How was Bario? How was Bario?
Even now that the project has ended I still find it difficult to gather my thoughts and express them in words because the only way to accurately convey my experience to others is for them to eat chunks of my brain which contain memories of Bario, like R did in Warm Bodies, and experience Bario themselves via my cells.
Bario was amazing (this is an understatement. No adjective can represent the WOOHOO-KABOOM-PLACK-WOOISH-WHEEEEEEAOOOIIIWW-ness of my experience thus far. But for the sake of convenience, amazing it is). Bario was, to me, an unexploited masterpiece. I love Bario for its serenity. I love Bario for its people, their warmth and friendliness towards everyone. Ultimately, I love Bario for teaching me what it’s like to love and be loved in a whole new place.
To be honest, I was slightly apprehensive with the idea of forging new relationships, especially with Tepuq Supang, because of the preconceived notion that I had about her before reaching Bario. Tepuq Supang was the lady I was assigned to, and I was informed that she had a shy demeanour and was not very talkative. On the other hand I can be extremely chatty and I was worried it might put her off.
However, when I met her in the cozy Arur Dalan longhouse for the first time, I knew everything would turn out fine. The first thing I noticed about Tepuq Supang was her face. Her face exuded warmth, and it eased my unnecessary worries immediately. Knowing that she was shy, I did not bombard her with questions, but rather I turned myself into an open book in an attempt to gain her trust. I shared my life stories with her, and I was glad she found them intriguing. At times she would even chuckle at my shenanigans. Eventually, she opened up and we got along very well for the whole duration of the project.
Writing all this down brings me back to one of the Training of Trainers sessions (pre-Bario). We were asked if we were more task-oriented or relationship-oriented. I said I was in the middle. In hindsight, I learned that I am more inclined towards maintaining and building a relationship rather than focusing solely on the task of teaching English and developing Tepuq’s trail. Personally, it was easy for me to say that I prioritize the task. But at that moment, when I stood in front of Tepuq Supang, a living breathing human with stories to share and whom I would get to form a bond with for the next three weeks, I realized that I do value the relationship as much as the task, and that I couldn’t wait to embark on the WHEE journey with her and my batch mates.
“So, how was Bario?”