Students in the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School are traveling to Virginia Beach’s sister city, Olongapo, Philippines. There, they will stay with host families and experience their culture and customs.Two Tallwood students, Taylor Jacobson and Haley Carter, are documenting their time on this trip. Read about their travel so far below.
We have now been in airports and on planes for what feels like the past two days! Losing a day by traveling west around the globe has made us very discombobulated. We landed in Japan around midnight on Friday. After exiting the plane we went through customs, then returned back to the same plane, same seat, same view.
Our last flight put us into Manila around 3 a.m. We were warmly welcomed with a huge sign, it was amazing, and have never felt so special. Although our plane had landed, we were not done traveling yet. We boarded a bus for Olongapo, which smelled very strongly of cherry air freshener. The three-hour ride felt like an eternity after all the travel we had been through over the past 30 hours.
Finally, we arrived at the Venezia Hotel in Olongapo. Again, we were welcomed very warmly. We settled in and ate breakfast as it was seven in the morning by now. The breakfast was amazing, as was the service. We had garlic rice, eggs and a variety of meats. We then found ourselves wandering around the city. We walked toward the beach to see Subic Bay and the local mall that was not open yet. Yes, we were typical American tourists and made stops at Starbucks and 7-11. The walk wore us out, so we ventured our way back to the hotel. After two days of seeing nothing but airports, planes, and buses…we finally saw the backs of our eye lids.
We slept for several hours, then woke up to fancy ourselves up for a dinner with Mayor Paulino. We packed all of our things and boarded the cherry scented bus again. Once again, we were warmly welcomed with an even larger sign…and this time many cameras, smiles, and hugs. We found ourselves hugging random strangers, it was a very lovely feeling.
We walked in to the reception room following Jong Cortez, our host, and were welcomed with handmade necklaces and were then seated at the front of the room in our reserved seats. As the dinner program and dinner proceeded we realized that we had never been surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces, but felt so welcome. The dinner was different, nothing we were used to, but we certainly enjoyed it. Introductions of host families and delegates were made, pictures were taken…lots of them, and many thanks were given.
At the end of the evening, we were released to our host families. We are so very excited for these next eight days.