Reflecting on Being 27

Looking back on the past year, when I was 27, it has been a step forward regarding career and relationships. I remember at my high school prom a Jesus-looking young gun raised a toast and said, “ A step not towards love is a step well wasted”. That was too profound for high schoolers – but lets trace my steps when I was 27.

27 started in Bangkok where I celebrated my birthday both with an office cake with my fellow interns in Thailand and at a Bingsu Cafe in Vietnam with Trinh, Phuoc, and Thanh both on the same day. This was the year that I evolved into a being that by the magic of air travel has a social life that spanned countries. I call having things to do in two countries “regional living”. It really surprised me when I would plan evening gatherings while still in one country and enjoy them in another. Especially the time I return to Bangkok from Vietnam and almost immediately went out with Jonas. Even this year ends with me on another plane, celebrating in two cities again Da Nang and Saigon.  I celebrated my 28th birthday with Trinh in Da Nang by going parasailing after the Governing Board Meeting.

Important steps

  1. Completed internship with UNESCO
  2. Brandon visited Thailand
  3. Spent three months looking for work in Bangkok
  4. Got first job in management within an education development center
  5. Moved to Vietnam
  6. Visited family on Cape Cod
  7. Incredible working/learning experience with SEAMEO
  8. Tommy and my uncle visited me in Vietnam
  9. Made friends with Jonas, Joao, Hymn, Pontus, Anna and Mai, and my co-workers at SEAMEO
  10. Traveled to new countries, Sri Lanka, UAE, Myanmar

SEAMEO’s Regional Training Center

This year included wonderful learning with UNESCO, three months of active unemployment, moving to Vietnam, starting a new job. I owe my job in Vietnam to the fact that I decided to go to a conference in Ha Noi in March and push my own agenda on other people. I was living in Bangkok at that time and I followed an invitation from an acquaintance, packed my stuff and went to Ha Noi for eleven long cold dank days. I owe my industry skills set to UNESCO for helping me look the part and talk the talk… can’t say I walk the walk yet though. I owe the smooth transition to Vietnam to Trinh who helped with tons of relocation logistics including letting me stay at her house and lending me rent money, which took four months to repay.

She and I went through a rough adjustment, from two long distance relationships (trans-Pacific to trans-Cambodian) to living in the same city. Both my independence and anxieties didn’t mesh well with our new situation. However, in a healthy change for our relationship, we started to have friends. These friends CPRed a breath of fresh air into the relationship. It was wonderful to get to know Pontus, Thanh, Joao, Anna, and  Mai.

The best part of the year was making new friends in Jonas, Joao, Hymn, Wilson, and more recently Pontus. I was lucky to have a great set of friends in Thailand and I’m confident I will find similarly cool people in Vietnam. The three of the most influential new people of the year were Wes, my manager at UNESCO, Jonas & Joao, Hymn. I’ve written in detail about the positive impact these people had on me in,” Friends in Bangkok



My trip home and to Cape Cod included some of our family’s best times in years. It was wonderful to hear us all grumbling about our constant whatevers. Great to get to know Tabitha better and see the Cabin again. I guess if I had to have a native place, I would pick those woods that captured my imagination as a child and my family’s best memories together.

I guess the worst parts of the year were the pollution, Trump, and my internal stresses. Luckily, I didn’t suffer too much stress. The only low points were disagreements with my loved ones – but that is true for everyone every year everywhere.

Highlights were circumnavigating Sri Lanka, visiting Koh Samed once with the Jonas brothers and once with Trinh. Koh Samed is an idealyic, almost empty, tropical island in Thailand that holds a special place in my heart. Seeing my family and friends in the US was also precious.

2017-2018 in Photos


One thought on “Reflecting on Being 27

  1. Thank you Deren!  Sending my love to you!  Today in the USA it is Feb 14th Valentine’s Day and Grandpa’s birthday.  I am happy you have invited Henry to visit you in Vietnam.  We will work on planning a trip.  For him I think it would be ideal if another friend of yours will also be coming so he can spend time with someone when you are back at work after a week of travel.  Love, Wendy

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