Blog Entry #2
May 16, 2016
When I first started thinking about going to the Philippines early to study Tagalog, I was forced to do some serious reflecting. Did I want to leave my family 7 weeks before the start of my internship? How would I pay for the language study? And perhaps the biggest question in my mind was why did I want to attend? What motivated me to apply for the Summer Language Award and enroll in a language program?
The plane took off from Minneapolis, St. Paul and began to cross over the Pacific Ocean. As the plane climbed higher, clouds covering the view below me until it finally became dark, the ground below me turned black. There was nothing to tell me how far away the plane was from the ground. Unable to see anything outside my window, I quietly closed my eyes and let the quiet hum of the plane and the soft leather of the seat rock me to sleep.
As the plane arrived near Manila International Airport on the final leg of a nearly 30-hour journey, I opened my eyes. I noticed a bright red light cut horizontally across the thick window of the airplane. It took me a good minute to figure out what I was looking at. It was the sun, just beginning to wake up, and I was at eye level with the horizon it was quickly climbing over. I watched as the line moved from dark red to orange to yellow- it was truly magnificent. I felt as though I could reach out and touch it, and I imagined how hot it must be, as it began to wake up the 100 million person population in the Philippines. As I watched it I thought to myself, ‘the sun is smiling for me. What a welcome to the Philippines.’
As the plane began to descend, the clouds around the thousands of small islands below me continued to ascend. At some points the plane was even eye level with the clouds and I could not help but smile. After a dark night, the clouds were lifting to reveal a beautiful new life below. Around each little island was a light blue color, as if a child had taken a Crayola crayon labeled ‘marine’ and outlined every single island below in that same color. Below me lie hundreds of thousands of houses with different colored roofs, and I wondered what the people who lived inside them were doing. Looking down as the clouds floated up, I can only describe my feelings in one way- comforted, affirmed and at peace.
I felt comforted being able to being able to look below me and finally see this marvelous place called the Philippines. The place I had been looking forward to visiting before I even before I arrived at the University of Notre Dame to begin my Masters studies. For so long, the Philippines had been nothing more than an idea in my head… but now it was becoming real.
I also felt affirmed of my decisions. My decisions to attend the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and apply for the Summer Learning Abroad Award seemed like they made sense. The decision to arrive early to study Tagalog- well it just felt right. The feeling of affirmation, while difficult for me to articulate, was simply a feeling of ‘knowing.’ Sometimes when everything else feels uncertain, the sense that I am doing the right thing or making the right decision is the only thing guiding me. That was the feeling I had on the airplane, the feeling that I was in the right place, doing the right thing at the right moment. I had found a sense of peace amidst clouds and ocean views.
*Views from amidst the clouds as I arrive in Manila, Philippines.