The finale to our 9-month international practicum was in Manila, Philippines where we primarily processed through everything we just encountered in the previous months. However we did have to fortune of visiting a large private expat school, the U.S. WWII memorial grounds, part of the city where the people sorted through enormous piles of garbage, listen to a national millionaire, and eat the less than appetizing fertilized duck egg, balut. Each of these fostered unique emotions and gave us more thoughts to continue working through. I’m not sure if I want to write about those in particular or just conclude on a joyful note with a summary of what the 9 months really taught me. This being said, I’m not sure if I have a perspective that is removed enough from the experience to analyze what I learned or how the entirety of the trip affected me. Maybe in a few months I’ll write a new post on “How 9-months of Living Abroad Will Change Your Life,” but for now I’ll explain a few of the emotions felt when visiting the dump in contrast to the pristine WWII memorial grounds.
Throughout our travels we witnessed every spectrum of poverty imaginable. From the unemployed people of Southern Spain, mud huts in Rwanda, beggars in the streets of Cairo, the shepherds in the Caucasus, hungry orphans in Myanmar, or even many of the taxi drivers we hired all have unique stories of economic struggle. I’m not sure if it was the odor or visually, violating view but the garbage community in the Philippines was what I perceived to be the lowest form of poverty. Not only did many of the people work sorting the garbage but also their homes were consumed by it. The thought of waking up to the daily influx of garbage is unimaginable. I feel overwhelmed when my room is a mess and here these people wake up to the mess of millions of affluent people. Standing at a lookout point observing the garbage mound was painfully humbling. Each of you reading this is likely wealthier beyond what these people could ever imagine.
After taking this all in we listened to a local millionaire talk to us about all the incredible things he’s doing for the communities there, which was extremely encouraging. Also we visited the largest WWII memorial outside the U.S. and without a doubt it was the most pristine location in Manila! The grass was greener than I’ve ever seen and it was as though we were transported to America! The thousands, if not millions of dollars spent to create that and maintain it is respectable, since all the people and families who were affected by the war, but I couldn’t help think how far that money would go if it were spent on the poorest people around the world. Touchy subject for some but I couldn’t help but ponder the thought.
This summer I might do another post about the Philippines or start talking about how crazy this summer has been so far! I’ll likely take a bit of a break in August since I’ll be occupied with the wedding, honeymoon, moving back to college, and then trying to work during all of that as well. Thanks for reading and please like, comment, or share!