Three months. It's now been three months since we left our second home in Ukraine to move on to new adventures in Lebanon. While this change was a good one for us on a number of levels, I am still feeling incredibly sad about leaving Kyiv, PSI, and so many of our friends behind in Ukraine.
What do I mean by "sad?" I mean that I still tear up when I think about people I worked with last year. When I look at the photos of all the Kyiv and Ukraine Instagram accounts that I follow I start to cry. When I see the photos of the fall colors and remember how much I loved walking through the park on a cool autumn day, drinking coffee and watching life go by, I get super nostalgic. So hence this particular post.
I am enjoying certain things about being in Lebanon. People here are so incredibly nice. Colleagues are wonderful, food is delicious, and it's such a fascinating part of the world to live in. That said, I've had a rough start to the school year. The students I teach are not well-behaved, and I haven't dealt with that for over a decade (since leaving Texas public school). I'm back in the system that grades on a 1-100 scale, and my students are O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with every single point. I'm torn between completely lowering my expectations for grading to make my own life easier, and the disservice it will eventually do for the students. The work load is not incredibly heavy, mind you. I think I just put a lot of pressure on myself to do things well and misbehaved children in my classes holds that back.
Volleyball season just ended and I felt like I couldn't even really enjoy that because I'm so tired at the end of the school day. On the plus side, we traveled to Kuwait for our tournament so there's another country checked off the list that, let's be honest, I wouldn't be traveling to for holiday.
Next week is FINALLY fall break for us, and I think if I had to wait 5 more weeks until winter break I'd be finished. We are traveling to Slovenia for 5 days and then on to Vienna to catch the Christmas market. I'm literally ecstatic to get back into nature and away from my classroom. So hopefully you'll soon see an update on our first few months in Lebanon and hear about our adventures in Slovenia.
“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” – Denis Waitley
Every time we've gone to the Philippines for a visit we've been greeted at the airport by a group of smiling family members who are so happy for us to be there! They drive up from Los Banos in a van, spend a few hours at the casino, and then pick us up at whatever ungodly hour our flight arrives. Almost every time, a face among those we see upon arrival is that of our Tita Joy.
On Thursday, 1 November near midnight, Tita Joy left this world for the next.
One of my first and most vivid memories of Tita Joy is the first time Rex took me to the Philippines for Christmas in 2008. We were living in China at the time so the flight was just a hop. There were so many different parties, but there was a very lively one at Tita Ycel and Tito Ike's house, that involved karaoke (as you do... always), more food than I could imagine, carolers from the nearby church, and Tita Joy dancing in the living room to "La Isla Bonita." To this day that song reminds me of her dancing and singing along on that night.
Tita Joy (actually Jocelyn, but nobody calls her that informally) embodied her name. Always smiling, ready for a good time, cracking jokes (usually in Tagalog), and putting smiles on the faces of those around her. Her Facebook feed is full of posts using "Joy" in some way, always a play on words with her own name. It is also filled with pictures of her posing with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and so many awards!
Yes, Tita Joy lived an extraordinary and in my opinion full life and while she will be sorely missed (and already is) the world is a little better because of her being a part of it. Dr. Joy Eusebio worked in agriculture with University of the Philippines, Los Banos, doing some life-changing work. I don't know all of the details, but I often had conversations with her about her part in researching and testing golden rice (rice modified to produce extra beta carotene/vitamin A), and only last week she posted photos from another conference in which she was recognized for her contributions in sustainable agriculture in the Philippines. Last time we were visiting we were watching the news one evening and an interview with Dr. Jocelyn Eusebio was featured. She was well-respected in her area of expertise. Tita Joy traveled all over Asia as a consultant and expert on agriculture. If I ever saw a post with about 10 pictures of flowers, I could usually count on it being by Tita Joy, traveling to another new area and admiring nature and its beauty.
Thank you for all the smiles, the laughs, the travels, the conversations, and may you rest in peace, Tita Joy. For Rex and me, visits to the Philippines will never be the same. For the world, you have left more than your share of positive marks.