My Introduction into Collectivist Culture

I hit my first real bump in the road here during my last day in Puerto Galera. I got pretty sick and dehydrated for a couple days, most likely as a result of accidentally drinking contaminated water at some point. Luckily, I brought antibiotics from my travel doctor that I was able to take and recover without seeking medical treatment.

Unfortunately by being sick, this meant that I was not able to attend BREAK 2.0 – Bringing-In Resources for Employees Agenda on Kalusugan – on Tuesday. This is a seminar put on by my department, the Business Development Unit, to teach the other divisions of FNRI/DOST about nutrition and Pinggang Pinoy. In order to prepare for BREAK 2.0, I made the program that was used as well as helped with contacting the presenters. Since there were a wide variety of presenters speaking at BREAK 2.0, I was able to go to almost every division in FNRI and meet the people there. I was excited to hear the presentations, but unfortunately my body wasn’t up to it yet.

When I came back to work the next day, I was surprised by how kind everyone was. I’m pretty sure everyone in my office, as well as the office next to mine, came up to me and asked me if I was feeling better. I hadn’t even met half of these people before and they were caring for me like they had known me for years. This warm spirit carried on into a farewell surprise party that one co-worker threw for some others. In the Philippines, a lot of jobs are based on a contractual basis, meaning that there is a chance you will move jobs a lot. One coworker had only been here for three months and they threw her a party with karaoke, balloons, presents, and a full meal of food for everyone in our division. Before coming here I had never experienced the difference between a collectivist and an individualistic culture. I never thought that they were that different, but living here and being treated as “one of the family” gives me a whole new perspective.

On Friday of this week I participated in a morning Zumba class with some of my coworkers. I will report that I am still extremely uncoordinated and have no rhythm. Some things never change. I went on to work a 15 hour work day (until 11pm) with my entire division after getting sweaty at Zumba – not a great decision. After work we made an assembly line in order to prepare around 600 gift bags that will be given out next week at the FNRI Seminar Series. While we were all working extremely hard to make the bags, one of my coworkers was working even harder to make a meal to feed around 30 individuals. Even though everyone wanted to get done as quickly as possible with their work, they made it a priority to sit down at a long table together and share a meal. Some couples/small families can’t even find the time to sit down and have a meal together, so I really appreciated that 30 people could find the time to all sit down and eat together.

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