It’s Friday night and, as usual, I’m at home…Working. It’s probably not the most exciting way someone in their 20s would want to spend their weekend– but I enjoy it. Every week, when I sit down to write this column, I get a chance to reflect on my time here in Palau. I usually spend this time scheming and plotting different ways to get my readers to bring me ukaeb, but sometimes I reflect poignantly too. Tonight marks my fourth month of living here, and living in Palau is pretty amazing.
When I told my family and friends in the States that I was moving to Palau, jaws dropped. I can’t tell you how many people grabbed me by shoulders, shook me heartily and cried â€œWHY?!â€Â It was as though I’d told them I was forsaking everything to live in some third-world war-zone.
The general consensus was that I must have lost my mind or met some swarthy young man. Something must’ve happened for me to want to leave my cozy American life to start anew in some tiny, faraway country where I’d be making only a fraction of what I’d made before. Either way, I was a little offended.
No, I had not lost my mind. My mental facilities were (and continue to be) just fine. And no, there was no smooth-talker involved in my decision-making process. Truth be told, I just really like it here– especially in Honto.
I love the food (especially ukaeb from Angaur and Peleliu, in case anyone was wondering) and I love most of the people. I love the culture and the history. I am fascinated with siukang. I’ve been informed that my fascination exists only because I’m a young, unmarried newcomer– which is fine by me. I am simply fascinated by everything that is and everything that could be, if people would be willing to try.
I recently attended the event launch for Palau SBDC’s â€œYESâ€ program, and it filled me with excitement and optimism. I’ve been an outspoken advocate for small business for as long as I can remember. I respect any person who can withstand the hard work that stems from owning your own business and I personally love the autonomy and creativity that come along with it. Seeing people in my own age bracket wanting to pursue similar dreams and willing to work hard for it– that kind of beauty is as breath-taking as my first trip to the Rock Islands!
So here I am, the Native Ex-Pat come home and I love Palau (and ukaeb) the way newly-arrived Palauans seem to love America. The world around me is filled with promise, potential and possibilities. Every day is an adventure and every new person I meet brings me a little closer to understanding my new home. Every morning, when I wake up, I get to look at the ocean. (Granted it’s not the same as waking up in Ngerubesang– but it’s the ocean nonetheless.)
I’ve away from the concrete jungle and I feel like it’s allowed me to finally put my life into perspective. I have finally found a place where I feel like I can make a difference. I feel like, not only can I survive, I can flourish (and eat lots of ukaeb). And most of all, I am tremendously grateful for every beautiful new moment.