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April 25, 2010

Leaving Illinois, Now at DC

The week before DC week was kind of like a hectic week. Last Monday and Tuesday were field trip days. Monday was spent in Springfield, Illinois where we visited the Lincoln Presidential Museum. It was definitely a great experience. I loved the 3D theater presentation they had on "Ghosts of the Library". The effects just blew my mind away. Before going to the Museum though, we dropped by New Salem where we were transported back to time in the late 1800s. After the Museum, we all went to the house were Abraham Lincoln lived while he was working as a lawyer in Springfield. Tuesday, we crossed the Mississippi river, went to Duburque, Iowa and visited their Mississippi National River Museum. We also visited Lock and Dam No. 11, one of the dams built over this historic River.

Wednesday morning was spent in a Forest Reserve just within DeKalb county where we planted trees in a wetland within the reserve. The afternoon of the same day was spent for a panel discussion on NGOs.

Thursday was practically a free day for the kids to work on their action plans. I think the Philippines (a.k.a Team Aguila) did a great job in their action plan. It was also during that day when we moved in back at the Holmes Student Center. The night before, my host family cooked a Filipino dish for dinner (pork adobo). They kind of like made some variations but it still tasted delicious. It was a Filipino dinner for me (adobo with fried rice). We exchanged gifts (I gave them a thank you card and my Phil-USA friendship pin). I am thankful to the Kostreys ("Lola Millie and Lolo John") for taking good care of me. They even gave me an old luggage where I can put all the chocolates and toys I bought for the family back home. I am actually anticipating to pay for my excess baggage when I travel back to Bacolod from Manila.

Friday was the day of presentation of the action plans. In the afternoon of Thursday, the Filipino students and I decided to shoot a 3-minute video presenting the aspirations of the Filipino youth. We presented the video after the actual action plan presentation. The kids wore their Yellow Shirts (patriotic and Ninoy shirts) and donned their blue Philippine jackets during their presentation. Our Indonesian friends also wore their red shirts. The Thais came in their usual casual and comfortable attire. The Burmese also made a good presentation. Two kinds of action plans came out: one type focused on Environmental (Thailand and Indonesia) and one type is focused on Civic Responsibility and Education (Burma and Philippines). These two concepts are actually the two major themes of the SEA Youth Leadership Program.

The Friday dinner was more of a farewell and thank you dinner to our host families. I was able to meet the Kostreys for the last time before we leave for DC the next day. I gave them another gift: a picture frame dotted with endemic shells from the Philippines. During the actual farewell, it was emotional for the kids and their host families. Somehow, these kids have been attached to their American families for the past 10 days and I am pretty sure the same thing can be said about their host families. We all thank them for their wonderful hospitality. I approached the host families of my students and thanked them for taking good care of them.

Now, I am blogging from Maryland, at the National 4-H Center, almost tired from carrying 2 50-lb luggages, and 4 small carry on bags. I would definitely need a good night's sleep. Another hectic day tomorrow but it will be less mentally straining now.

One week from now I will be back in Bacolod, perhaps more inspired than ever to continue the road which I have chosen for myself. I am thankful to the Lord for taking care of my family while I am away.

I can't wait to be back in the Philippines.

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