Gretchen and Jannell

Gretchen and Jannell are two Filipina American students at Western Washington University. Gretchen is pursuing a degree in manufacturing engineering. Jannell is pursuing a degree in special education with a dual endorsement in elementary education.


Where are you from?

My comfort food is bola bola (this is what I called it as a kid, but I think the actual name is bilo bilo). I love the satisfying squishiness of the glutinous rice balls and the flavors of sweet fruits and potatoes stewed together in coconut milk. I have fond memories of rolling the balls with my mom and grandma, trying to make different shapes only for them to come out as round lumps after cooking.

Warmth is a soft embrace around your heart.

Experiencing new stories gets me excited, whether it’s through movies, comics, or video games.

I’ll always remember the thrill of performing tinikling to modern songs at Culture Shock. We all worked so hard over the course of a month, so finally getting to experience it all coming together with the friends I love was very special.

Why did you go to college?

I am a piano trying to be heard.

You’re not obligated to please everyone.


My Comfort food is Sinigang. It’s this citrusy sour soup that is orange and after a rainy day it just fills you up. This is mostly my comfort food because my grandma would always cook this for me after a long day after school or a rainy day or even a sick day. I just remember walking downstairs and smelling and then drinking the sour broth with rice will always hit home for me. 

Warmth is the feeling of radiance even after the sun has fallen. Warmth is coming home after a long day and feeling all cozy. Warmth to me is hanging out with my dog. Warmth to me is laughing in a private room in the middle of a winter night and “studying with your friends”. Warmth is home.

Why did you choose education? 

Something that will always spark joy in me is learning. Teaching or learning always has been my passion. Seeing students light up after they finally figure out their struggle or seeing a child being passionate in what they do will always bring joy to me. Seeing them being passionate and discovering things will always have a place in my heart and knowing I had an impact on them makes it even bigger. 

Filipino Parties absolutely represent Filipino culture. The loudness, the abundance of food but also the idea that family is still around despite doing different activities. The smell of the oily food, the loudness of a tv and the uncles screaming at NBA, the aunts in a corner, the grandparents sleeping and children just running all around in such a small space will represent the culture. Always united per se 

A tree that is continuously growing but also blooming. Confused little thing but it’s okay. 

I’m proud of you. You worked hard and you did well.


Veronica Anne: What did you guys write about? How did you pair those last three questions with your answers?

Jannell: For me, I just chose the one question, “Why did you choose your major?” And I chose education because there’s always some, like, little spark in me—a spark and joy in me from seeing people learn, but also seeing how they succeed. And seeing their little smile after they’ve struggled for so long makes me feel so happy and seeing the idea or feeling the idea that I had an impact on a student’s life also makes me feel somewhat human.

Gretchen: So, I ended up using the “Where are you from?” and “Why did you go to college?” I did not use, “Why did you choose your major?” I didn’t particularly feel like it fit with any of the answers I had written down previously.

So, for, “Where are you from?” I used that for the first two prompts: my comfort food and what “warmth” is to me.

And then the “Why did you go to college?”—I ended up using that with the last two prompts. I think the first four are rooted around particular memories I have which is why I chose to pair them with “Where are you from?” whereas the last two prompts . . . the way I answered both of those last two prompts are kind of, I guess, rooted in uncertainty.

And I think, like, going to college—I always knew I would be on the track to college, I guess. But for a while, I was kind of not really passionate about what I wanted to do in college, and so matching those up together just seemed right.

Veronica Anne: Thank you, guys. What was your experience like doing this writing exercise, getting these prompts, answering them? Was there anything that stood out to you or surprised you?

Gretchen: Personally, I had a hard time answering a lot of them. I felt stuck on quite a few, particularly the ones about myself, just because, I think, in my everyday life it’s easy to think about the things I like and the things I don’t like. But whenever I’m asked to really think about myself, it’s like, [laughs] “Who am I?” 

But ultimately, I really liked the writing activity. The last question of arranging the prompts with the other questions, was this really cool, “Aha!” moment. And I enjoy that.

Jannell: Like Gretchen said, it’s easy to say things that you like but when you’re actually talking about yourself, it was very hard, because in general, I don’t like talking about myself. So, it’s just very hard to—also creating a metaphor too! [Laughs] I really went, “Brain empty!” My head really went, “Brain empty: What is a metaphor?” So, obviously, you know, metaphors are hard for somebody who—[laughs] I actually forgot what a metaphor was for the fattest moment. And I’m like, “Oh yeah! That’s a metaphor.”

But it’s just mostly the idea of, you know, talking about yourself was really hard for me. But I liked how you chose those prompts and how you made those connections with those last three. I really like that a lot.

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