Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday, Kyle!

Kyle & Kyle
Let’s begin this with a pop quiz: Which of the following is not a typical Samoan name given to a boy? A.) Fale B.) Alofa C.) Fatu D.) Kyle

And since you all answered D.) that leaves me with this story to tell: I arrived in my village to begin my service on December 9, 2009. The very next day, there was a baby boy born in my village, and I found out that same evening that the mother had named him Kyle. I never fully appreciated what that meant at the time, but as the two years progressed, it started to become clearer.

Samoans give from their hearts. Kyle’s mother, naming her son after me, gave a gift from her heart, and a sign of respect towards me, as a new member of their community who had arrived to work within their village. As the two years passed, Kyle was a measure of my time in Samoa, as I was able to watch him grow. To tell myself I was going to live in a Samoan village for two years was an abstract concept. To watch a child grow during that same amount of time, served as something concrete.

And so the time passed…we had pictures together along the way, and I came to know their family better. As my last week in Samoa approached, Kyle’s mom came to me and invited me to join them for Kyle’s 2nd birthday celebration. It was Saturday, December 10th! Considering most Samoans don’t do much for their birthday celebration, I was so happy to see that Kyle’s dad went to town that morning to buy a birthday cake for his son. We also had a big spread of food to enjoy, before getting to dig into the cake! I had made Kyle a birthday card, and was sure to get some pictures of us together, some of which I later printed off and gave to his parents.

Now that I’ve left Samoa, I feel even more honored, to have a small child on the other side of the world, who was named after me. It’s another one of those lasting connections which will remain with me and that country I love so much. Perhaps Kyle will be able to look at those pictures when he’s older, and hear the story about a Peace Corps Volunteer who arrived in his village the day before he was born. And someday when I go back to visit my village, I hope to meet Kyle again, and remember the day his life began.

Kyle getting ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake!

Kyle was warming up to me quite a bit on the day of his birthday, running over to me and wanting to sit near me. Here he even stood still for a picture.

Kyle and his dad.

Kyle and his mom.

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