When I set out on my Peace Corps journey, I had the expectation that the holidays and special occasions would be the most difficult part of being away from home, friends, and family. But the longer I am here, the more I have come to realize the truth in the saying “Home is where the heart is.” I had my birthday several weeks ago and I didn’t know what to expect for my first birthday here. I’ve had many birthdays overseas in the past, but I thought this one would be different since I wasn’t traveling with classmates or family. But as it turns out, this became the birthday of birthdays. It spanned into almost a 2 week celebration, ok. ok. that part was by accident, but I’ll take it where I can. The Filipino tradition is for the birthday celebrant to purchase lunch or dinner for everybody. But they gave me a bit of a pass on this one. I went to Red Ribbon, our famous and delicious bakery and purchased a birthday cake. Then on the 29th, all of the girls in our home came together and cooked me a delicious lunch and then presented me with handmade cards. Many said things like thank you for your smile and being friendly to me, you are now a part of my life. Not only does that make a birthday, it was a great reminder of why I am here. It’s the little things and what seems like the small impact that makes the biggest difference. It shows what the true meaning of service is. That was by far the best birthday present!
That evening I then proceeded to have dinner with all of my volunteer friends. We went to this snazzy outdoor restaurant with amazing food. I decided I would get a steak, but alas t
hey were out of stock. (More on that later). But the 8 of us had an awesome celebration, and a cake to top it off. It was awesome to have the community of work and volunteers all in the same day making it an awesome birthday!
OK, so let’s go back to the steak. I had a huge hankering for that prime rib for days and was disappointed that it couldn’t be my birthday dinner. So the following weekend, my neighbor and fellow volunteer went to the beach outside of Baguio where we found an awesome restaurant on the beach to sit and chill. Alas, on their menu and in stock was the prime rib I had been hankering for. So I made the executive decision, my birthday celebration was continuing and the day at the beach and prime rib was part of my present…thanks mom and dad
Finally, all but a few of our staff had been away at a conference during my birthday celebration. So, they decided the following Tuesday to throw me a huge birthday lunch. It was full of my favorites, including pancit and another cake. It was awesome to get the chance
to spend with my coworkers as well. These are the moments you see the Peace Corps goal and vision of integrating with your community. It was definitely a birthday to remember