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Update from the Philippines

Editor’s Note:  Here is an update on a story published last month (http://news.keuka.edu/featured-story/student-devasted-by-news-of-typhoon-asks-for-prayers) on Vanessa Coy, a senior from Wellsville and native of the Philippines. Some members of Coy’s family “lost everything” as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.

Vanessa Coy

When last we talked with Vanessa Coy, she had not spoken with her relatives in the Philippines.

Since then, she has.

“My mom and I were just talking on Skype with my aunt and uncle in Manila and everything is alright so far,” she said. “They received the money we sent them and they started building a new home. They are still relying on food boxes provided by the U.S. Only a select few can receive them; it is on a first-come, first-served kind of thing. The food boxes [contain] 10 pounds of rice, canned peas and carrots, and canned tuna [as well as] paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, a can opener, and three water bottles.”

Her aunt and uncle reported that looting remains a problem in Manila.

“My aunt told me that she had to build a gate around their property because people were trying to steal their supplies and food,” explained Coy.

Coy said “there is still a lot to be done around Manila because there is a lot of cleaning up to do…  garbage, sewer, and debris.”

Added Coy: “I want to thank everyone who has been praying for the Philippines and those who have took the time to donate.”

The Center for Spiritual Life is leading a Keuka College drive to raise funds for the Philippines through ShelterBox USA (http://shelterboxusa.org). ShelterBox is an international organization that “responds instantly after natural and other disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who need it most. Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.”

A complete box costs $1,000 “but we will donate whatever funds we raise,” said Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain.

Donations (cash or check) may be dropped off in the Center for Spiritual Life (Dahlstrom  13). Checks should be made payable  to “Keuka College” (indicate Shelter Box – Philippines in the memo line).

Partnering for a Good Read

"Butch" and Will Staub review the story Staub wrote about Butch.

“Butch,” a fifth-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School, didn’t like reading.

But thanks to a three-week partner project where Keuka College students met one-on-one with schoolchildren to craft a personal story from the child’s perspective, it wasn’t long before he changed his mind. So says Butch’s new buddy and personal “author,” Keuka freshman Will Staub.

“Butch told me the first day he didn’t like reading, then the next week he showed me this book he’d read,” Staub described. In truth, it was more like Butch raced to Staub’s side, book in hand, thrusting it into view and leaning forward in eager anticipation for the response.

Amanda Markessinis reads "Riley" the story she wrote for her.

Watching the interaction – and others like it across 17 such pairs of college and elementary students – were Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka, and fifth-grade teacher Terry Test, herself a 1973 Keuka graduate. The two teamed together, with support from elementary principal Edward Foote, to enable the collegiate “authors” to craft a three-page story from the perspective of each child selected from the joint classroom Test shares with team teacher Rebecca Morse.

The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?,” was the final assignment for Joiner’s Literature in the Wider World course, a new introductory English course in Keuka’s general education curriculum. The course was designed to highlight the focus the English program is placing on literature as the doorway to culture, society, community and more.  Over the course of three weeks, each college student spent time getting to know his or her child, and ultimately, learning more about Penn Yan through the child’s eyes or imagination.

The fifth-graders all chose character names for themselves and wore name tags to each session, where partners paired up, using whatever chairs, tables, floor space, gym mats, or window ledges were available to continue their conversations.

“Look at the dynamics of this,” Test said, gesturing around the room at the pairs. “The ‘I’m too cool to do this’ vibe just shattered in the first second, and my students are real, being true to themselves. The energy is here on all sides. I’m so impressed at Dr. Joiner’s scaffolding of this.”

To say the children were thrilled would be an understatement. Some brought sketches, notebooks, origami, and more to share with their college author during the second and third sessions. A handful of boys could be seen half out of their seats, leaning forward to dialogue with their authors, while other children were seated more casually, body positions mimicking the college students taking detailed notes.

Tissania Cohall works with "Maddie."

Watching from a few steps away each week, Test and Joiner were almost as excited as their students at the energy generated during the interactions, and the impact it had on student learning.  By the end of the first week’s session, when alerting everyone in the room that only two minutes were left on the clock, Joiner said she could tell the project was en route to success.

“Every student – big and little – turned around and went ‘awww’ in disappointment,” Joiner said. “Some of my students who are not as vocal in class totally engaged with the children. It was just a cool thing.”

Test said the impact on her fifth-graders was almost immediate. (more…)

Student Devastated by News of Typhoon; Asks for Prayers

Vanessa Coy was “devastated” when she learned about the powerful typhoon that struck her native Philippines last week.

Her first concern was for her relatives—aunts, uncles, and others—who lived in towns and cities that felt the brutal force of Typhoon Haiyan, which brought sustained 147 mile-per-hour winds, 45-foot waves, and more than 15 inches of rain to some areas.

“Everyone is OK,” said Coy, a senior adolescent education major from Wellsville who came to the United States at a young age.

Coy was born in Olangapo City, a city located in the province of Zambales, northwest of the Philippine capital of Manila.

“My relatives in Zambales were not hit, but my family in Manila was,” said Coy. “I recently found out they lost their beach homes, farm animals, everything. They are relying on U.S. troops to supply first aid, food, and water.”

That information came from a cousin in Japan, according to Coy.

“We have not been able to get through [to our relatives],” said Coy, who last visited the Philippines in 2012. “We have sent money, but don’t know if they received it.”

Officials estimate that at least 4,200 people were killed and three million displaced. Nearly 500,000 homes were damaged.

The Center for Spiritual Life is leading a Keuka College drive to raise funds for the Philippines through ShelterBox USA (http://shelterboxusa.org). ShelterBox is an international organization that “responds instantly after natural and other disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who need it most. Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.”

A complete box costs $1,000 “but we will donate whatever funds we raise,” said Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain.

Donations (cash or check) may be dropped off in the Center for Spiritual Life (Dahlstrom  13). Checks should be made payable  to “Keuka College” (indicate Shelter Box – Philippines in the memo line).

“In the past, our community has come together to support those around the world who have been devastated through natural disasters,” said Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain. “We responded when the earthquake crippled Haiti and the tsunami hit Japan. Today, we have the opportunity to come alongside the people of the Philippines, who were hit so hard by Typhoon Haiyan.”

Coy is appreciative of the College’s ShelterBox initiative and said there is one other thing people can do to help.

“The Filipino people have a very religious background,” she explained, ”and they need every prayer they can get because it is going to take years to rebuild the country.”