I signed up for the Civic Engagement Program (CEP) without a clear idea of what it was. I had a casual understanding of what Teach for the Philippines’ goals and activities were from skimming through the website, but I don’t think I would have been able to describe back then the kind of work I do as an intern. Like many college kids, I suppose I just wanted to find something meaningful to do this summer and CEP seemed like a great opportunity to do volunteer work and learn about organizational development at the same time.
I’ve been working at Teach for two months now and I think I can say that I had a rather misguided view of how an NGO functioned. I was so enthralled by the idea of young and empowered individuals choosing to focus their careers on public school education that I forgot an organization could not just run on idealism and goodwill. Coming into the office allowed me to see and be a part of all the work that was done behind the curtains. In my short stay, I was able to aid in research projects, attend business meetings and conferences, and train myself in the art of writing business proposals and financial reports.
One of the projects I was assigned required me to interview the staff across all levels, which I found really interesting because it allowed me to observe how people with very different skillsets could join together to achieve the same goal. What I loved about working at Teach was the constant encouragement to be an active member of the team. Of course that also meant having to deal with reports and deadlines every now and then, but it was nice to be welcomed into such a dynamic work environment.
I’m not going to pretend that every delegated task was exciting or that adrenaline was rushing through me every second of the way–I did have my slow days. But like everyone else on board I’d slowly come to believe in the mission and vision. The work isn’t there to distract me from boredom, it’s there because it has to be done. I do not have a perfect understanding of the education sector in our country, but I have learned a lot since May–and for that I am grateful.