Just small town girl
Livin´ in a lonely world
She took the midnight
Train going anywhere…
I often sing this song Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ with all my heart even when I’m out of tune during karaoke nights with family or friends.
I like to daydream, to travel, to see the world, but just like every normal person, I live with an average salary. I had a regular eight-to-five office job and then I had some several part-time work as a college lecturer, freelance photographer, and tour guide.
I love my job and my colleagues were really nice but there was this feeling of longing within me.
In 2015, I applied to be a volunteer abroad. I was just trying my luck for a scholarship and, luckily, I got it!
By June 2016, I did not renew my work contract. I was set to leave by August the next year, but unfortunately, I did not get an interview slot and the only available was on November. I moved to Manila to get German language classes. I am quite lucky because my parents did help me finance it. (Thanks, mama and papa!)
Few days before my interview, I was told that I have to cancel it since the organization that I would work for no longer needed a volunteer worker. I have my German certificate. I had no job. The sending program told me they can look for another organization but there was almost no assurance.
I went back home and did more freelance work. On my spare time, I participated on some volunteer works in our local community.
There was a time that I joined a team to distribute relief goods and I saw people who were terribly affected by the typhoon. I met people who lost their homes but still managed to be happy.
That hit me. I felt ashamed because I am so blessed yet I am unhappy. I forgot to be grateful and to appreciate the wonderful things around me because I was too focused somewhere else. Maybe the idea of having a gap year does not have to rely on the destination, but on the journey.
I continued my profession as a photographer and as a tour guide for my side job while also spending more quality time with my family. I also did not stop to look for other opportunities going to Europe, getting a Master’s degree, au pair, and volunteer work. I never stopped. I honestly do not know how but I did not stop telling the universe that I wanted to go to Europe, either for vacation or a long term stay. I just really wanted to see the other side of the world and to experience snow and be far away to test my limits.
Then I got the chance! Not just once, but twice!
On June 2017, I got the chance to be one of the facilitators for the AFS preparation camp of the German Youth who are going to Philippines, Malaysia, and China for their volunteer program. I spend 10 days in Germany with all expenses paid.
The second one was for the volunteer year. I arrived here on August 2017 and I am going back to Philippines on the end of July 2018.
I am part of the Pedagogy Department of Internationales Haus Sonnenberg, a non-government organization that promotes non-school based education on political education for the youth, adults, people with disabilities, teachers, and families. My task is to do photo and video documentation of the seminars, promotional materials, update the social media, and assist during the seminars.
Life really just surprises you if keep an open mind, an heart, and courage.
So I will continue singing that Journey song.
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— Ibalio Stories (@IbalioStories) June 11, 2018
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