November 8, 2012
Just one week and one day ago I celebrated my 25th birthday – a quarter of a century! All Peace Corps volunteers were mandated to be in San Jose for an All Volunteer Conference so I was luckily enough to celebrate with 140+ members of my Peace Corps family. This is a photo taken from our AVC last year, 2011.
The day started out with texts flooding in from family and friends – so they were a nice alarm clock! In typical “Kelsey fashion” I knew I needed a spectacular birthday dress to wear for the day. Luckily, I was planning to dress up as a fairy later that evening for some Halloween fun, so I had pulled a flow-y, beige colored dress and packed it in my bag.
My friend Austen, a new member of the Tico 24 PC family, greeted me with a birthday song and a delicious cake/white mousse/Oreo-topped birthday breakfast. (Didn’t you all know that on one’s birthday there are no calories consumed?) Before AVC I was selected as a PCV presenter. As everyone in Peace Corps knows, I spend a lot of my down time baking and cooking in my kitchen, so it seemed only natural that I share about my culinary quests. At 8am I gave a presentation to my fellow PCVs about “Baking With Few Materials.” As I was giving my introduction, my friends in the audience broke out over my talk with the “happy birthday” song. Soon the entire room was singing; it was so nice!
The day continued as usual: workshops, information sessions, and during our TEFL breakout meeting my TEFLero family sang “happy birthday” to me once again. My program manager, Kevin, even wrote “Happy Birthday Kelsey” on the main slide of his PowerPoint presentation. It’s fair to say that the entire day was bursting with love! In the afternoon we volunteered enjoyed a Peace Corps Talent Show. I was either brave enough or stupid enough (depends on how you look at it) to sing a three-part harmony of Shenadoah with my two friends Megon and Angela. Needless to say, they have voices like angels so singing with them (as I told my other friend Kristi) was “like singing with God and Celine Dion.” Despite our nerves and shaky voices, we received a standing ovation!
After the afternoon sessions I went out to dinner with two of my best PC friends, Angela and Julia, and also three girlfriends from San Jose: Vanessa, Monica, and Erin. We went to my favorite restaurant and I got a bacon cheeseburger that I have been craving for weeks! It was DELICIOUS! Vanessa and the girls were nice enough to give me a Costa Rican cookbook, which will follow me back to the US and through life. It’s funny because I had been worrying how I could gather all the recipes I wanted. I should have known my girls would have my back!
That evening all programs, Teaching English as a Foreign Language; Youth Development; Rural Community Development; and Community Economic Development, went back to their respective hostels and geared up for some Halloween fun. Here are some pictures of the costumes. Some of our CED boys dressed up like Chippendale dancers and when they remembered it was my birthday they threw me in the middle of a circle and started to dance around me. I have never been surrounded by so many sweaty bodies, it was like being in a football locker room — and I can honestly say I never want to again! (But it was kind of funny.)
We danced the night away and eventually I ditched my fairy wings, wand, and antennas. It was a lovely 24 hours and I felt the love in Costa Rica and also from home. Many friends sent good vibes through Facebook, both my parents called me, and my grandma sent an e-card. Thank you to everyone that made my day so memorable!