a large training group (there are 144 of us) the only place that we could all fit for IO was a resort just outside of Manila. It is a really nice resort complete with real toilets and toilet paper, maid service, water park, and spa. It is quite comfortable but totally not what I expected at all. I don't really feel that I am in the Philippines right now. The temperature and flora make it feel like a blend of Charleston and Costa Rica, I am surrounded by my fellow American Peace Corps trainees constantly, and the Filipinos that I do interact with are all from the higher class and speak English. I guess this is the point of IO - to slowly acclimate us to the Philippines and the Filipino culture, but I can't wait to really see the Philippines and begin the uncomfortable yet rewarding process of acclimating to a new culture and language.
We did have a really cool show put on by Bahay Tuluyan, a non-profit organization working with abused, neglected and street children. It was a really great show put on by kids that have successfully made it through the program but made me glad I am Environment and not Youth Development volunteer. (If I forgot to mention, there are three sectors: Children Youth and Family, English Education, and Environment - Coastal Resource Management.)
I can't wait to start hearing more about my sector (Environment) and Thursday I will find out what region I will be training in and what language I will be learning! Can't wait!!!
For now I will continue to make friends among my fellow Peace Corps trainees, as we are told over and over again that it is our colleagues that will be our life line of support as we face the many obstacles ahead of us.