Who would've thought that the political turmoil and violent protests in Egypt would bring people from all over the world together again after 11 years? I received a Facebook message with an article on Egypt attached from a friend I met a decade ago when I was a participant at the CNN International Professional Program. I was the only Filipina in the group that was selected by CNN from dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants from all over the world. I had second thoughts about participating as I was four months pregnant at that time. But I didn't want all my hard work - and the stress of applying - to just go to waste.
Getting there was hard. Physically. Apart from being pregnant, I got snowed in, in Detroit, had no way of informing CNN where I was, got to Atlanta past midnight a day or two after I was supposed to arrive and encountered a woman cab driver who refused to help me with my luggage. But looking back, all these made my CNN experience hard to forget.
But what made it all the more memorable was my batchmates. Sitting in the conference room with participants from Lebanon, Turkey, the Bahamas, Africa, Greece, the US, Brazil, Cuba, Korea and so many other places, I felt like I was part of a mini United Nations. I remember how shocked some of them were when I served green mangoes with tomatoes and onions and shrimp paste at our potluck-lunch. They can't believe we ate raw mangoes. But I was as shocked when the girl from Lebanon shrieked, "Bagoong!" Turned out she lived in the Philippines for 15 years.
So now I'm friends with many of them on FB and I'm hoping that despite the distance and cultural differences, our friendship will remain strong.