Hanna Fernando-Pacua (PHILIPPINES) temporarily leaves her comfort zone to travel, serve, and perform around the world in five months. She hopes to share with you this very meaningful experience.

Up with People provides students with an extraordinary semester of traveling the world. As a student your perspectives on the world will never be the same. UWP is for that certain student who's looking for an intense, hands-on, involved global educational experience. The program addresses the very real need for young adults and leaders who have global perspectives, intercultural understanding, knowledge of worldwide social issues, leadership skills and a dedication to community service. For more information, visit www.upwithpeople.org.

HANNA's SATTELITE SITE and GALLERY (+ photos, videos, calendar) http://www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/

Thursday, 17 January 2008

The End of My Journey

As wonderful as it was - and there are still a lot of stuff that I want to go back to, and write about, and share with you... I believe it is now time for me to move on!

It is very hard to sum up what I have learned from UWP. When faced with the question, “How was it?” we alumni would probably share knowing glances with understanding settling happily deep in our hearts. Trying to explain the experience to non-alumni would be very, very difficult – with the risk also of sounding so weird.

I could probably come up with a whole compilation of stuff I learned, ranging from leadership concepts, stages of group development, facilitation and communication techniques to immigration policies – and even a whole slew of games that can be played by people from six to sixty. But I will spare you from that overwhelming sensation and share with you the seemingly small, but valuable lessons that I learned from my UWP experience.

As one of our songs in the Show goes, “One to One, We Change the World” – when we help, let’s not dwell on how many people --- but think more about how we can help them well. Let’s not think about saving the world (this can get overwhelming) but let’s think about helping one person at a time, or taking up one cause at a time and totally being committed to it without flying away from reality. Don’t limit yourself to seeing only a few ways on how people can help others – some blessed people may have the money, the power, and the fame to give away, but you might have the passion, the time, the heart and the talent to share to make a difference in people’s lives.

Open your eyes to your surroundings. You never know when your help can be valuable. Or when what’s happening can be valuable to you. Always remember that even one chance encounter can impact your life (or theirs!). Watch the news. Read the papers. Care and be aware.

The hardest person to ever try to please is your self. We may set outrageous standards for ourselves based on comparison to other people. Let’s make our own (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound) goals and reach for it. Make each task your own.

Accept compliments, treasure and nurture them – and use them well. Believe in yourself enough to have self-confidence … but not too much that you make others lose theirs. Be open to feedback and be thankful for honesty – because criticism can be the best advice that people who really care can give you.

Celebrate differences. The world would be boring without it. You might also be surprised how similar two different people can be – no matter where they are from or what their status in life is. And, always remember that what is “common sense” to you may not be the same kind of “common sense” to others.

Think positive. Do not be scared of the world. Bad stuff are probably only 5% of everything that is happening. Good stuff don’t make the news because they are, well, normal. People and the World are essentially good; they just need to be constantly reminded about it.

It’s never too late to get yourself out of a mess. It’s never too late for you to pursue your passion.

Take pictures. Journal. Remember people’s names. Live in the now but do not lose sight of the past and plan (not worry) for the future.

Communicate. It may be hard sometimes but it would be harder not to.

Dance :-) believe me it doesn't matter if you do it well or not. Just dance and feel its power!

Love and Respect are the two essential values that everyone should possess to achieve world peace.

These were the lessons I learned and will value for the rest of my life. The UWP experience is a very personal experience, and what I have written here may not be the case for my other cast-members. As with any other experience, you live it, you make it your own, and you learn what you choose to learn.

Up with People was an amazing experience, and I will never stop raving on and on about how it made lot of my dreams come true. I traveled the world, went whitewater rafting, danced and sang on stage, did a whole lot of service, made a presentation in front of an international audience, saw Anne Frank’s House for real, been on TV – and a lot more. But it is about time that I plant myself firmly on Philippine soil and start living again.

This blogging adventure, like the actual journey – was never without bumps. I had trouble updating for many reasons, lack of time, lack of will, lack of internet access (but certainly not lack of interesting things! The events chronicled here are not even in the vicinity of EVERYTHING that happened!). If I ever offended anyone in any way, I am deeply sorry but please trust me when I say that I just write from the heart and nothing is ever intentional.

This blog will stay online as long as the World Wide Web permits it to be here (may I share also that I think the Internet is the best modern world invention there is!) – and will hopefully serve as a reference for me to look back to when I start to forget about the good things in life, and when I need to be reminded about the lessons I learned.

Perhaps up until the time that I will be able to compile and edit this and maybe publish a book :grin: Now, that is a dream that is worth pursuing. I will keep you posted AND feel free to keep in touch!

I will continue to arrange trip photos in my www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com account.

Long overdue twist blogging resumes at www.bananaspin.blogspot.com

Feedback most welcome, email me at hanna.fernando@gmail.com


Laurel Lee said...

Oh Hannah. How wise you are. I couldn't agree more with every word. It's so hard to express the experience and to but it into words. We learned so much and had so much fun. I cant wait til I can come to the philippines and see my bannanas in action. I hope 2008 is a wonderful year! I love and miss you!!! ~Laurel

Paul Michael said...

I'm so proud of you banana! Excited to get a copy of your book. :)