June 17

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Here I Am. Look at Me Now.

Save The Children Here I Am to Be The Change

I almost can’t believe I am here. I have to pinch myself. Its been quite a busy week. I have spent my days getting acclimated at Save The Children and being the liason to our GSK corporate office for Orange Week. Everyone has been so sweet and helpful. Its true what they say about Philippino culture.

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It seems like so long ago that my manager emailed our team about a Pulse live meeting/conference call. I was intrigued as I have done mission work abroad, most recently in Haiti last summer with my son. I listened to Vivian present her story about experiencing a typoon in the Philippines during her assignment.  The pictures she shared brought me to tears. Who knew,  fast forward six months, and I’d be going to the Philippines, and Vivian would be my Pulse buddy. Wow!!! I also got advice from two past Pulse volunteers, Judy Schindler and Barbara Dean. They both had wonderful experiences. I was pumped!!! I called my manager and told her I wanted to apply. Bless Nicole Sautro. She was so supportive and shared my enthuasiasm. I spent much of my Christmas break completing the lengthy application process.  It gave me time to reflect. I am so close to my family and friends, especially my children. Could I really leave for six months? I came to realize by going on this Pulse journey, I am being a role model to them. I have been so blessed in my life with a support network of family, friends and a strong church community. To whom much is given, much is expected. I have a passion to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. I really want to be on the cutting edge of global healthcare improvement. So here I am. Living my dreams. Traveling the world, being the change and experiencing culture.

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As for my arrival, I was truly exhausted after 31 hours of flying to get here. I quickly realized I’m not in America anymore.  I arrived to a jam packed Manilla airport late in the evening. No amount of preparation could truly prepare me for everything I saw. The poverty was heartbreaking to see. Many young children were walking the streets of downtown Manilla at midnight. They are hungry and some didn’t even have shoes. This city never sleeps. There is no substitute for first hand experience. I got this immediately.

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Thankfully, my Filippino friend, Mae, was with me. She was my guardian angel and ensured I safely got to the hotel. My aunt, uncle and four cousins lived in the Philippines and still have many friends here. Its nice to have  connections. One such new friend is sightseeing with my husband and son this week while I work.

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Yes I have my family visiting to help me get settled in. It will be so sad to see them go on Wednesday. They arrived on Friday and we celebrated the Philippine Independence Day together. My son celebrated his sixteenth birthday over the weekend on Borocay Island and got his first scuba diving experience.

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My husband will have his first Father’s Day in Asia. They had a different flight here and laid over in Dubai. My fellow pulse colleague, Quitaiba, helped them on where to go. My son has had wide eyes since leaving the US and that’s saying something for a teenager.

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I already realize how the Pulse program is challenging me. I have found an inner strength to brave the elements and get around this week. The diverse challenges have tested me: the crowds, heat and standing out like a sore thumb. On the positive side, I went from average height to being very tall overnight. LOL! I am learning the native language and eating new foods. I see the leadership potential my work will tap into. I welcome the opportunity to “Be The Change’. I am already being forced to tap into my inner strength to conquer the stress and uncertainty. This assignment will foster me to become more creative, assertive, and a better leader, not to mention my people agility.

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I am so grateful to the Pulse program especially Lucas, Mae and Ali, my manager Nicole Sautro, my Pulse buddy Vivian  and Mike McTerrin for giving me this opportunity. I will be the change. Thank you for following along with me on this