VIDEO: Guest Post: Square Off or Stand Down

Mayad nga gabi-i (Good night)!

Happy New Year!!! I hope you enjoyed your holidays. December 25th was also my 100th day since I sworn in officially into Peace Corps. Below is my 100 day video link giving a glimpse of my time till that date (minus the last clip). As the new year has begun and goals, dreams, and resolutions are underway, I wanted to share something with you I wrote. Enjoy!


Professional boxers hug each other during a match for a brief respite because fighting is draining. Though most battles fought in life typically are not physical, it can be exhausting just the same. Living in a foreign country, at times, you can feel that boxing type of fatigue from managing the various aspects of integration. I have to caution on how I spend my time and energy picking and choosing my battles.

There are the battles where you enter knowing you will win…

I know the market value of goods; therefore, I don’t pay more than a fair price for any item on “Market Day”

Then there are battles for one reason or another you will simply lose…


My host sister is a lovely, spirited 6 year-old who decided 6:30a.m. was too late for me to still be asleep. She knocked, rapped and then pounded on the door. Eventually, she ran outside the house and played music on my bedroom window until she received my attention. I caved! She won! S/N We talked and it has not happened again!!!

There are also battles when the odds are against you and you’re the unexpected victor…


Food is a large part of Filippino culture. I expect to be offered food everywhere I go. And no matter how much I eat and say I’m full, there is always something else I must try. One day, my lola (grandmother) offered me a slice of pizza, I said “hindi po, salamat” (no thank you.) She said you must try. By this point, I was already eating fries, rice, chicken, a pastry, and v-cut cheese chips (my favorite). I then replied, “oh busog na-I’m full”. She said don’t worry the pizza won’t make you fat. I said, “I can do that all by myself with my food”. She laughed and didn’t press the matter anymore. This was a FIRST! 


And other battles you shrewdly do not enter into…


Where I live and work was affected by Typhoon Yolanda. there are many construction projects in progress throughout town including in front of my office. Recently, whil sitting at my desk, I glanced outside and saw a boy not more than 6yrs-old, with a balanced brick on his head, assisting in the construction. Many thoughts and questions overwhelmed my consciousness and some even tempted to exit my lips. I noticed not one counterpart in my office offered a reaction to this occurrence. Subsequently, I realized I was not yet ready to have this type of discourse with my co-workers. 

There will be many more battles here in the Philippines. There will be mini triumphs like not having to take another bite of food or internal battles that challenge my beliefs and shift perspectives. I am confident with time, strategy, and decisiveness, I will better know when and how to handle these situations with the appropriate cultural sensitivity each merits. In life, there is no shortage of opportunities to make and wrestle with choices even those that extend beyond the scope of picking battles. It is my wish that as you identify goals and set priorities and resolutions for 2015 that you do so with a sense of boldness and discernment.

–Lena

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