After the ceremonial closing of the Fulbright Orientation in Washington, Ms Maricor of the Cultural Section of the Philippine Embassy invited me on a private tour. It was a happy occasion as well as educational because she took me through a short version of the history of the Philippines in the Hall of Presidents. This hall housed the embassy’s collection of portraits of the past to current presidents of the Philippines, painted mostly by national artist, Ferdinand Amorsolo. Presidential portraits of Manuel Roxas, Manuel L. Quezon, and Sergio Osmeña were made specifically for the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C.
The image on the bottom left in black & white is of my great-grandfather, Quintín Paredes, who lived in Washington from 1936-38 as the first Resident Commissioner from the Philippines when it was a commonwealth territory of the United States, before its independence in 1946. The painting at the top right is of the Philippine Military Academy, from where my dad graduated in the 1960’s before we emigrated to the United States.
I haven’t been back to the Philippines since our family converged there in November 2010 for our mom’s funeral in Manila, so I was grateful for the invitation by the embassy to “walk the path”of my great-grandfather even for a few minutes.
We all had a great time meeting the other Distinguished Awards in Teaching grantees. There are about 75(?) teachers going to around 20 countries this year. I’m going to Mexico, so it was especially nice to meet the delegates from Mexico arriving to do their research in Indiana. Special thanks to Karina who gave me a list of great contacts and some “do’s and don’ts” in Mexico!
Did we only have 4 days? It seemed like a week because of the amount of meetings we were scheduled to attend. The food was great at the hotel. We also had a Culture Night where country representatives dressed in their traditional clothing and entertained us all. There was dancing and slideshows and games in different languages. Fun… A definite highlight for me was seeing my sister, Christina, during the orientation and spending some quality time to catch up on family news! Thanks, sis!
There was so much to know, too, especially about how our projects were supposed to be developed. I felt that we are given the latitude we need as professional teachers to search for the pedagogical resources we need in our countries, yet we have to adhere to deadlines and time markers.
I’m feeling the excitement of experiencing Mexico for the first time, but also some pressure to complete my project in 4 months. I am suddenly reminded that, during my second year in college, I studied for 4 months in France… And what about the project due for the Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad to Peru? Yikes.
Karina from Mexico (r.) and Jessica, alumna who returned from New Zealand. Also, love the pin!