Another Close Encounter
Sometimes, all it takes is an invitation to be able to experience something communal and yet so uniquely your own in appreciating life’s little wonders.The Student Development Center (SDC) is one venue that provides opportunities in seeing the world in a new light. As one of the representatives of SDC, I am a witness to that.
It was with the invite from COPERS (Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services) for a debriefing of soldiers formerly assigned in Basilan, that I reached another set of “first moments/milestones” in my life. 1. Visit Butuan City. 2. Travel overnight for volunteer activities. 3. Debrief soldiers in the likelihood of the “torya-torya” module of Dr. Gail Tan Ilagan, Ph.D. (author of the book War Wounded).
The travel was last Sunday (June 23, 2013) was quite uneventful (mainly because I slept all throughout the trip – from 12:00MN to 6:00AM approximately – with a few waking moments in between) since it was the ever-famous “Nonoy Legend” who was our designated driver on the trip, making sure we were all safe and sound in the van. We arrived in Butuan City roughly around 6AM. Had our breakfast in Dottie’s , took a couple of snapshots, and went on our way to our destination.
Arriving at the camp, we were warmly greeted by the officers and had our short introductions. While we were taking a couple of minutes rest in our transient facility’s room, my roommates and I were able to discuss how to get on with the “torya-torya” (as some of them were new volunteers) and my ever-ready GLH engaged in practicing activities that may help in the debriefing.
True enough… her skills were called for during the lull periods in between (as evidenced below):
Anyway, since there were only 20 volunteers accounted for and an estimated 360 soldiers to get to know better, the numbers became a bit overwhelming. However, the actual number lessened so 15 of us were assigned to one team composed of 7 soldiers to talk to.
At first, I was having doubts on my capabilities… worrying that they might not want to talk to me about their life and if I would be of any help at all. Or worse, would be at such a loss that I’d have to raise my own white flag in surrender! Facilitating teambuilding I could handle, but this might be more than what I bargained for. Thankfully, the soldiers were very gallant and were easy to talk with that it felt like being able to see how they live their lives whenever they have operations.
Here are a couple of photos of the encounter.
Under the proverbial mango tree (not really a mango tree though).
After all teams were gathered and closing remarks were said, time for some photo ops!
A surprise token of appreciation for volunteers.
Authentic Boodle fights.
A surprise token of appreciation.
Volunteers were also debriefed.
Sharing This One: Making use of what you have
Most times you always come prepared. Other times… not. Sometimes, starting and progressing in an activity are easily prepared. It’s the wrapping up part that blocks you. Like how you would be able to capture each person’s insight in one statement. Words make you clumsy. Nearing the end of my personal “torya-torya” with my team, panic started to creep into my psyche as to how I should make a fitting closure for our group. Thankfully I had a pack of Mentos with me.
My story of the Mentos.
Imagine that you are a Mentos candy. It has a hard outer shell. Much like every person. How we were raised, how we were trained, and what we’ve experienced make us strong, tough, and – sometimes – hardened. But no matter how hard and unyielding the exterior may seem, on the inside of a Mentos candy is a soft and malleable core that can easily adapt and mold in any way. So regardless how hardened we may be of whatever life throws us, in the core of our being, we can adapt well with the changes that may come. It changes us and we become refreshed and come out renewed. Be like a Mentos.
It has been a humbling experience in being able to meet the frontliners in the country’s defense. To be witnesses of what each individual goes through for the service of others. I truly admire their quiet reserve, candid openness, and their ability to rise up against the experiences that some people might see as dark and hopeless. Sometimes it’s not the war that they fear. But how civilians shun away from their presence… from fear perhaps? Stereotypes? May be.
So the next time you see a soldier, take time to say “Hi” to them. Your smile and warm greeting will definitely go a long, long way.
Posted on June 26, 2013, in A Blog A Day/Week, Helping Hands, [Life] Lessons Remembered and tagged a mentos epiphany, Basilan, Butuan, Butuan City, copers, debriefing, postaday, postaday2013, postaweek, postaweek2013, sdc, soldiers are friends, student development center, torya-torya module, volunteer, war wounded. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.