Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Benjamin Smith

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Our last day in Ubujan was a mixed bag of emotions, to say the least. There is undoubtedly a level of fatigue that has caught up with the team, personally I’ve been fighting a cold for the last three days, Jimit is showing signs of sickness, and Sarah is concerned she might be joining crew of coughing, achy bodies. I think we are all ready to get back home, but we are really going to miss these friendly, loving people.  

In the morning, we had a long meeting with the local water council; we asked a lot of questions and gave some advice for ways they can improve their drinking water before our project is completed. They listened diligently and assuaged any doubts we might have had regarding their commitment. After the meeting, we came home to finalize the presentation we would be showing to both the water council and the local government (called the Barangay, which frankly is a way cooler name and should be adopted in the US).

When we arrived back at the Barangay hall, everyone was eagerly awaiting us. We wound up spending around an hour and a half covering the water sources we tested and recommendations for methods to improve the water quality, and being a college student who barely makes it through a fifty minute class; I can say they were quite an audience. Attentive the whole time, taking notes, asking questions, doing everything we wanted to see and more. We concluded by signing the partnership agreement with the Barangay and the water council, but that was by no means the end of the meeting.

At least a half dozen of the local committee members stood up one by one to express their sincere gratitude, followed by thunderous applause from the packed room. We then shared some noodles and bread (a surprisingly good combination) and “soft drinks” as the locals call them, and we got to make our friends feel like celebrities by having them sign a team shirt we brought along. One unexpected but exciting surprise was the dancing and karaoke session that broke out after the snacks had been enjoyed. I’m usually not one for dancing, but they dragged me to the floor and had a great time – by the end my jaw was sore from smiling and laughing so hard.

Needless to say, the whole trip is something I will never forget, but today’s afternoon was definitely a standout. After working with EWB throughout my whole college career and hearing the stories about how grateful and wonderful the communities are, I had some high expectations about visiting Ubujan. Part of me thought there was no way any group of people could live up to the standard in my mind, but they proved me wrong. I was just about in tears when they began thanking us for everything we had done, and for those who know me that’s a pretty rare thing.

So from a fulfilled, humbled, and eternally grateful EWB’er, I say to the people of Ubujan: salamat, salamat, a thousand times salamat (salamat means thank you, but I wish I knew more Visayas so I could properly express how I feel).