A Welcoming of New and Old

I’m Ziyue, the “IT guy” of the cohort.

The interns are concluding our fourth week at the resorts, and as cliche as it sounds, the week seemed to have gone by fastest. With the direction of our projects solidifying, we have thrown ourselves into our ideas to meet the quadruple bottom line of the company. Personally, it has been exhilarating to manipulate and analyze the wealth of data collected by the resorts and to improve the technological experience of guests.

Brian and I spent the first half of the week at Lagen Resort, our familiar sanctuary, with mother Han (mother Hen get it?) keeping a watchful eye. We were also joined early on by new additions to the environmental team. They include VITOOO PUYAT, the new environmental assistant for Apulit, and Marga and Sabrina, interns from Manila who will be advancing their own projects for the next weeks. As the family grew bigger, the dinner table also got livelier, and it has been fascinating to hear the experiences of three Filipinos who have spent time abroad talk about the norms of island life with the great world across the sea. Vito is as amiable as he is honest, and displays his passion for environmentalism with burning fiery. Sabrina, while only a high schooler, shows an unrestrained curiosity for the world and a fearlessness to express what she sees. Finally, Marga is one of the most caring people I have ever known, always observant of the people and places around her to offer encouragement or to interject a conversation with her trademark optimism and energy.

Meanwhile, Brian has continued to be my only remedy for island fever with his constant drive for adventure. As always, the people have made this experience the most rewarding.

After spending time with the new members of the team and working on my project, everyone headed to Lio Beach on Wednesday for our Thursday workshop with Dean Antonio La Vena. Dean Tony, as he likes to be called, has been a leader in environmental policy and social enterprise for decades, and his accomplishments have been enshrined onto his very own Wikipedia page. I was immediately in awe, one because of his passionate commitment to equality and environmentalism, two because of his intimidatingfigure, but also because I view having a Wikipedia page as a symbol of having-made-it. And Dean Tony no doubt had made it.

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The fellows learn from Dean Tony

Our workshop on Thursday focused on sustainable social enterprises and concepts that we could apply to empower local communities during our projects this summer. Dean Tony spoke of his past experiences with an aura of authority and expertise that few people I have ever met possess. He was a trailblazer in climate change expertise and has negotiated international treatises with far-reaching consequences. But for me, Dean Tony was most impressive in how he delivered his message. He spoke with an ease of tempo that carried hope. He was a teacher for thousands, and he carried himself as the kind of role model that leaves lasting messages.

After Dean Tony gave a brief module on the merits and characteristics of social enterprises, the interns and environmental team were tasked with brainstorming ways in which to improve the conservation sew mates project, an initiative kickstarted by an NGO to empower local women by teaching them to sew plushes that could be sold at the resorts, and the Tabuan, the weekend market at Lio. These were both experiences that made me reflect on how uncertain the present it, but how everything could grow dramatically in just a few years’ time

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From left to right, top to bottom: Elaine, Marga, Sabrina, Jaime, Ziyue, Brian, Dean Tony, Bayley, Shine, Han, Caitlin, VITO, B

We finally ended the week with all the interns presenting our current work plans to Han, Ms. Marigs, and Jamie. It was a fitting way to end such a busy week, and the prospects of what our projects will offer are as exciting as ever.

 

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