[US to the Philippines and Malaysia 2013] Katie Koupal on expectations
“Have fun and expect the unexpected,” were the departing remarks our delegation finished our briefings in DC and headed to Manila. Glancing down at our jam-packed schedule, I left thinking, “no way, we won’t have time for surprises,” but 36 hours later I found myself standing on a stage in Manila sporting disgusting yoga pants, wet hair and an increasingly soaked shirt, to greet our Filipino hosts who welcomed us with beer and impressive renditions of Journey songs.
Since then, not a day has gone by where the unexpected did not happen. From unplanned sightseeing expeditions to Taal, the smallest active volcano in the Philippines, to stepping off the bus to John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” the Philippines has been full of delightful, yet unexpected, surprises.
To say we have been welcomed with open arms is a huge understatement. The Filipinos we have met have been eager to educate us on their systems of government and proudly show off their diverse culture at every available opportunity. With 10 days remaining on this remarkable trip, I’m eternally grateful for what the Filipino people have unintentionally taught this busy American through their laid back attitudes, appreciation of life, and general happy outlook. Sometimes, you just need to have fun and expect the unexpected.
Katie Koupal is the Chief of Staff to the Kansas Senate Vice-President.