Now that we’re approaching day 90, I’m really beginning to get my feet wet. There seems to be a natural progression that plays out for expats that parallels Maslow’s heirarchy of needs. It looks something like this:
- Learn how to get around in order to find food and meet other basic needs
- Create a space that feels like your own
- Make friends by going to social events
- Learn about and interact with the culture
- Find something fulfilling to do with your time
I have finally evolved to number 5 and have found myself seeking out all sorts of volunteering options. And let me tell you, the list is endless in Manila! Here’s an overview of a few that I’m scoping out:
In Touch: This organization provides training and counseling for expats around issues related to cultural adjustment. They offer classes such as Introduction to the Philippines, Managing Household Staff and Personal Development-related courses. They also fill the vital role of providing free counseling to expats going through culture shock. They have 10+ Master’s degree therapists and psychiatrists on staff that specialize in everything from substance abuse to couples counseling. Because while living overseas can seem exotic, it allows carries with it a steep learning curve! The other service that they provide is a 24-7 Anonymous Crisis line staffed by volunteers. So cool!
Obviously my Life Coaching skills would be put to good use here. I’m thinking of either leading some free workshops on Life Coaching or offering some pro-bono coaching sessions to clients who are completing therapy and ready to be held accountable to new patterns of behavior. Both options feel incredibly exciting and like a GREAT use of my time. I’m hoping to meet with the director soon to get something nailed down!
Children’s Home: Last week I also had the chance to go to Frienship Home, a residence where 15 boys live permanently and 20+ other kids come to after school for what we would call a Latchkey program in the States. They seem to range in age from about 8-14. I can’t even begin to tell you how lovable they are! Impossible to resist those infectious smiles and non-stop hugs…. I am hooked after only one visit! The Embassy sponsors this charity and sends a group of volunteers there each week for 2 hours after school. Each volunteer utilizes their skills to teach the kids different things – whether it’s art, singing, sign language or new games. Last week I taught a group of 10 girls how to play that age-old hand-slapping game called Po Bo Ski Rotten Totten (most definitely I spelled that wrong). First we worked on grasping the concept of the game and then we worked on the tricky words! They’ve got about half of the song down. I’m sure they’ll have it nailed by this week!
I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have so many great options for how to use my time. No boredom here, that’s for sure! I know there are great volunteer opportunities in each of your communities as well. Make this the week to look into one!