Week 5: Giving a Little More

The Work Week

Good news: the 3 informative/persuasive articles I wrote for a targeted up-sell text blast came off pretty well. I was given edits by my mentor and started them, but later found out my boss said the original was just fine. My boss was also sick for a couple days this week, leaving me with an unfortunate work vacuum, but I did manage to make myself useful in the meantime. One of my colleagues in the design department suggested I go through the semi-monthly “magalogue” that will soon be published and offer edits/proofreading for the copy. I did, and submitted it for consideration. I’ve not heard back on my suggestions and suspect they’ve been stuffed under some files, but that isn’t a new thought to add to the general understanding of the intern experience. Another, more meaningful task I accomplished, however, was to produce an outline of a short speech for the Marketing Head, complete with relevant statistics. The speech was for the beginning of an event in which teams of college students competed to produce the best plans for how Human Nature might proceed in certain areas of our sustainability program. The winners’ plans will be put into action in the coming months. I was not able to hear the speech and there was no video taken, but I have been told that at least “some of the salient points” of my outline were used, and that it was generally a success.

Travel

The weekend was taken up with another trip to Quezon City, this time to volunteer at a Gawad Kalinga village specifically for persons with disabilities. Because of traffic coming in and going out, my roommate and I were only able to put in about 4 hours work, but what I failed to give in time I did my best to make up for in sweat. It wasn’t hard as the job that readily presented itself was hauling gravel, mixing concrete by shovel, and then helping lay it into the foundations of soon-to-be cinder block homes. I could have chosen to paint and helped that way by getting the high spots, but it would have been wrong while there was a 12-year-old villager pushing a wheelbarrow bigger than himself for the foundation work. Here are a couple photos to give you an idea:

It was a real pleasure to be able to help these people out, particularly through a larger organization I know does honest, continuous, good work. The villagers couldn’t have been more kind or grateful, either. Everybody on the work crew would give a big smile anytime you came in to spell them for a bit, and they were quick to point out a cut on your foot or some cement you missed washing up. And on an even closer level, the blind couple and their children who put us up for the night treated us like long-lost cousins and made sure we were as comfortable as can be, right up to accompanying us to the bus stop the next town over. Between work and the trip, the best way to summarize the week might be to say that it was one in which getting the most of the adventure was finding a way to give something back. In that way, it was one of the best so far.

Lightning Round

Dairy products – especially cream – are quite expensive here. “Organic” is a word that is not regulated by the FDA here. I learned this when I mentioned to a colleague that the organic option and its non-organic counterpart were the same price at the store. Trike drivers often wear sleeves of light athletic fabric as bracelets when they aren’t riding to stay cool, and as sleeves when riding to protect their arms from the debris of never-swept roads. The insulin plant is grown here. I tasted its leaves, and it has the tangy-sour flavor of small blueberries; the texture is fairly stiff. When I first arrived, I was told there were government efforts underway to modernize or phase out jeepneys. The drivers are now in the midst of several strikes, marches, and protests – mostly in Metro Manila. This place is hard on a tall guy’s posture. I’ve noticed I’m holding my head a little forward from its usual position, and I credit the short desks, short people I must literally speak down to, and transportation’s headrests that usually position the topmost section – the one intended to sit above the head – right where my occiput ought to be. And that’s only when I don’t have to hunch my body forward just to get in a seat. If you speak a modest bit of Tagalog with competence, you’ve jumped beyond the expectations of most visitors, and you will subsequently surprise and then disappoint your conversation mate – they will, however, still very much appreciate your earnest effort. Ironically, in the midst of a poor village I found the best WiFi in the Philippines I’ve experienced; it allowed me to hold a video call with perfect video and audio quality for an extended period.

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