Monday, June 24, 2013

My Peace Corps Service In Text Messages

As I enter into my third year living in the Philippines, I want to reflect on how much my batch mates and I have experienced together during our Peace Corps service.  Our close-of-service conference is in the end of July, and most of my “270s” are completing their service in August or September.  They will be returning home to “normalcy.”  Although one thing I’ve learned being here is that “normal” is a VERY relative term.  It is also a term that changes on a daily basis, when you move to a new country. 

In order to describe what MY normal is like these days, I’m going to share some of my favorite text messages from other Peace Corps Volunteers.  Re-reading them today made me SO happy that I’m extending another year!

**All names have been omitted to protect the privacy of PCVs**

Sept 9, 2011: Commenting on the sounds coming from our neighbor, the pig slaughterer’s, yard at 10pm: “Is it someone’s birthday?  Good thing that pig wasn’t as loud as the first!”

Dec 14, 2011: “We read ‘The Road Not Taken’ today and I asked my kids to write about a decision they had to make.  One of them said ‘Best decision I ever made was to get circumcised like all of my friends.’  How do you grade something like that?”

Dec 23, 2011: When asked “Why did the little boy cross the road?”:  “Nanang asked him to buy gin at the sari sari store.”

Jan 29, 2012: “Just found an old English textbook called ‘Discovering Your Western Friends.’  Copyright 1976.  We still have three copies!”

Jan 14, 2012: “If it rains while the sun is shining, it means a dwarf is getting married.  That’s according to my host mom.”

Jan 25, 2012: “So pretty much merienda at my school is the time of day when the teachers stuff their faces with food and talk about how fat I am… Could I use this to teach irony?”

Jan 30, 2012: “I have a severe respiratory infection yet again.  My counterpart’s orders are as follows: no peanuts, no apples, no eggplant, not allowed to put water on my back when showering, must wear a mask… where does this stuff come from?”

Apr 4, 2012: “Seen in obscure part of La Trinidad: a beauty salon called “Nu Yu” with a picture of Paris Hilton on their sign.  The picture of her that they chose: her mugshot.  That’s hot.”

Apr 24, 2012: “Microwaves, toilet seats, and hot running water.  Enchiladas and tacos and cold Dr. Pepper.  Clean streets and sidewalks that don’t smell like pee.  These are a few of my favorite things.”

April 30, 2012: “My nurse’s name is Twinkle.  I expected her to come in with a g-string and clear heels.”

Jun 2, 2012: Upon observing a young boy making an unusual purchase at the sari sari store: “I kinda wanted to tell him that beer would’ve gone horribly with the chocolate covered pretzels he was buying.”

Jun 20, 2012: “Congrats on not burning the rice!  And dang for dengue!  Poor (PCV); I guess it’s better than malaria.  Well today, a lizard got too close to the fan and it decapitated him and as I was walking by the monkey’s cage he was giving himself a BJ.”

Jul 12, 2012: “You should tape up an updated serenity prayer next to your desk: ‘Do not accept the things I cannot change… because fast will never be an adverb.”

Jul 27, 2012: “Do you think that some school in the Philippines did a search for best breasts for last year’s nutrition month?”

Aug 3, 2012: “A teacher is working on typing up her exam.  She has a question about California.  There are three of us in the room.  Guess who is NOT consulted?”

Sept 20, 2012: “This country has spoiled me.  I am at this coronation and I can’t help but wonder where MY chair is.  What?  You want me to just sit somewhere?  Do you know who I am?”

Oct 8, 2012: “I was just thinking about (PCV’s) hunger strike comment.  I was imagining what would happen if someone refused to eat around people and I pictured robots malfunctioning, heads spinning around with smoke coming out of their ears saying over and over “You eat na!  You eat na!”

Oct 17, 2012: “First year student just asked if I was American or Japanese.”

Oct 19, 2012: “Yesterday I saw three pigs stuffed into a made-for-pigs trike sidecar… they were hating life and also parked outside the butcher shop right in front of hanging pig heads and hooves.  Where am I?”

Oct 19, 2012: “Well a pig sidecar in itself is something you just have to chuckle at.  The other day I was on a jeep and a lady carried on a chicken, set it on the floor… it started flapping and clucking… the norm.  But then, it FLEWWWW!  Almost made it out but the conductor hanging off the back caught it and threw it back on.  No one on the jeep even turned their head.  You know, just another normal commute to work!”

Oct 31, 2012: “So as part of getting back into the swing of things and running away from my site I went to Mrs. Baker’s Restaurant.  They are in Halloween costumes.  I gave my order to Osama Bin Laden.”

Nov 27, 2012: “American women are so STRANGE.”

Dec 30, 2012: “Thought I was going to have that back row all to myself.  Then, at the last minute, the missionaries came.  Baptist.  Super chatty.  Fell asleep in the middle of our conversation and woke up with my mouth open, head tilted back, drool overflowing.  Slurp.  I’m Peace Corps.”

Jan 11, 2013: “I just found out my governor’s son’s name is Trigger Jon.  Now he’s all set for a career as a rapper or a cowboy.”

Jan 16, 2013: Responding to my description of moldy, dirty dishes in my sink: “I have gotten so used to that, that it’s so whatever to me.  Sorry dude.  Not impressed.  I had a dead lizard in a cup.  I think it fell in and because there was baby powder in it, I think it dried out.  Whatever.  I didn’t throw it away for like three weeks.  Eh.  What.  Ever.”

Jan 21, 2013: “Well I was in a super good mood… until I fell out of the jeep… and then hit my head getting back on.”

Feb 11, 2013: “Just saw a trike with a mud flap that said ‘Vagina Hunter!’”

Feb 14, 2013: “K I really like this guy.  He’s gay.  We’re discussing effective birth control and he said condoms were the most effective.  Our school nurse was like, ‘No!  Abstinence is the most effective!’  The guy looked like he smelled piss.  ‘Ew.  No.  Abstinence is NOT effective.  Let’s be realistic.’”

Feb 19, 2013: “At this point there are some days where I just sit and wonder why I bothered to show up.  Today was going to be one of those days until just now, a teacher, very pregnant, our age, walks into the room commenting on her rather large size.  I ask her when she is expected to “pop.”  My supervisor looks up, also wanting to know her due date.  She takes a second to think and responds: ‘You know… I had my first boyfriend at 17 and was popped that year; my second boyfriend, now my husband, popped me when I was 21 and again a few months ago.  Sir when were YOU popped?’… Time to go home now.”

Feb 22, 2013: “Hasn’t rained for WEEKS.  Then, today on the opening of our combined fiesta/ foundation day/ reunion it decides to rain AND there is a brownout.  I think it’s a safe bet to say nothing is going to happen.  Funny thing is, the same thing happened last year.  I think it’s God’s way of smiting them for trying to celebrate after not accomplishing anything for a whole year.”

Feb 27, 2013: “Thought for HOURS of a mnemonic device for adjective sequence.  Presented to the fourth year students, gave them a chance to make their own.  In less than ten seconds they had come up with one as a group: No One Says All Seniors Can Open My Pants.  (Number, Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Origin, Material, Purpose).  I’m reading their sentences now and many are about fat, sexy, young, white American chicks.”

Feb 28, 2013: “Another ridiculous program: release of two doves, they throw them up, they fall to the ground.  Their wings are clipped and the birds have been spray painted white, most accurate symbolic gesture to date.”

Mar 6, 2013: “I got a king size Snickers in my last care package.  I must have dreamt I ate it because in the back of my mind I thought it was gone.  Then today I saw it in the bottom of the box.  Whoo!  I think the equivalent of this level of happiness and excitement back in the States would come from winning at least 

Mar 9, 2013: “I’ve drooled more this past year and a half than my entire life I think.  In the van, at restaurants, on my pillow, in church, on my desk…”

Mar 9, 2013: “I need to get better at bringing my camera everywhere.  I’m with my barkada and a large man shows up, Chihuahua in tow, sits down.  Puts a pink shirt on the dog and starts smoking his cigarette, dog on his lap.  Would’ve made a good picture.”

Mar 16, 2013: “When people greet me at 6:30 in the morning with ‘Sir, smile!’… the last thing I want to do… is smile.”

Mar 19, 2013: Upon hearing of my year-long extension: “Well you only have to deal with slow internet for 546 more days.”

Apr 27, 2013: During a conversation about longing for American food more than anything: “Yes, if you were to hold up pictures of a naked woman and a mouthwatering t-bone, I would probably take in the steak before glancing at the girl.”

May 13, 2013: “Off to the polls!  Gotta get some pictures of politicians paying off the voters so I can blackmail them into funding my school projects.  Wish me luck!”

May 13, 2013: “I don’t know what I expected… some exciting climax worth all this campaigning stuff.  But it couldn’t be more boring.  Everyone is just standing watching, quiet murmurs as they fall in line.  Everyone is asking if I’m going to vote.  I said I’m still for sale.”

May 29, 2013: Referring to the optimal six tabos one should use to take a bath, and how many it took a certain PCV: “That’s a great start actually… From 12 going down to ten; more practice and he will surely reach six.” (-the opinion of one of my students)

Jun 11, 2013: “Aisle stool on an ordinary bus to Baguio.  Kuya next to me notices my distress and offers up some moma and his spit bottle.  How can you refuse an offer from the heart?  You can imagine what happens next… Bus’ overactive suspension plus a bump lands a perfectly timed spit on a precious pair of pants.”


At July 8, 2013 at 9:35 AM , Blogger erikafromamerica said...

No matter how many times I hear these or read them I still can't help laughing out loud, therefore attracting the attention of my fellow teachers. I decided to read the one about the popping story to them... No reaction. Ai apo. Thanks for this :) Year 3 here you go!!


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