Wednesday, 31 October 2007
I am hating myself for not being "too into"the cast this week. Maybe I am stil adjusting from being away for so long OR I am just busy thinking about going home soon. It might be a mixture of both. Plus, maybe about the fact that I feel like I am missing SO much of Belgium (even if it is just 2 days...) which is going to be BIG for the cast AND for Up With People.
I missed USA Closing because of Admissions Team and now I am missing Europe Closing too :-( -- ahh I hope my early trip to the Philippines will be worth it for the Cast and UWP!
I will tell you more about Dronten in the coming days.. for now, I will leave you with the following information:
1. I ride a bike AGAIN here. It takes around 30 minutes to and 30 minutes back everyday.
2. My family is a military family with 3 teenage kids.
3. Joke the dance captain is my roommate
4. We have a HUGE dog that barks so loud (and I am alone with him right now)
See you all soon!
Sunday, 28 October 2007
It was Show Day today (err yesterday? whatever -- October 27 basta) and this also means that this is my last day as Advance Team member (oh, maybe except for Host drop-off on Monday) I am so excited to join the cast again -- because it really feels so weird to be away from them, especially for 3 weeks. Everything happens so quickly and one misses so many things.
It was Tuesday of this week that we found out that only 20 tickets were sold. Lo and behold, the Uckerseehalle had 1,000 happy audience tonight! We really owe it ( I believe) to the team who did the dance workshop Community Impact because i feel that they really made a big impact to the students. Enough impact that the excitement will be talked about even after we've gone from Prenzlau. I was talking to the Europe Tour Manager, Frank Liffers and he said that Cast B's presence in Prenzlau was very important because of future sponsorships and long term partnerships. And the sponsors were happy with what they saw on show day! Woo hoo!
Aside from the"normal show" new stuff and surprises made it more fun. The cast had a German song (I am thankful that I did not have to learn it, but it was so cool onstage) - then some local Prenzlau students also shared their talents! Like many other shows, local youth participated in our Stomp! number. They took a step further and shared a breakdance exhibition + an original German Rap Song written especially for Up With People. It was so cool. That's not all -- a Polish dance group also performed a lively dance number.
It was amazing! Because getting the whole community involved is what Up With People is all about. Diversity and participation was really evident on stage. And the sight of the hip hop dancers and break dancers jamming with 60's music was also really fun to watch!
This was my first time to watch the show and I really liked it. The message of Peace, Unity, Respect, Community Building rang out through the music without being pushy or "preachy"
Now that Advance Work is over, it feels weird that I am saying goodbye to Prenzlau where things have become so familiar to me after 3 weeks of exploring its tiny streets. I know that I might never see this place again, and that makes me feel so sad. My host family, Klemens ( the best driver, picture taker, tree climber, cheese cutter in all of the world) and Brunhilde are amazing people!
Well, who knows? Maybe someday I'll get to visit again.
We got unlimited ice cream from a local ice cream company. :-) It felt like AYLC all over again. Here I am with Frank Liffers.
Host family! Klemens, Brunhilde and their daughter Judith who drove from Berlin. Birte is the one infront.
With Dr. Blohm. He is a city representative and we worked a lot with him. Without him, all of it wouldn't be possible. He was so cool and helpful (despite the language barrier)
The Seefeldts! Our pseudo-host family who gave us late night rides home. They were the host family of Rasmus and Jeremy.
Katie is now the only original child wrangler onstage. In tonight's show, she took my old place.. (the spot near the soloist) and it was so cute! Hehe, I wonder if I'll get my child wrangling job back?
Cheers to Prenzlau and Up With People ! Let it be known that I will be home in less than 2 weeks!
Monday, 22 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Another hour away from Prenzlau is a beautiful city called Rostock. It is a University city and my host dad studied there. It was like an amazing old group of buildings in the heart of the mall. Seriously. But of course, the Universität Rostock has a very interesting history. Founded in 1419, it is the oldest and largest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area as well as the second oldest in northern Europe after the University of St Andrews. It is the third oldest university in Germany in continuous operation. (Where else did I get this information but from: Wikipedia :-)
Do you notice that I am getting wider and wider? Believe me, it is not just the thick winter coat but I am also gaining a lot of weight on the trip. After Up With People, I do not know when I will be able to travel again and I just want to try and taste everything. This trip to Rostock was no exception. We met Klaus (my host dad Klemens' brother lived in Rostock) at the Schokolateria (a shop devoted to chocolate! sigh) , then walked to a nearby Italian coffee shop for some German cakes and ice cream. Uh-oh.
They had chocolates from all over Europe. And some really cool looking truffles (Kaktus flavor??) that cost 1 Euro each. :oP
We had 2 platters of these sinful things.
Monday, 15 October 2007
(How lame can my blog titles get? "Beautiful Berlin" and "Pretty Prenzlau" --> hay, please forgive me)
But it really is pretty. Yesterday (Sunday) was a sunny day and my host mom was happy to oblige me with a relaxing bike tour around Prenzlau.
Here are some of my favorite photos:
Every morning is a 10 minute walk to the office (or bike ride) and we pass through a short cut through the cemetery. The cemetery is beautiful, but creepy at night. Last night, after promotions, I was able to convince Birte that we take the main road (so much longer) instead. :-)
Sunday, 14 October 2007
The Neptunbrunnen shows Neptune, the God of Sea.
This is one of the oldest and most beautiful fountains in Berlin
Saturday, October 13
The perks of staying 3 weeks in a City means you get 3 weekends! Unlike in the US, weekends in Europe are more laid back and relaxed. As Advance Team intern, I expected my days to be so full up to the weekend! Luckily, Birte feels that personal education and field trips are as important as logistical preps for the cast (cross our fingers we get everything done). So, my host family decided to take Birte and I to Berlin, which is about 1.5 hrs away from Prenzlau.
The adventure started on the road. To get to Berlin, we had to pass through the world famous German Autobahn. Wikipedia refers to it as a "nationally coordinated motorway" - simply put: Germany's freeway system. How is it different from other freeways? The Autobahn has been labeled by National Geographic as the "fastest freeway in the world" because they have no general speed limit. The recommended speed limit though, is 13o kph. My host dad said a lot of people (especially Chinese) go to Germany just for the chance to ride in the Autobahn.
From what I have seen in National Geo, my first reaction to my ride through the Autobahn was, "What? This looks like a normal freeway." - Nope, cars don't go whizzing by (maybe one or two whizzed by, but I guess in every part of the world you get a few daredevils) -- but still, driving through was an experience. The roads were so smooth and the way to Berlin cuts through a thick forest with color-changing leaves (let me repeat that I love, love the autumn leaves). There was even a bridge exclusive for animals to cross from one side of the freeway to the other. If you wish to learn more about the Autobahn, this site mirrors my thoughts - plus a lot more accurate information: http://gettingaroundgermany.home.att.net/autobahn.htmhn.htm
Hooray again for Wikipedia: Berlin is the capital city and one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million in its city limits, Berlin is the country's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the ninth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 4.9 million people from over 180 nations.
Probably the most interesting part most people know about Berlin is the famous Wall that separated West Berlin (Western Allies: US, UK and France) from East Berlin (Soviet Union) for 28 years. 1989 marked the fall of the Berlin Wall , leading to the reunification of Germany in October 1990. I might as well give you again the website for the interesting story of the Berlin Wall at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_wall
Let me say that I have never been interested in so much history (ever... I just subconsciously memorized my way out of elementary, high school and college history). Traveling with Up With People makes me wish that I had paid more attention. History is so engaging and interesting, and I know that it is never too late to hone this newfound interest.
Walking along the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall gave me a sense of wonder and sometimes severe goosebumps thinking about how it was to live in a violent, divided country. I can almost feel the terror of getting killed when escaping, or even hearing the cheers of the crowd when the wall finally fell. Ah, it was just so interesting for me! The picture below shows what they call the "death strip" where thousands died trying to escape East Germany.
Berlin is a busy city with so much history that it is impossible to walk around without wonder and awe (especially if it is your first time and you came with a purpose!) . We also passed a huge memorial for the casualties of the Holocaust (another very interesting subject for me, I have read a lot of books based on the Holocaust even before UWP) which I felt was cleverly done. It was very symbolic - just a labyrinth of blank grave-like structures. I was also able to see many memorials of people who died in the wars and also sculptures about the concentration camps.
I also saw the "United Buddy Bears" (http://www.united-buddy-bears.com/)-- the bear is another symbol of Berlin, and the United Buddy Bears are symbols of peace and unity. These are fiberglass bears painted by artists from all over the world. I absolutely fell in love with them :-) Apparently, these are the "Minis" and the original big bears are having their world tour.
These are the Golden Buddy Bears, which symbolizes the Golden Rule. The wording of the “Golden Rule” in different languages is distributed on two bears. According to the website, this further symbolizes that nobody can live on his or her own, that other people belong to our lives and that our behavior towards other people has consequences.
And look, a Philippine Buddy Bear! The plaque says it was painted by Filipino artist Pierre F. Patricio - that is the Philippine Eagle on the bear's tummy.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Cast B was in
If you didn’t know, ever since our first city on the road in the
- It is my first time in
Europe. The culture is very different.
- I don’t speak German. I can’t even pronounce the words.
- They don’t speak English.
- This is my first time working with a German person (Birte, our CRC)
- This is my first time working with a Macedonian person (Ljuan!)
- It is so cold.
- I ride a bike to get around. (Please see # 6 again…)
The previous week, Ljuan and I walked around the Prenzlau shops for show promotion. Not one of us spoke any German other than “Hallo!” , “Danke” (Thank You) , “Ja” (Yes), “Nein” (No) and “Tschius!” (Good Bye) – oh it was so funny! We mainly used facial expressions and body language to communicate.
Ordering coffee is an ordeal. Asking for a receipt is harder. Ah, imagine me trying to buy shampoo in a grocery shop where all labels are in German (I had to go back the next day because it turned out that it wasn’t shampoo after all!). But I am having a lot of fun. Even if Advance Work is Work (duh) it means I get to stay in a city longer. 3 weeks will mean I get to know my host family a little bit better (even if they speak very little English) and immerse in the culture a little bit deeper.
My host family are the Schmidts – Klemens (pronounced Kleemens) and Brunhilde (pronounced Brun-hild-uh) and we live about 10 minutes bike ride from the UWP office in town. They are really cool people. I am staying in their home with Birte, the UWP staff member.
Food has been very great too. Although I really like Italian, German food has proved to be very interesting. Meat and cheese are definitely favorites here (I love cheese and tasting all the different kinds is such fun!) – and I have also tried authentic sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) which I feel is very much like the Philippine atchara. My host mom Brunhilde is a wonderful cook.
Prenzlau is such a little place with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings. It is a small city where I believe everybody knows everybody. It is very beautiful this time of the year because the leaves have just started to change color. If I weren’t so stressed with riding my tall bike, I would have biked for hours in the breathtaking tree-lined pathways by the lake and the meadows.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Momentarily taking a break from UWP blogging to give honor to our brave Filipino citizens who gave up their lives fighting for the honor of our countrymen.
Remembering our fallen comrades
Ramon J. Farolan
October 08, 2007
MANILA, Philippines -- A week ago, four members of the Special Warfare Group (SWAG) of the Philippine Navy were killed in an encounter with suspected pirates off Basilan. SWAG elements better known as SEALs (Sea, Air, Land warriors), are considered as among the best-trained and best-equipped combat personnel of the Armed Forces.
Somehow the loss of these highly skilled fighting men reminded me of the disasters that we suffered earlier in the Basilan-Jolo area of operations.
It has been three months since 14 of our Marines were ambushed, beheaded and their bodies mutilated in an encounter with MILF/Abu Sayyaf elements in Albarca, Basilan. This was followed by another ambush, this time of Scout Ranger elements in Jolo. A test mission mounted on an Abu Sayyaf base in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, also resulted in the death of five officers and 10 enlisted men all belonging to Force Recon Class 13 of the Philippine Marines.
Slain Navy Seals honored with Gold Cross
By Nikko Dizon
Posted date: October 09, 2007
SANGLEY POINT, Cavite City, Philippines -- Eight months pregnant with their first child, Marilou Peralta said she lost "the center" of her life after her husband Ruel, a Navy Seal, was killed along with three other comrades in an encounter with alleged Abu Sayyaf members in Lanjil Island, Basilan, last week.
"My life revolved around him. He was the center of my life," Peralta, a 29-year-old teacher, tearfully said in Filipino.
The irony that the first time she and Ruel were at the La Naval Church at the Naval Base for their wedding last June was not lost on Marilou.
"This is our second time at this church but he's there," Marilou said, looking at her husband's coffin.
She promised Ruel she will take good care of his "junior" after an ultrasound test showed that they were having a baby boy.
And one day, too, Marilou will certainly show their son a little gold medal awarded to his father, to remind him of his bravery and gallantry in fighting Abu Sayyaf terrorists as a member of the elite Navy Special Operations Group (Navsog), formerly the Special Warfare and Action Group (SWAG) and the equivalent of the US Navy Seals.
The Navsog's Peralta, Jay Soguitan, Michael Abrio, and Joe Vincent Sistoza were on Monday posthumously awarded the Gold Cross Medal -- the third highest military award -- by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at noon at the church where their bodies lay in state.
With the President were Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., and Navy chief Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag.
The fallen soldiers' wives received their medals in their behalf, and gently laid the medals on their coffins. Sistoza's wife is also pregnant.
Two-year-old Angel Abrio drank from her milk bottle as she stared at the President briefly speak to her mother, Rhea, by her father's coffin.
The President also gave Soguitan's wife a brief hug. Ms Arroyo herself pinned a medal and promoted Soguitan last January as part of the team that neutralized Abu Sayyaf leader, "Black Killer," in Tawi-Tawi.
A photo of the President pinning a medal on Soguitan was placed atop the soldier's coffin.
The President has also increased financial assistance to families of soldiers killed in action from P100,000 to P250,000, military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, said.
The families of the four Navy seals each received P100,000 from Ms Arroyo Monday, "with the balance of P150,000 to follow," Bacarro said in a text message.
"The AFP has also been receiving donations from civilian intended for our casualties," he said.
The four Navy seals were killed last Oct. 1 in an encounter with alleged bandits led by Abu Sayyaf "sub-leader" Abdulrajak Sadikal in Lanjil, an island in the northeast of mainland Basilan.
The Navy last week described Sadikal's group as "pirates and lawless elements."
On Monday, it positively identified the group as the Abu Sayyaf.
Sadikal's main link to the terrorist group was his brother, Faisal, a known ASG member, said Vice Admiral Emilio Marayag, heads the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao.
"In Basilan, it's difficult to recognize the Abu Sayyaf from the non-Abu Sayyaf lawless elements. We have an unconfirmed report that Sadikal's group aided those who ambushed the Marines last July 10," Marayag said.
Lubos po akong nakikiramay sa mga pamilya ng mga sundalong namatay sa pakikipaglaban sa Mindanao. My very sincere condolences also to the teams at SWAG and the AFP.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
The Advance Team is already there and they are so busy making things work for the Cast. Do you think UWP is exciting? Do you feel like you would enjoy meeting people and learning about the places that I have been writing about on this blog?
UP WITH PEOPLE IS LOOKING FOR HOST FAMILIES!
Open your home to the world and enjoy a very different learning experience. There are 70 young people from 19 different countries needing a home in the Manila/ Makati area starting November 13, 2007 and they will stay for 3 weeks. Host families are expected to have a bed for the student to sleep in.. breakfasts and dinners.
Staying in host families is a really a big part of UWP and enables a student to really immerse in a country's culture. It makes one see a country beyond the surface :-)
Take part in this unique opportunity!
For more information, please contact Ana at 0920 9473723 or Margaux at 0915 295 1770 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also contact me ! Email me at email@example.com
(currently in Prenzlau)
Saturday, 6 October 2007
After a 30 hour bus ride from
The answer was mostly a puzzled look and a ‘No’. When I finally get a ‘Si’ (yes) and then ask my question, they talk to me in rapid Italian with confusing hand motions. Yes, that was what happened to me on my first day of navigating I go around the city using the Metro an d the train , and then the bus to go home to my host family's house.
I go around the city using the Metro an
train , and then the bus to go home to my host family's house.
I loved how it wasn’t so big and overwhelming like
My host family was wonderful. Nadia and Valerio spoke very piccolo English, but their 20 year old daughter Michela learned English in school and have traveled quite a bit. Michela also introduced me to her friends (it was a birthday party and we had Tiramisu!) and we went around downtown
I was in a "special" group in Italy. By "special" -- I meant that it was a unique arrangement because my CI group was completely detached from the cast for 3 days! This was because (1) The partner organization requested for a spec ific number of people and these SAME people should come for all 3 days and (2) The CI site was some 2 hours away from the meeting facility. It totally felt weird because a lot of us felt so disconnected and (excus e the word) abandoned!
I was in a "special" group in Italy. By
"special" -- I meant that it was a unique arrangement because my CI group was completely detached from the cast for 3 days! This was because (1) The partner organization requested for a spec
ific number of people and these SAME people should come for all 3 days and (2) The CI site was some
2 hours away from the meeting facility. It totally felt weird because a lot of us felt so
e the word) abandoned!
We worked with an organization called Amici de Bambini (Friends of Children), preparing for a fundraising exhibit and designer T-shirt sale. The advance team in Milan called it the "Fashion CI", but really, it was far from fashionable. We cleaned the warehouse, painted walls, and prepared exhibit materials. (Note: I never imagined myself walking around Milan, the fashion capital of the world, looking so scruffy in my working clothes! Ahh, Up With People!)
Being separated from the cast for 3 days was really frustrating for the group. Hardly any information reached us, and we were working until show day afternoon. But as always, we had to make the most out of it and came out of the grueling 3 days more mature and with new learnings. The small group was able to get to know each other really well underneath the surface.
We were supposed to have only one show in Italy, and one special night BTS for the host families who lived far from Milan (the students were hosted in Milan and in a little town called Cusano Milanino, where a Catholic church helped find host families). But the Cusano community apparently requested for a whole show, so we ended up performing 2 shows!
In Euro culture prep, they told us that encores are part of the culture. And indeed it was! "Bis! Bis!" the people chanted, and yes, we performed an encore for the 2 shows in Italy! It was an amazing experience performing onstage and seeing people watching us happily. I know we have performed in a lot of shows, but Europe gave me a different feeling because the people's language is so different. Yet, they seemed to enjoy the show!
Shaking the hands of the people while saying "Grazie!" was very uplifting. They shook our hands very warmly, sometimes we get a hug, or double kisses (in Filipino, beso-beso) and warm words of Italian appreciation. It felt very good.
As we in Viva La Gente say, "Music is the universal language"
I wish I had more time in Italy! Would love to come back in the future!