Initial orientation is the first two weeks in country as an official Peace Corps Trainee. During these weeks, we are coddled. We are given nice rooms with Wifi and AC. We are given a buffet 3 times a day and two meriendas (snack times!). Also, IIRR, the compound where we stayed, was gorgeous- complete with a pool and basketball court. So many flowers!
However, despite all the amenities, IO was no cake walk. Of course, we were kept fairly busy with information/training sessions twice a day, four hours each. But the real trouble was the adjusting: to the time change (12 hours difference!), the food (stomach troubles galore), the language, and to the idea that we all basically arrived in a country as new born babies, having to relearn the most basic necessities of survival.
Also, PC really likes to emphasize the importance of being comfortable with ambiguity. Because they tell us only what we need to know. I do not blame them, many things are up in the air and have to be rearranged last minute. I have now been in the Philippines for nearly a month, and I still have no idea where I’ll spend the majority of my service, or what language I’ll need to be speaking.
I left the comforts of IO one week ago, yesterday. It feels like it was months ago. I’m now living with a wonderful host family in the coastal barangay of Mabayo. For the sake of my new family members, I am extremely thankful to have been given those two weeks at IIRR. However, it feels good to be out of isolation and on to community-based training.
Oh, and just for fun, here’s some pretty coral pictures from a field trip out to Batangas on the last Friday of IO.