Jarred into a new consciousness visitors arrive here in Tagbilaran, Bohol feeling like they just got off a plane that dropped from the sky, our very short runway makes for some very dramatic endings! Full of shock and awe they work their way through the throng of overly helpful attendants trying to assist them with their bags and hustle them for a few pesos. Once outside the airport the heat and humidity sink in and sweat begins to drip off their brow. Anxiously they look around for a familiar face, a sign, anything that will give them a sense of relief that they have landed in the right spot.
Then, as if landing at the airport weren’t enough the first gasps usually come when the van driver weaves across four lanes of traffic coming from all directions with no stop sign, no stop light and never missing a beat. Every sight, sound and smell is strange and new. Usually exhausted from extended hours of travelling the adrenaline from the sheer excitement and terror keeps them going.
Most of our visitors come for ten days to two weeks. During that time they are given the opportunity to see all that IDEA is and does. They usually get a chance to visit the children at our schools and the kids show them more love in those few hours than they’ve felt in a year. With tearful parting the groups leave feeling like rock stars loved and adored.
Visiting a third world country is an eye opening experience and one that everyone should take the time to do. If open to it, it can change your world view and change your perspective on what’s really important.
It is the hearty few however, that choose to come to IDEA for an extended amount of time. Those we call our interns. Our interns come to immerse themselves in the culture and that is not an easy task! Leaving behind creature comforts for a time can be a fun experience, but having to do that for too long and it just gets long, hard and boring. The “daily-ness” of things like grocery shopping, doing laundry, figuring out what to do in your free time, all of which are not easy in a foreign country.
This summer Hannah Roddy from Redmond, Washington chose to do her college internship here in the Philippines with IDEA. She is here for six and a half weeks and is working over at our high school, the Bohol Deaf Academy.
Here is Hannah’s description of how things are going two weeks in:
My first trip to the Philippines in 2010 was barely even two weeks long, but I only needed a day to realize that God had brought me to Bohol for a reason. I wasn’t sure what that reason was, but I was convinced that God knew what He was doing. My love for sign language started to bud on that day. That Fall, I started college, taking classes in American Sign Language and continuing through all six levels the college offered. I loved it, but I had figured out that interpreting was not what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure what I would do. I took a three-year hiatus from sign language after that and realized about two years into it that I missed signing very much.
Then the opportunity to return to the Philippines and work with IDEA again was brought to my attention. It felt so right to go back that I discarded my other goals and plans for the summer and focused my attention on getting to the Philippines.
When I arrived in Bohol last week, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. All I really knew what that I would be here for about six and a half weeks, I would be staying with Brian and Rhonda Hillabush, and that I would be working mostly at Bohol Deaf Academy. Other than that, I was pretty clueless. But just yesterday, I began teaching American Sign Language to over sixty deaf high school students. Their first language is Filipino Sign Language, so as I’m teaching ASL, I’m also learning FSL. The students have so much energy and even though some of them started out shy, they had peppered me with questions by the end of class.
They are already pushing me to be better, not only in my sign language but also in joy. It’s astounding to me to see just how much joy they have. I want to be like them.
The first day of teaching didn’t go completely as I had planned and I was extremely worn out, but it was the best day yet.”