Final Musings/Conclusions

I have been back in the States for about 10 days now – it is so hard to believe that my summer in the Philippines is now behind me! After a packed week of RA training back on campus, I have found a little bit of time to reflect about my time abroad this summer. Here I will focus on a couple of factors that made my summer experience truly memorable.

The Philippines is such an ecologically rich and diverse country – it is an archipelagic nation consisting of over 7,000 islands after all! On the weekends I was able to travel out beyond the Metro Manila area- onto other islands, to beautiful white sands and crystal clear waters, through the jungle, around volcanos, and to my favorite destination – 2,000 year old rice terraces nestled in the vast Cordilleras mountain ranges in the northern part of Luzon. These trips made the weeks in Manila bearable.

The last three weeks of my fellowship were spent living with my colleagues from ANSA, who are all Filipino. It was during this time I truly broke out of my comfort zone and immersed myself in life in the Philippines – my coworkers were very intent on me learning to live more like a local.  I was also out of the relatively Western realms of Manila (where there are Starbucks abound) but in a province in southern Luzon. If it weren’t for the fieldwork trip out to the provinces, I may not have ventured outside of my Western comfort bubble – where I was regularly buying my favorite foods from grocery stores and holing up with a latte in a coffee shop.  To top it off, this was the time I felt the most connected with my work. As mentioned before in previous blog posts, I was here to provide assistance on the audit of municipal disaster management funds in the province of Albay.  During my time there I was able to meet with local officials to gather data and information from which I could produce meaningful map visualizations to support the audit. I was always busy digitizing, cleaning, and processing data – and it was so cool to receive direct feedback on the utility of my products.

I am so thankful to have worked, learned, and traveled in such a beautiful country. Thank you, Philippines, for embracing me this summer!