Today, Tomorrow, Always

Good evening from Ziyue. This blog post comes a day late from celebrating (North American) National Interns Day, and what a fitting week to have such a day as the fellowship nears its end.

As our supply of malaria pills runs low, as we search anxiously for gifts to bring home, as the number of fellows drops (What the heck, Brian!?), I’ve been left in deeper moments of reflection as to all the lessons and memories I have gained from this summer. And as the fellows recount all the “lasts” that we experience in the moment, I’ve come to cherish every interaction so much more. Disclaimer, it’s all making me very, very sad.

But I’m not one to recount sob stories, we’ve done so much in the past week to be proud of!

Brian the Builder.jpg
Brian the Builder shows no signs of slowing down either!

After our eventful week in Puerto Princesa, I settled back into the groove to prepare for an Excel training workshop for the accounting team at Lio Estate and the island resorts. On Saturday morning, I taught advanced skills in Excel so that others can understand how to use data templates that I created and so that they could apply the same skills to their own spreadsheets. The workshop was both a success and so much fun! I especially loved playing icebreakers at the beginning to learn something new about everyone, even EO’s Jamie and Han.

The rest of the week until today, Friday, has been a rush to deliver our project and presentation before the summer’s end, a journey that has been equally as nerve-racking as it is exciting to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition. Wild Nido, the El Nido eco-checklist, has evolved into so much and will be available soon.

But in the middle of it all, the fellows continued to have side adventures as is always the case in El Nido. After gaining an appreciation for the sea, I finally decided to begin and finish my advanced open water dive certification. Never have I felt so free under the ocean. And it’s all thanks to the watchful mentorship of Divemaster Rowell. Thankfully, I was able to invite some others to join me for several dives.

Bayley, Brian, Cait, and I diving with Rowell at Popolcan on Sunday.

Equally as timeless as our summer dives was Manny Pacquiao’s impressive bout against Keith Thurman, where Pacman showed an ageless ferocity to take down his younger opponent.

On Monday, Brian and I returned to Kiminawit to introduce some worksheets in financial literacy to help the women better manage their money. The smiles as they greeted us reminded me of the importance of community work as they always have. From them, I have learned an important lesson an empathy that I hope to carry with me always.

Brian and I with ates Jen, Eileen, and Joanne at Kiminawit

Another adventure popped up on Tuesday in Bacuit Bay as the fellows joined Kuya Alfredo on a traditional fishing adventure. Under the scorching sun, we sat on the squall begging any fish to catch our bait. It turned out to be a pretty good day for fishing, because we taught a total of 17 by the end of the morning! With some help from Kuyas Arvin and Alfredo of course. The fish soon found themselves in our stomach as they were served to us grilled, fried, souped, and sashimied at lunch.

At one point, everyone had caught a fish except for me…

Finally came July 24th, the day that Brian had to leave the Philippines for his own adventure in Chile, and the day that I was dreading all week. It was sad to see him leave, but looking back I can’t believe how strong a friendship we developed in such a few weeks. I was also so proud to see all that he had accomplished in his project. Conservation Sewmates was a huge success, one that affected so many lives, and one that could change the direction of local purchasing in the resorts. And guess what, his project was a smashing success with the managing committee!

Saying goodbye to Brian one last time.

As I prepare for final presentations, I’ve come to reflect on the amazing experiences I’ve taken part of today, how I can apply everything that I’ve learned tomorrow, and the moral lessons and personal growth I’ll carry with me always. This summer has been more than just data, it’s been the people, engaging with communities, and learning cultures. These are stories that I will cherish long after I work on data.

By the way, thank Bayley for the title and a brilliant marketing logo.

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