One of the things I am thankful for in my training is that it gave me the opportunity to work with undergraduates. It was the closest thing to my work back in the Philippines. My undergrads here taught me, among other things, that gratitude is indeed universal.
I went to work today and found no more undergrads waiting for the lab to be opened (summer is over and the fall semester started). It felt quite lonely (not that I’m not used to it since my close friends moved out, but, oh well, that’s life! Gotta learn to dance with it!). So I entered the office, dropped my bag on its usual place on my desk, and was suddenly surprised to find a gift on my table from my student! I never realized how much I missed that feeling of surprise. In DMMME, we would almost always have a little surprise on our desk every month. A thank you note, a random memo pad, a chocolate from someone who attended a conference abroad, a slice of cake, etc. And then this morning, I saw this! Oh, my heart was rejoicing! For a moment, it felt like home. :’)
Thank you also to whoever watered my plant, Trisha. I was expecting her to be all dried up after one week without water (our entire group was away for a conference). But to my pleasant surprise (again) this morning, she was very much alive (with moist soil)!
I know I’ve changed from who I was before I left the Philippines last year. I don’t know yet if it’s good or bad. I can feel that more changes are on the way. I hear so many voices in my head nowadays, especially at work, so much so that my time alone in the lab this morning was just priceless. I was there on my bench, working, while everything was silent. Then in the afternoon I played Mozart on speaker and those beautiful notes filled my area in the lab. It was beautiful. Very peaceful.
My work in the Philippines may be full of challenges, but those challenges I’m willing to struggle for because we somehow struggle together in DMMME. Our department is not perfect, but we’re family and I will be forever grateful to be a part of that family. Some may find it hard to understand why I still choose to stay in my country. I just can’t bear to leave it. At least at the moment, I can’t. Our ancestors died fighting for our land’s freedom, what right have I to flee it for good?