Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ange's Intro

For those of you who don't know me, I'm the "communicator" of this bunch who wants to kick off her writing career in East Asia. (In my view, T is the organizer and Ania is the research queen. All of this really means that I'm the one who does the least work but, since I tend to be the one who tells the stories -i.e. with the big mouth and the quick typing fingers- it seems like I'm an equal team member in it all.)

So the idea for this trip all began with Ania, my classmate, roommate and one of my best friends, over a year ago. We were talking about what we were going to do after 5th year. She mentioned backpacking Asia. In that moment, it seemed like a perfectly logical way to proceed after getting an international development studies (IDS) specialist degree from the University of Toronto (UofT). Any way to hold onto that development bubble and avoid the real world was fine with me! I told T about our plan a day or two later. She was still in Burkina Faso and jumped on the idea as well. And here we are today: Ania and I with tickets booked for Sept 14 to head to the Philippines and T with her ticket for Sept 20 to South Korea.

The trip has evolved for me from a fun backpacking few months with my girlfriends to become the start of a career, a glimpse into my family history and spending time with family and friends in a totally different setting from what we're used to. I'm hoping to become a journalist writing about issues relating to developing countries. Along the trip, I want to visit development projects and talk to locals about what they face every day to get started with writing about the issues affecting people in the Third World.

This trip takes special meaning to me as it will begin in the Philippines, where my father was born and raised. He moved to Winnipeg in 1970 as a preteen after growing up around Manila and Quezon City. I'll be meeting extended family for the first time and getting peeks at where my father grew up. I expect it to be an intense experience; being in a country of people who look like my father and seeing (albeit 40 years later) the kind of places he would have seen should be very affecting.

Finally, there are all kinds of special meetings with family and friends along the way, beyond this. My high school friend Valerie will be backpacking East Asia at around the same time, so we should be meeting up along the way. My friend Caitlin might be able to meet up in Malaysia or Indonesia during her fall reading week. Brandon is a current IDS student doing his placement in Chiang Mai, so we are planning on dropping in to visit him in October. Josh, another current student on placement, is in Ha Noi, Vietnam, where I'll be spending my 23rd birthday in November. Every two years, UofT holds a convocation in East Asia. This year, there will be a convocation at the end of November in Hong Kong -perfect timing. So T and I will be convocating in Hong Kong, our friend Trish may join us, and my cousin, Shawna, will be there from Vancouver to visit for 10 days! One of my favourite people in the universe, Mary, will be working in western China near Tibet and Ania and I will be spending Christmas with her.

But the #1 VIP of the trip, of course, is Mama Cruz who will be joining me and Ania in Cambodia to bike across the country for two weeks in January. She's been training all summer, biking to work, and will be in killer shape to tackle the roads of Cambodia. She kicked ass in Guatemala, so it's going to be an awesome Mama and daughter adventure again in Asia!

Less than 1.5 months until I'll be in the Philippines, beginning my Asian adventure! Until then, I plug away working at the North York Central Social Services office, finishing my last course at UofT and doing the final edits on my thesis.

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