Oswego Native Returns To Philippines

OSWEGO, NY – After a brief interruption, by typhoon Yolanda, Oswego’s Tammy “Kat” Hadlow has resumed her Peace Corps career.

“I have passed the six-month point of my service, a Peace Corps milestone,” she said. “In November, following super typhoon Yolanda, 39 members of my batch were evacuated to the US as a result of storm damage/effects at our sites.”

The two-year service timeframe is filled with milestones.

The first six months of service is a major adjustment period for volunteers as they move from training sites to their “permanent” site. It can be very stressful in that volunteers are no longer with other volunteers, most begin to learn a new local language, move in with a new host family, and meet counterpart(s) and co-workers. All the while, the volunteers are attempting to integrate into a new community and begin work on project(s) – which are not always clearly defined.

Tammy Hadlow, right, and her counterpart at a project design and management workshop.
Tammy Hadlow, right, and her counterpart at a project design and management workshop.

After the typhoon, she was offered the status of “administrative hold,” which essentially put her service on pause.

“Following the typhoon, in Northern Samar, we had minor wind damage, but the power was out and phone service was mostly non-existent. Peace Corps made the decision to evacuate all of the volunteers on Samar and Leyte islands and some from Panay Island,” she said. “Some areas suffered more extensive damage and a few volunteers were unable to return to their sites after evacuation. Those few – who I tip my hat to – had to start from scratch with a totally new site and all that goes along with it.”

Life in her municipality was back to normal when she returned in January.

“We still have brown-outs but they are usually scheduled and only last a portion of the day. Northern Samar was spared from Yolanda’s wrath,” she said.

In early July 2013, Hadlow began a new chapter in her life as a volunteer working as an environment volunteer with the Peace Corps in the Philippines.

The Oswego High School graduate will live and work for two years with the local people.

Hadlow was able to spend some of the holidays stateside; but on New Year’s Day, she returned to the Philippines to continue her service.

“In early February, my municipality was fortunate enough to host a visit by the Peace Corps Philippines Country Director and the acting Regional Director (from Washington DC). It was nice to provide them with a tour of our place and allow them a look at the partnership between the host country agency and the Peace Corps volunteers,” she said.

Hadlow’s batch recently returned from a two-week long ‘Super In-Service Training.’

It included a week-long language camp where they received formal instruction in their target languages from native speakers.

“The language I am learning is called Waray-Waray,” Hadlow told Oswego County Today.

During the second week, they welcomed their Filipino counterparts to the training for participation in a three-day project design and management workshop.

“We worked through the process of developing a project that could be completed within the duration of our Peace Corps service,” she explained.”It was a great learning opportunity and helped to solidify the working relationship between Peace Corps volunters and our counterparts.”

Not quite an Oswego sunset but almost as beautiful!
Not quite an Oswego sunset but almost as beautiful! (Tammy Hadlow photo)

It is already summertime in the Philippines.

Hadlow’s work in coastal resource management is beginning to get “very busy.”

Soon they will set delineation markers for a new marine protected area and conduct informational meetings regarding the recently completed municipal coastal environmental profile.

“We will also conduct assessments of the various marine environments and work toward establishing an additional MPA,” she said. “Plenty of work to be done!”

“In my spare time, I continue to explore the natural resources in my municipality as well as the province. Every day brings a new experience for me, whether it be a sight, a song, a flavor, a success or a difficulty!” she added. “This truly is the toughest job I’ll ever love.”

About Peace Corps/Philippines:

More than 8,680 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the Philippines since the program was established in 1961. Currently, 223 volunteers serve in the Philippines. Volunteers work in the areas of education, youth development and coastal resource management. Volunteers are trained and work in Tagalog, the national language, and regional dialects, as appropriate.