Category Archives: Student Life

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

Says it all..

Blessed, that is exactly how I describe my internship with UNICEF Laos.

I love to dream. Irritatingly cheesy but I grew up believing that I can do anything as long as I work hard and commit to it. With a little smile from fate and support from my family and friends, someday I will be able to make my dreams–or as I call them plans–happen.

But if there is one thing I learned from planning, that is they do not always work they way we want them to. Something goes awry along the way, no matter how fixated one is in carrying them out. Indeed, lessons are learned the hard way but we are given a choice to wallow or to push forward.

I must admit wallowing was an immediate response to the failure stimulus; however, after falling flat on face several times over, I found out that wallowing is just as equally exhausting as moving on and starting over. After a moment of weakness that comes from every plan gone askew, I pick myself up, ignore the numbing agony of rejection and failure, hold my head up high and…dream again. But dreaming can only do so much and it could be extremely taxing to chase on something that, for lack of a better term, is not meant to be. Sometimes, it is better to let go of old dreams and just face reality as I see it.

So you can just imagine how my heart started beating double-time, alarms ringing in my ears, my head throbbing while reading that one email that changed the course of my professional career. An internship so elusive that filling out application forms is just as futile as looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was it. All the months of hard work, emotional craze, and ripping plans apart felt like a distant memory. Finally, I breathed as I wrote my reply.

Surprise! I’ve always been the Girl-Who-Takes-Pictures, this time they let me say something to the kids. My Lao was put to test!

Second day into my internship, I was sent out for an assignment in the Southern province of Laos. It was my first time exploring the South; as much as I would want to get my blog-mode on, we were on a tight schedule. The Mother of All Deadlines, as I put it. We roughly had a few hours for interview, write the story and send it to the main office. We were running on adrenaline, and perhaps, there was also that element of commitment that we were able to make the deadline. And it yielded desirable results.

After that eventful week, the days went by like a tremendous blur of tasks, alongside my Master’s classes that were just as astoundingly demanding. But what kept me going is the trust given by my supervisors and staff–so overwhelming, it felt surreal. My supervisors specifically instructed me to prioritize my studies, and never compromise it for the sake of my assigned tasks. I was treated as a colleague, and my opinions mattered. My service was not considered as just an ‘intern’s output’ but rather held with respect and appreciation, and with that, I am deeply honored.

And today, my 16 weeks of service comes to a close. It feels like a surge of emotions, actually. Relief because battling wits in class and helping with documents at work did knock me down, but also separation anxiety because I may never have this kind of experience again. Worried because I have to start regrouping and planning my next steps. Proud because I made it. Immensely grateful, bordering on feeling unworthy, of all these blessings.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to UNICEF Laos for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime and for teaching me in more ways than I have expected. To my supervisors who were patient and kind in guiding me, and for being very supportive; to my colleagues who were accommodating, attentive to my questions and always ready to help out when I am feeling lost or confused. To everyone I have worked with, to all the staff–thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate your warm welcoming smiles.

During the basii ceremony for the new staff in August (it was held two days after my birthday actually), I said that my months with UNICEF Laos will be my best yet. Turns out I was wrong. It is the best because nothing will ever compare.

I do not have to articulate everything the organization has done in serving the vulnerable and marginalized for decades–millions of people reached and lives changed–you are a blessing to the society.

You are a blessing to dreamers like me.

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Filed under Student Life, Walk and Talk, When In Laos

Wake Me Up When September Ends

I cannot believe I am composing my final learning blog for the semester. It only seemed like yesterday I was reading a new novel every single day–yes, that was how much time I had, coupled with my Insomnia, or something like it–then this semester started that felt like a tremendous blur of events, requirements, exercises, late-night group-chats and a tsunami of write-ups. I had 9 units worth of graduate courses, an internship programme, and a lot overthinking going on about my career plans. With all the tasks piling by the minute, but with some awesome times worth smiling for, this semester felt all too surreal.

Project PWP

DEVC 208, or distance learning in general, never fails to amaze me. Whenever I think about our group-chats on Facebook to plan and to design our online-based campaign, I still find myself totally amused as to how unconventional our set-up was–and yet it felt totally normal and natural.

On the first day of classes, my classmate, (Ate) Criselle left a message in my ‘class profile’ and asked if I already have a group. I replied ‘Yes’, but it also appeared that I have not gone through the course guide yet because the group she was referring to was different from the discussion group. Apparently, we have to form a group of 5-7 people to design an online-based social marketing plan and implement it! I just felt grateful she invited me the first time around, or else I might have ended up alone–even online.

One by one, the group came along. We are all ladies, hence the name Girl Power. During our first brainstorming session, we spent hours planning on a campaign that we thought was what was expected from us (about maternal healthcare and actually going to the communities to implement it). It was, again, a bad case of not reading instructions; but it was good that we have clarified the pointers first. After our chat sessions that seemed to go on forever, albeit having personal lives away from the computer (I don’t!), I won’t bore you with the details, Project PWP was born.

After creating the survey instrument, I had fun reading through our respondents’ answers. Since the survey is also administered online, I also received feedback from our respondents supporting our advocacy, and how they appreciate the campaign. We are on our fourth week into implementing Project PWP and I can say that it’s going pretty well. Implementing it is, surprisingly, influencing my own point-of-views about child discipline. I have always thought punishing kids when they throw tantrums was acceptable, after reading through the articles and the articles from our contributors, turns out children need a happy childhood to grow up as happy adults. And hurting them will leave scars, physically and emotionally. I do not want to be the kind of parent who will be resented by her kids.

I am proud to have my Ate’s (big sisters) as group members for their patience, hardwork and dedication. They also became a support group when times got tough. We even scheduled to meet up during graduation rites, then I found out that we are not graduating at the same semester. I wish to meet them soon, and see if they are also as crazy as in person!

DEVC 208 Experience

As in the previous posts, I have always loved the thought of Social Marketing. It is, I believe, my favorite form of behavior-change intervention because it appeals to a more personal level. This was also equally challenging for I have never designed my own SocMar plan before. As I went through the exercises, I learned a lot about the concept, development and implementation of a SocMar plan. But I guess it’s true what the say, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. And that’s absolutely unsettling.

I always feel a wave of relief mixed with excitement and sometimes, anxiety, whenever I get to hit the ‘submit’ button. The modules went along just fine, although I did want to lash out to some comments of my classmates about my campaign (that’s just me being defensive, sorry!), I still understood that those comments were meant to improve my outputs and not to offend me personally.

Anyway, thank you, classmates for a wonderful semester. Of course to Prof. Mel for patiently guiding and teaching us. Now, I can finally wake up. Or not. ­čÖé

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The God of Marketing

I do believe that I am not the only who thinks the marketing team of Coca-cola is genius. A worthy runner-up, to me, would be McDonald’s. But then again, I did not grow up watching American TV.

This is, by far, my most favorite Coke Moment yet. Garnering 1,000,000++ views on YouTube (I seriously believe it should have more), this video is about overseas Filipino workers who haven’t been home in such a long time. They are being reunited with their loved ones with the help of Coca-cola. I am not exactly away from my family, but I got a little teary-eyed while watching this.

I think Coke is the standard for effective product-placement and marketing materials. They do not even have to try to sell their products because Coke is a household name, but the tremendous efforts in conceptualizing their marketing strategies are just beyond excellent. Coke remained to be one of the strongest companies in the entire world, not withstanding controversies on health issues, etc.

Any teenager who has seen this TVC and did NOT try it missed half of his life!

I am still cheering for Team Coca-cola, but with one of its sister beverages–Sprite! ‘Magpakatotoo Ka’ series really made waves. The line itself became an expression to the rest of the Filipino community when a friend is in need of a flat-out reality check.

My runner-up. McDonald’s has been always about family. Although, no matter how genius their ads are–Jollibee, in all its glory and Pinoy-style spaghetti, is the leading fast-food chain in the country.

Their marketing strategies have made millions for their company, created loyal customers and followers. Now, if only social marketing can be that powerful. And I mean the long-term effects, not just the hype.

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