(And I failed for not taking pictures despite carrying my camera around all weekend…)
For those of you not familiar with State Department life, when you move to a new post, you get assigned a “social sponsor” – basically someone to show you the ropes and help you get settled into your new place.
When we moved here, we were left a bit abandoned… We were assigned to our temporary housing last minute, so our sponsor was not only not familiar with the area, but didn’t have a chance to find out about the place. So we arrived Thursday night, and spent Good Friday starving (since everything here was shut down), and we didn’t even know what was nearby, or even if we hailed a cab, where to tell him to go to. With no phone number to call and ask questions, we finally got a good tour when Sarah took me under her wing that Saturday and showed us around.
So when a week ago we got an email asking if we could be sponsors for a new couple also assigned to the same temp housing location where we were at, we were happy to help! And we hoped we knew exactly how to make them feel welcomed. We hope we did a good job!
We made sure to get them both SIM cards and a load card so they could use their phones as soon as they landed, I got them very basic groceries for the first morning in town, but switched our driver’s schedule around so he would be available to take them grocery shopping the next day (because let’s face it, we all have different preferences when it comes to the products we buy for our home).
I left them with our numbers (something we wish we had from our sponsor!) and little written tips of where to get things and how to get around the compound. We gave them a quick tour of the compound, and most importantly: didn’t hold them up after their shopping trip when they were probably pooped and wanted to rest.
Today, I planned a lunch with a few people here – two couples that also have little girls (including Jessica!), as I can’t give any tips for kids around this area. We also had Jason, one of Karl’s classmates from A-100 who also lives in the compound, and my new BFF here in Manila, Cath, and her husband. I figured it was a good way to meet a few people and not feel so abandoned when you’re brand new in town!
From there, we were off to the Fort to visit the couple I know who lives at the same building they’ll be moving to. After checking out their future digs and their resort-style pool, I think they had a hard time getting back to the temp quarters (which is nice, but not that nice!). I even drove over EDSA for the first time to drop them off home! (And didn’t get lost! WOOT!)
I don’t know if everyone feels that way, but I thought being a sponsor was definitely a win-win situation! We (hopefully!) gave them a warm welcome, and (hopefully!) made new friends along the way! Both of them were super nice, and people we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, since this is such a big post, and they will not be living near us. But Ken and Christine? Definitely the type of people we like to hang out with!
A tiring weekend? Sure! (I’m still exhausted!) But so worth it! I have a feeling we’ll be doing this again…