Grad Students: We Have Feelings Too

[Week 24] Back to the beginning.
[Week 24] Back to the beginning.

Since I’ve taken the week off from university to come to the Philippines to present at the 7th APCRSHR, my grandparents made the specific request for me to visit them— and so I did. My Angkong and Ama (Chinese for ‘grandfather’ and ‘grandmother’) took care of me when I was very young and so my first memories are of them and of the house they built in Cebu. Apparently my first language was Chinese, and they frequently remind me that I was awarded the ‘Best in Mandarin’ ribbon in primary school, but the years in English-speaking Australia and subsequently in Tagalog-speaking Manila took their toll and now I’m afraid I’ve let it slip.

If you can imagine taking two long-haul economy class flights from Rome via an overnight stopover in Dubai  then getting another overnight stopover in Manila then flying to Cebu on ever-delayed Philippine Airlines, you can imagine how utterly drained I was at this point. It didn’t help that during the flights I was catching up on readings for the many, many classes I have this term.

Nevertheless, seeing my grandparents again was worth it. It hurts me to see that they’re growing older and that I didn’t keep up my Mandarin skills enough to have real conversations with my grandfather, who doesn’t speak much English. My grandmother, who was an English teacher, does and we spent the two days that I had there talking about Italy and why-are-you-not-married-yet and giving her great grandchildren. This is a very Asian thing, this marriage-and-children discussion, particularly when you reach the late-20’s stage as I am in!

What broke my heart though was when I had to leave after just two nights with them, and I saw my grandfather peeking from the edge of the driveway until our car disappeared into the street.

At that point I wished above all else to be able to turn back time, to be three years old again, and to run into his arms and be their little granddaughter who they taught how to walk and how to use chopsticks and how to always look for the ocean. But there is no such option.


  • Hello! I’m a college student from the Philippines and I have opted to have a study about Europeaid specifically in Education & I’d be needing to conduct an interview to Filipino EM students/alumni. It would be a big help if you’d be willing to allow me Interview you even via email of wherever you would let me to. I’m hoping and praying for a response from you soon. Thank you and God bless!

    • Hello! Of course I would be willing to help. Email would be best, or Skype, your choice. I’ll send you a note with my contact details.

      • Wow thank you so much!! This has really made my day thank you =) By the way, I only signed up here on wordpress to reach you so I’m not really familiar with this and on where to see the notes. Maybe you can send me your contact details through email? If that’s okay. I don’t really mean to bother you sorry! Here’s my eadd

        Thank you!

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