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April 16, 2010

Week One at Illinois

The First week has been loaded for us SEAYLPers here at NIU. The week was filled with workshops, sessions and field trip. During the first week, we got to meet our new friends from Burma, Thailand and Indonesia. I got to meet and know my fellow adult leaders (all of whom are English teachers) from other countries. I am the only medical doctor in the group. It was during the first week as well that we got to meet and stay in our host families. I am staying with the Kostrey's in DeKalb and they are a beautiful family. John is a pediatrician and Millie is a retired teacher. Both are living active lives, love to take long walks and do some gardening as well. They have a beautiful house with a beautiful backyard. They are taking good care of me and we would always have interesting conversations during breakfast or dinner. They both want to know a lot about the Philippines and they too are very willing to share about their own experiences in DeKalb and in Slovakia.

Throughout our conversations we would always find similarities and differences between our cultures. Many of the sessions during the first week have been interesting. We tackled strategic planning, leadership qualities, talk on civil societies and NGOs. One of the highlights of the first week is my power lunch meeting with one of the professors teaching at NIU. This morning I had lunch with Professor Shibata, a specialist on public health and environmental engineering. He was originally from Japan but according to him it was his trip to the Philippines that inspired him to take up environmental science/health.

We had an interesting conversation during lunch time. I have been learning a lot from him and I would like to believe that he has been learning a few things from me too. In fact, we are looking forward to establish some tie up between his class and my class back at USLS Family and Community Medicine.

When I get back to the Philippines I will be proposing some activities that would allow Filipino students to interact and make collaboration with the Professor's class on Environmental Sanitation.

During the first week, we also had an opportunity to go to Chicago and do some sightseeing but also do some water testing work for the kids. The students were taught how to do chemistry test and biological testing on the water of Bubble Creek in Chicago.

The second week is just starting and there is more activities scheduled for us. I am just absorbing everything like a sponge, hoping to bring with me new insights which I can share with colleagues and students alike.

P.S. still missing home, though. :-)

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