A Year in Review – 25th Birthday

Today is my 25th birthday.. that’s a quarter of my life completed. A quarter of my life filled with memories, both joyous and painful, laughter, tears and love. A time in my life where I learned to get up from stumbles, let go of resentments, forgive those who hurt me and forgive myself for hurting others. It’s a time in my life where I’ve had to learn to revel in the ambiguity of the unknown. Today is also the day that I am traveling to the Netherlands to celebrate my mothers’ upcoming marriage to someone who makes her so very happy and see my uncles, both of whom I haven’t seen in seven years. This birthday,  while I may not look any different, is a time of reflection.

I had a stranger come up to me the other day at WAWA because she wanted to buy me a 16 oz. cup of coffee. Why? Because that day was “buy a stranger coffee day” according to her daughters’ calendar. That day stuck with me. What does it mean to be “happy?” What does it mean to show “kindness?” Instead of writing a long post, I’d rather share special memories of people whom have shown me kindness and happiness both abroad and at home in the past year.

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My sister, Laura, and her husband, Marcus, both of whom have taken me into their home in my moment of homelessness. You don’t know how much that means.
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My boyfriend, Eddie, has opened me up to the world of sports with the Flyers and Sixers. You’ve been patient with me and shown me love. It’s been the consistency I’ve need.
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My sister-in-law, Emily, whom has watched out for me since my return  by showing me around to people in the office and getting me into the door of Peace Corps Headquarters. You have no idea how grateful I am for that.

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Thanks Brittany and Bryan for always being there. Delaware wouldn’t be the same without you.
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Celine – the person that kept me sane in Ethiopia in my first year. All the movie nights, popcorn, and talks.. I can never forget the friendship you showed me.
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My wandering mother who visited me in Ethiopia and learned to face the struggles I did with grace and humility.
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My site-mate, Ashley, whom was responsible for many movie nights and hanging out.
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Katie – you turned out to be a great person and I loved the days hanging out with you, both at the Simien Mountains and afterwards.
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Firework and Zewditu – my friends that not only tolerated my silliness, but found it endearing.
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My host family – thanks for a great 3 months!
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Solomon, Aso and Ken – you made me whole.
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Semira – my amazing, smart and lovely student that helped me with translation when my wallet was stolen. She dropped everything she was doing without having to ask her twice to go to the police station with me.
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Maria Jose! La mas linda persona de Chile.. como te quiero verte y “hang out”!
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My fellow PCVs and friends, Chelsey and Ashley – thanks for all the memories! The late night conversations, the Omo Valley, the thrill of trying to sneak one of us into the room, going to the movies and our many other adventures. You kept me grounded.
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Yordan- I miss our weekly Sunday lunches, our adventures, our late night conversations about the meaning of life, love and marriage.
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My little Yordanos.
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Little Jane – thanks for a great summer camp. I loved hanging out with you both in the camp and outside, helping things be easier for you, and laughing/drinking beers at the insanity.

1357836831576439I’m lucky enough to be able to have the means to travel when others can’t. I’m grateful to have been able to receive an education when so many are unable to. I’m thankful to have been able to fulfill my dream of joining the Peace Corps and for having people in my life who understood why I needed to go. I’m lucky to be 25 and healthy, when so many people abroad are dying at such young ages. I’m grateful to have been given the chance of choosing whether to have children or postponing. I’m thankful for the books that are going to help me during my masters. But most importantly, I’m positively grateful to be given the chance to figure shit out. Here’s to the next 25.

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