bags packed June 17

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A New Chapter

It has been a few weeks since the PULSE face-to-face training and while I am thinking about this new beginning, I am also reflecting. I have been amazed by how the PULSE team at GSK has carefully planned the details and provided support every step of the way to prepare volunteers for our assignments.

I will be working with Save the Children, based out of the Manila office. I already feel a connection with my manager, RM, at Save the Children. I can feel the warmth that she radiates, even though we have yet to meet in person! That kindness all anyone needs to thrive and I am no exception.

Lately, I have been thinking about my first international trip – the one I took to USA from India – for my graduate studies. I’m dating myself here, but at the time, the internet didn’t exist, phone calls were exorbitantly expensive, and I had no idea when I’d next see my family in Kolkata. Despite widespread encouragement, few people were in a position to advise me on what lay ahead. I grew up, learned through experience, and built my own support network. I know facing those challenges made me who I am today.

Over the past few decades, the world has gotten smaller and my community has grown larger. Twenty-seven years after I first landed in Philly, I feel prepared for this next journey empowered by the support of GSK and the ease of digital communication. I’ve emailed and spoken with past PULSE volunteers whose experiences, including AB’s at Jhpeigo, inspired me; I’ve smiled at R through Skype; I’ve purchased a smartphone online for international use (thanks for the recommendation GP!). At the urging of my Pinoy friend and colleague, AA, I’ve even traced the sidewalks outside my hotel and begun compiling a list of suggested restaurants!

I have a prevailing sense of gratitude for my built-in support system: my friends and family, the Pulse Team, especially LS, my team of mentors and coaches located around the world (DJ, NT, AB, MB), EJ and LB who brilliantly facilitated discussion at the training, my manager RD who has had faith in me since I first floated the idea of applying, and my colleagues (including CH, LT, MS, JZ, DW, SI) who will be picking up additional work so I can embark upon this exciting journey. I have promised many people to stay in touch, starting with an “I’ve safely arrived” email on Thursday.

Of course, in 1989, the way we used to convey that was to ring on a payphone upon arrival; we talked for fewer than 90 seconds and reserved more detailed exchanges for snail mail.

I hope this blog will be a way for you to follow along and stay updated–a middle ground between a digital WhatsApp message and a letter that arrives three weeks after being postmarked. While it may take me a bit of time to send that initial “letter,” or post, you can engage instantly in the comments below!

I will be staying and working in Makati City, located within the metropolitan region of Manila. From a distance, it is hard to tell the difference between the skylines of Makati and Philadelphia, posted below. I’m sure more contrasts will reveal themselves as I begin to settle in. What do you think?

I have listed a few of the innumerable differences between my journey to the U.S. and my journey to the Philippines in this post, but I will end with three key similarities:

I will miss my family. While I will not miss cooking for them, I will miss sharing ice cream with my husband and daughter after a day at the office.

I am temporarily relocating to learn and grow. This time, I am not pursuing “formal” education and the move is much shorter, but I hope the lessons and teachers I encounter will challenge, shape, and enrich me. I immigrated to the U.S. as a university student and ended up staying for 25+ years, so who knows… (just kidding ;))

I am empowered to turn a new page in my life’s story. I look forward to the exciting adventures that await!

Makati (top) & Philadelphia (bottom) skylines

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