AFS apmaiņas skolniece no Emilija no Lietuvas šobrīd izdzīvo savu apmaiņas gadu Filipīnās. Ļoti priecājāmies lasīt viņas ziņu:

First of all I would like to say that I chose this country with a specific goal to understand and experience the way of living in a third world country, among poverty. And I could say that I learned so much. The Philippines are  definitely not the best choice for the students that are looking for a comfortable year abroad in a “tropical paradise”, because that’s the truth for the vacations, not for a daily living in the country.

What can I say about the school? In the Philippines they have two kinds of schools that are very different: public schools for the poor and private schools for the rich. There is no middle option. In the public schools, the number of students in one class can reach 60 people or even above. Education must be provided in English, but that’s not always the case. Filipinos mostly use the mix of English and their own dialect while speaking. In public schools they mostly use dialects, in private the English policy is much stronger.

The education system here is not really developed and  very unorganized (just like pretty much every aspect of life here). However, the private schools have a lot of freedom on how they treat their pupils and many private schools manage very well and provide great education.

The country in general has a huge gap between intellectual people and the ignorant ones, not even mentioning the huge percentage that don’t receive education at all. (Many children in the Philippines don’t go to school, either because their parents don’t see the need, or the children really have to work for their families).

Personally I really like my school, because here it really has this “big family” feeling, where older students support the younger ones, teachers are friends and have authority at the same time. It can be unorganized sometimes (or often), but the students are very respectful and hardworking. I somehow ended up in a Chinese school, therefore I could guess it is quite different from a standard Filipino school.

My host family is wonderful. They are so loving and warm, however it’s so difficult to adapt here. On the other hand they are always positive, never angry, laughing, content with everything, and hardworking. It is so interesting to live with such different people, I can learn much from them.

The type of family you can get here in the Philippines cannot be predicted. While some students practically live in the huts, others have families that are extremely rich. AFS Philippines is composed of the volunteers that are obviously Filipinos, therefore sometimes their standards in what is acceptable can be very Filipino and very low for the foreigners. I think it can be a big problem.

Here I live in a city that is very polluted, very dirty and no fun at all. Walking in the city is quite impossible because of the heat and dirt, I miss jogging or riding a bike. However only in one hour ride I can reach the places that are incredibly beautiful in their natural resources. The balance is alright, because here only in developed cities (that are without exception dirty and polluted) one can find basic facilities like a shopping mall and cinema.

There are also slums in the city. I often volunteer and accompany my friends to the slums. We teach children (that are often illiterate), visit the old. It is very touching, one of the best experiences of my life. Interacting with the children that do not understand English (only the poor ones, kids from wealthier families are fluent in English from the age of 4) made me learned to understand the local language.

I would also like to tell you about traveling here. I never saw places more beautiful than these that are found in the Philippines. Mountains, rivers, jungles, desserts, oceans, reefs. Every time I visit any of those it takes my breath away. It is definitely worthy to survive the terrible city life in the Philippines in order to go to the places like these. And we travel often. I am trying to spend as much time in nature as possible, because there is nothing like this in Europe. It’s lovely.

To conclude this country is a colorful place, a complete mess to tell the truth, but I learned here more than from last 17 years of my life. Even uneducated Filipinos can teach me many things such as positivism and selflessness.  Here they still remember the joy that can only be obtained through unselfish love for the neighbor, the thing we long forgot in the West, concentrating more and more on ourselves. And the reason Filipinos remember things like that are because of the complete mess in their country, which makes them helpless to control it and brings understanding that we, humans, myself are not the center of the universe. Again- one thing we tend to forget in the West.

I really like it here, because I can both give and receive, learn and teach… and the nature, the nature..