Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Sneak Preview: Inside Our Heads

It is a rather different experience living as a first time, full-time volunteer in a first world country where everyone seems to move so fast, eat fast, talk fast, and walk fast. It has been a welcome adjustment and challenge to survive in a developed country with high standards of living with a minimum allowance. As I wake up everyday greeted by the cool breeze of spring, where buses have a strict schedule and people follow a mental queue of who's first and who's next on the Internet at the local library, I find myself thinking of my impact to this community. Thus, my mission begins.


Living in a developed country like the UK, where you basically have everything, makes you appreciate the things back home that you usually take for granted. It makes you see the beauty of your country. Most importantly, being a GX volunteer enables you to see that even if the UK is on the opposite side of the world, the problems that we face in our own country are somehow similar with what they are experiencing. Seeing and experiencing all these makes you realize that you can actually do something to help address these problems and make a difference.


Being a GXP volunteer has been a tremendous experience so far. It offers an international venue to take an active role in community development through our assigned volunteer placements; to take charge in running and organizing sessions on global issues through various informal learning settings; to live in a new environment with other people different from myself; and aids in personal growth. It has given me the opportunity to try new things, take initiative and a leading role in situations I would not normally find myself in. More than anything, I can notice so far the changes in my persona and I feel privileged and satisfied to be a volunteer of the Global Xchange Programme.

– Philip

Being a GXP volunteer allows me to really interact with a new community in a team so diverse and enthusiastic that every time you talk to them you discover something new. This, along with our team building days, allows me to really interact with others and discover a new culture from the eyes of those living in it. My volunteer placement is challenging, and requires a huge amount of initiative, but pays off huge rewards if I push myself. My beliefs and values are constantly being challenged and adjusted after every GCD!


Team 58 over the Southampton Airwaves

GXP takes yet another move to make its voice heard all over Southampton−literally. Four GX volunteers graced Unity 101’s Community Hour segment last April 10, 2007, 3 to 4pm for a discussion on volunteerism.

Laura Chillag, Philip Commeyne, Cornelius Garrett, and Junica Soriano, along with other guests talked about volunteerism; what it is, how its current state is, what the benefits associated with it are, and what it takes to be a volunteer, among others. Questions and comments coming from the listeners stimulated the discussion.

Unity 101 aims to promote participation of Asian and ethnic minorities in Southampton through Community Hour by keeping people informed of various issues that affect the community.

by Junica Soriano

Southampton Community Welcome

Last March 30 this year, a community welcome was organized by Southampton City Council through its mayor, Councillor John Slade to officially recognize the presence of the Global Xchange Programme (GXP) Team 58 in the city. In his speech, Councillor Slade stressed that the existence of the volunteers in Southampton is very timely considering that the city is becoming more diverse as years goes by and such projects is very essential to further promote unity amidst diversity.

He was then supported by the mayor of Eastleigh, Councillor Peter Wall who expressed his happiness that some institution in Eastleigh were chosen to be placements of the volunteers. According to him, his constituents would be very happy to share to the volunteers the resources that they have that are vital for their community development activities and projects.
Being one of the guests, Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom His Excellency Edgardo Espiritu in his speech thanked the leadership of Southampton and Eastleigh for accepting the programme this year. According to him, the continuing increase of number of Filipinos living in Southampton only proves that the city is one of the best places in the world for the Filipinos to live. He also cited the number of Filipino nurses that is currently working in some hospitals in the city.

Councillor Slade also requested the Ambassador to furnish a copy to his office the addresses of the Filipino volunteers in the Philippines. He said it
would be a good idea if Southampton and Eastleigh could establish a link with this provinces and cities for a collaborative effort of promoting community development and fair trade.

After the programme, the visitors were invited for a lunch prepared by the council. Right after the vast meal, the two mayors split them into two groups for the tour around the civic centre including the mayor’s office and council hall. The volunteers were also given the chance to wear the ceremonial gowns used by the city mayor.

by Jeffrey Engracial
Photo: Filipino Counterparts in Filipiniana. More photos to follow.

In Country Orientation

UK Perspective

I walked onto the bus and sat down beside the first person I saw, which happened to be a very tired Jeffrey. "Ummm, so what’s your name?" was the start the very first stilted conversation I was to have with the Filipino counterparts that evening. It was all a little bizarre and quite artificial in a blind-date-kind-of-way. After settling the Filipinos into their bedrooms things calmed down a little and people slowly got to know each other.

Walking around Streatley

Many things stood out for me at the ICO but perhaps the most influential was the "sharing journeys" workshop. In this we all wrote briefly why we were participating in GXP and with the overlap it showed how much many of us had in common even though we come from opposite sides of the world.

A simulation of Southampton and Eastleigh by Jay and Xenia

On the final night we were placed into our counterpart-pairs, again a very strange situation where people moved all over a makey-uppy map of Southampton in order to find their placements and counterparts. Got paired with Miel and am living in Neville’s house in Cadnam with her which is interesting to say the least…

by Ciara Mc Corley

Filipino Perspective

Half of Team 58 on the way to UK from the Philippines

Manila - Hong Kong - Heathrow. It was a long flight, a first for many of us. With eyes wide opened and jaws dropped low, we continued to take in the beauty and unfamiliarity of the United Kingdom as we headed on to Streatley to meet up with the other half of our team and ultimately, to begin our mission as Global Xchange volunteers.

Our vehicle came to a halt and expectantly awaited our UK counterparts. We then saw a group of smiling, young people, waving at us as we waved back. It was an awkward, exciting, and anxiety filled moment -- to finally see who we've been training to work with for the next 6 months and to meet those who might possibly have the same global and personal perspectives as we do.

The next few days engaged us in a series of intensive training, scratching the tip of what is to be a cultural exchange iceberg. It was humbling to recognize that our differences were all we had in common and that is exactly what we come to celebrate in this exchange. As we Filipinos strive to adjust to the weather and the diet change amongst other things, we accept the warm welcome they have given us and with arms wide open, humbly embrace our new found mates to form one united team. Mabuhay and cheers!

by Chely Vibal