I recently had my first birthday in the Peace Corps. I should explain that birthdays for Peace Corps Volunteers can bring some anxiety. Many people are away at site, alone, unsure of whether or not anybody will know. One volunteer early in service said if it weren’t for Facebook it would have seemed like any other day. Even though I at least would have Will here I didn’t have very high expectations, given that I’m thousands of miles from home and couldn’t exactly invite all my friends over for an impromptu get-together.
As it turns out, the stars aligned and I had a fantastic birthday and got to celebrate in multiple ways!
As we mentioned in our last post, we happened to have family visiting that week so not only did I get to celebrate with Will, but I got to celebrate with Stephanie and Brent! The day before my birthday, we all went into “town” to my counterpart’s house to teach one of our English classes to little kids. This group is about 15-20 little girls and since my counterpart’s daughter has a birthday at the end of March too, this lesson was going to be more of a birthday party for her. Instead of making an English lesson, we made a “Pin the Tail on the Cat” game and planned to teach “Duck-Duck-Goose.”
When we showed up that night I discovered it was also a birthday party for me! We played our games—which were a HUGE success. We ate cake (“Happy Birthday Miss Amy and Cya!”).
After all of that, the girls lined up to give us presents, they collected a party favor, a box of fried rice and then they went home. I haven’t had such a pile of gifts since I was about six years old! I was so touched by how adorable all of this was. The gifts were things like flip flops, a t-shirt, boxes of cookies, pens, a picture frame with a picture of me drawn by the gift giver, and some jewelry. So cute! This will definitely be one of the sweetest memories I will take home with me from the Peace Corps.
After the girls went home, my counterpart brought out samples of all the best food in town so that Stephanie and Brent could try it. Cya immediately opened all of her presents (and put on anything that could be worn) while we ate.
The next day, at school all the English teachers gave me a huge box. It was a new fan for our room! After school, Will, Stephanie, Brent and I went to Surabaya. I got to have some steak, sing karaoke, and sleep in a nice air conditioned room for my birthday. The next day I ate french toast for breakfast before we took Brent and Stephanie shopping and then sent them to the airport.
Family, friends, local celebrations, Western food, and fancy hotel rooms. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my 33rd birthday!