the no-weekend weekend

Oh yeah, there are a couple of things to do…merely a few days left before I head off to Cambodia and VietNam. When people hear that I will travel, they always have this “Buti ka pa” (Oh, lucky you) expression. And I always reply “You. just. have. no. idea”

Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my job. I love it, especially the travelling that comes along with it. It’s just that when you travel for official matters, majorly, it’s not a bed of roses just what everybody think it is. Especially with what I do.

When a boss tells me that I will join a travel abroad, usually, it’s for a workshop. And being a Project Assistant, I get the nickname “mother goose of the event.” It means I have to take care of everything–booking the plane tickets, securing visas for the attendees, contacting the invitees, drafting the invitation letter….wait can I just attach my resume?

Kidding aside, travelling for official matters means that you don’t get the leisure that you want or everybody may expect it to be. I am the first one to get up, and the last one to hit the sack. If I get lucky enough, I get to have a meeting with the boss to ensure the next day’s event would go smoothly. And on the event itself, you make sure everybody is there, everybody gets refunded for their taxis or meals or plane tickets. I remember booking my Filipino, Cambodian and Vietnames participants in separate hotels (we booked too late and was not able to billet them in one lodging), I have to coordinate with the front desk of the hotel to get my Cambodian and Filipino participants taxis for airport and conference venue drop off.  And not everyone speaks English fluently, it has to be a mix of verbal and non-verbal communication, which works best (I remember a co-worker and I used to literally act out in front of  a hotel receptionist in Ho Chi Minh to book us in a separate room) sometimes. This time, it has to be over the phone, so I have to grab a Vietnamese participant and have him talk to the taxi driver and hotel front desk officer. While the bus is moving. And I don’t have to look panicky (when in fact, I’m a bit hypocondriac 😀 blame the 33% Judging personality blood in me).

During the workshop, you make sure you gave your participants the best venue, food, and services that they will get. It may sound stressful, but the satisfaction of getting a sincere “thank you” from the participants is just so priceless. Being on board in an international organization for just a few years, there’s still a lot to learn. And so far, the lessons are hard-hitting enough not be valued or leave a dent in my head. Being the perfectionist and cautious that I am, I learned to let go, embrace mistakes, and ensure it won’t happen the second time around. I learned to lessen my hypocondriac persona as life is a series of mistakes that turns into lessons, that turns into wisdom.

One of the best thing about this job is that after the event, yeah, you get to breathe and relax. You can throw the event away from your mind (else you need to work on the proceedings, but that’s another story). While the participants (that was ensured to have the best food, venue, and services) are pressured to write a paper or trip report about the workshop. I remember in one of my trips in Hanoi, I was able to rest for one day and walk around the water puppet theater in Hanoi. But most days, I don’t have the time (I still haven’t gone to Ho Chi Minh monument when I got there in 2008). But I just leave it as an indicator that I have to return. And the second time would always be a more relaxed one.

And yeah, the second best thing is meeting new people. Immersing into new culture. Something that you get to bring back to your home and makes you appreciate life more. Some little stories to tell kids and peers. Some little stories to put into this blog. Some experiences to thank God for.

So rather than looking forward to the new place (which is secondary), I look forward more to the new lessons I will learn (that will enable my cousin to exclaim “Lo and behold!” again) that will turn into wisdom.

So…back with the Cambodia and VietNam thing again. I have four days to complete everything. And on top of this, I have a Philippine meeting (National Level) to oversee. I missed the pressure, and so God gave me this. There is just no second best to this.


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