Wow. I can't believe this is my last week at site. Sunday I head to Manila to end my PC service. It's been an amazing two years filled with so many new experiences and friends and I'm sure it will take awhile to process. I have been thinking a lot lately about what it might be like for me when I get back to the States and I keep thinking of a story that an already returned PCV (we call them RPCVs) told us via video clip during our end of service conference. It goes something like this..
This volunteer had just arrived in the States and was standing inline at the airport. She was eating a pack of gummy bears and couldn't help but notice the sweet American kid standing in front of her and eyeing her candy snack. Without a second thought she offered the boy a gummy bear and he promptly put it in his mouth to enjoy............. ok so at this point you might know where this story is going. But for the record I would like to explain that this is a perfectly acceptable social interaction in the Philippines (and I would bet most of Asia). Here everyone looks after children. It is not unusual for perfect strangers to give candy to, help onto a jeepney or even hold a child. After over two years of living here, we have become so accustomed to these types of social interactions that we may forget that things are different in the States.
So back to the story (though I am sure you probably already know what comes next). The mother of the child started yelling at this volunteer and made her kid spit out the candy immediately. The volunteer tried to explain to the woman that she just came from the Philippines where this was ok and she didn't mean any harm to the woman's kid. Of course this woman wouldn't listen to anything the volunteer was saying and kept yelling at her about not giving candy to her child.
What I am trying to say here is this, it might take awhile for me to get used to American culture again. At first I was a little nervous about it, but more and more I am beginning to accept the idea that I might just be different for awhile. I am sure there will be some American culture and social graces that I quickly slip back into, but there might also be things that take me awhile to readjust to.
So fare warning to anyone that I might/will interact with when I get back stateside - I will probably be weird for awhile. Just bare with me!
For now I am just trying to get all of my things packed up or given away, and spending time with my friends and coworkers here. I am also looking forward to and preparing for my last trip before I return home. I will be travelling the next month around Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for a bit. I am really excited to see some more of Asia before I leave. Big shout out to Linds, my travelling companion - we are going to have an epic time!
Halong! (Take care)