Saturday, December 19, 2009

And We're Off

We are packing up the bus to head to the airport. We'll be home soon. Thanks to all of you who kept up with us on this blog and a special thanks to those who sent messages. We read them faithfully every day. We are all fine, a little tired, a little sunburned, and overflowing with excitement. Can't wait to see all of you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Final Reflection

Our work is done. We are packing this morning to go to one last museum and then a little time to rest before we start our journey back tonight. After several months of planning, 30 hours in airports and on planes to get here, and a week of working in four communities in Cebu; here are some final reflections...

We have a amazing faculty and students. Parents and families, you have every reason to be extremely proud. The students are not only talented and knowledgeable, but they have giving hearts and unselfishly gave of themselves this week.

The communities where we did our work were generous and giving. They gave us a heroes welcome each morning and were so grateful.

The sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells all made for a unique cultural experience. Our students were able to partake deeply of many things that the Philippines has to offer.,,mountains, city, beaches, forts, churches, temples, Jeepneys, street vendors, rich and poor, homeless shelters and high rises, and the largest mall that many of us have ever seen. It is a beautiful and rich country, and we were fortunate to see a small part of it.

We made new friends. The teachers, community leaders, bus drivers, local law enforcement officers, and many others befriended us. We leave a part of our hearts behind us here, but we know that if we ever come this way again that we will have friends who will welcome us back. We owe them a thank you for all they did to make our time here the most productive and pleasant that it could be. Several of them are following the blog, and we want to say thank you!

More Thursday Info and Pics

After days of silence I am finally ready to make a statement on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Simple words on this page cannot do justice to the what I have learned from both the children and the culture. Although Diet Coke is called "Coke light" and the bathrooms are called "comfort rooms", these people are very similar to us and our ideas of the ideal society. Though some may not have the assets to achieve their tangible goals they possess a certain attitude that cannot be mimiced with superficiality. Through my endeavors here I have learned a great deal about the possibilites of humanity and the "can-do" attitude. Simply put, this trip has changed my life.
On a lighter note, today (Friday) we spent the day touring the city and shopping. I dropped about $160.00 in the biggest mall I have ever seen and visited a 500 year old fort constructed by Magellan. The influence of cultures here is quite remarkable and there application is very unique.
Now, as we are finishing our last full day in the Philippines I am proud of the work we have done, happy for the lives we changed and gladly look forward to the future for these people. I only wish I could repay them for the impact they have had on my life.


P.S. See Jennifer I did do work.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Not much time today to write. Will update with lots of information later today. Everyone is doing well. We are off this morning to see some of the cultural sights.

Dental Team Update

The Dental Team and ISLP assistants worked all week in Paril at the high school. In all they were able to help 115 patients. Many children and adults needed teeth extracted, but there were also many stories of great restorative work. One young woman had dental decay on her two upper front teeth (no dentists around,and I can't remember what they are called). Jay and Ashlee worked very hard to no only help her keep her two front teeth but restored her beautiful smile.

At the end of the dental clinic, the Paril High School and Primary School and barangay council gave them a very touching sendoff. The entire team was moved to tears. The community was so thankful for the service that was provided to them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wed Pics

The trip has finally sold itself to me

After a few days in Cebu, we are nearing the end of our experience when I feel like I am just starting to learn. However, what I have learned so far is much more than I could learn in several weeks of normal schooling. The children that we are teaching have an innate curiosity and a love of learning. Whereas at home we have many children in school that are aimply forced by the law or by their parents to attend school, many of the people in the schools that we have visited walk two hours to and from school. This society places a very high premium on education. After a talk with the Student Body President of Binaliw Integrated School, Aikel Ardiza, he told us, "I really enjoyed it [the program] a lot because you and your company taught us learnings we did not know." He continued to say that the decision-making presentation was his favorite because it would help him make good decisions as a student body president. About the water filter experiment that the Department of Education taught, Aikel said that the students have no idea about such experiments, and the ISLP participants are helping teach them how to explain things.
With respect to the title, the trip has sold itself to me in the sense that I have been personally touched the past couple of days by a couple of events that made me appreciate the opportunities that children in our community can receive as well as the opportunities that are lacking to many Cebuanos. For instance, I taught some salsa dancing at the Mabini school on Monday, and one of the girls said that they would love to learn more, but there is no one to teach them. This touched me because I love dancing, and I love to share my passion with others. The thought that some of these children do not have the chance to learn because of finances or where they live makes me sad.
The second event just happened today at the Binaliw school. The students were performing a decision-making skit using the S.T.A.R. method. The scenario involved a father losing his job, and he and the mother explain to the daughter that she has to stop her schooling and go to work to help support them. After consulting her teacher, she decides to work during the day and attend school at night. When it comes to reviewing stage of the scenario, she pretends she is looking back on her decision after finishing college and becoming a successful professional (a difficult goal for many of these students to attain). She began to cry when she was talking about this, and it tugged at my heartstrings. After the presentation, I came up to her and encouraged her to work hard in school and continue performing at the best of her ability.
All these children are so genuinely appreciative of our presence that we feel happy to go to the schools every day to teach. I am sure we would all elect to stay for much longer if we could to help in these schools and learn from our friends, the Cebuanos.
Boris Yelin, Communications Team

My day in the dental clinic

I had another amazing day in the Philippines. Working in the dental clinic in Paril was a change of pace from working in the schools, but still intense and exhausting and wonderful. I saw many of the same students we had in class on Monday and as soon as we jumped off the van they were shouting "Hi Rebecca!", "Hi OJ!", "Hi Rachel!". I think they remembered all of our names. I got to pull my first tooth today as well, although I'm not sure it counts because all I had to do was give it a little twist and it came out. I also saw a few things that made me tell Jay that I don't think I can ever go to the dentist again (because now I'll have a visual of what's going on in my mouth when I hear or see certain instruments)! There were some really cool restorative cases today and the student dentists did an awesome job of making the people of Paril's smiles more beautiful than ever- I could tell how much it meant to them to have full, white teeth where there was once black decay. It was hard to leave Paril and some of the girls I have befriended there. There were many hugs, photos being taken, and laughter and tears. One student broke my heart as she began crying when I told her I wouldn't be back tomorrow. These students, teachers, people of Cebu have truly touched my heart in a way I could never have imagined before coming here. They are the most gracious, generous, and kind people I have ever met in my life. I truly hope to take their humility home with me, to be more grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, and to be much less selfish and more thoughtful of others. This has been an experience I feel so blessed to have had; the Philippines will always be a special place to me and I will never forget the lessons I've learned from the people here.
Rebecca Hall, Communications Team

Wednesday at Binaliw

Our day at Binaliw School was wonderful. From the moment we arrived, the students and teachers made us feel welcome. The children are so sweet, talented, and bright. We were honored to work with students in the high school the past two days. Starting each day with music and dancing has become a great custom for us, and we have enjoyed the pleasant start to our mornings.

The Justice Administration team developed and presented a powerful anti-bullying workshop. The students performed skits and talked about techniques that can be used to battle bullying in the school and community. The students were creative and put together excellent presentations.

The Communications team used a critical thinking model called STAR to lead students through a variety of scenarios. The students were enthusiastic, and our students did a great job of leading the activity.

The Education team used local products to build a water filtration system. Using used water bottles,sand, rocks, sponges, and cotton, students designed a small filter that we used to clean dirty water.

The teachers and students at Binaliw were wonderful. They treated us like special guests. Special meals, beautiful smiles, helpful attention, and classes that were ready for us made our time with the students and the teachers very special. Our friendships became very special to all of us this week.

More to come later tonight. I guess that will day to you since we are 13 hours ahead. Our UofL students are excited to tell their stories. To all the families, everyone is doing fine. No one is sick...OK, a little tired, but overall we are doing great!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Humbled is how the students describe their experience. The generosity and outpouring of friendship has been overwhelming. We are met each morning with a whole school assembly. The students and teachers perform dances, sing songs, and welcome us warmly. They are so honored that we chose their villages to work in and want to show us how much they appreciate it. The entire experience has been extremely rewarding for all of the ISLP teams.

Teacher's Comment from Binilaw School, "We will never forget the experience of working with the faculty and students at the University of Louisville. Our children have looked forward to this for weeks." Rosalie Ohayas, Science Teacher

Renato A. Garces, "I am very thankful for your coming to our school. The lessons have been exciting, and the students have learned a lot from the activities. I am always thankful when our children can learn more. Thank you!"

The ISLP team is doing well. Everyone is healthy and ready to go on Wednesday.