A lot has changed in the past three weeks. I swore-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and am no longer a Peace Corps Trainee. Some Returned Peace Corps Volunteers say Pre-Service Training is the hardest part of your 27 months. It was a challenge, indeed, however, I have nothing to compare it to. Although PST was tough, learning a completely foreign language for 4 hours in the morning and then having teacher training in the 95 degree heat all afternoon, it prepared me to be a successful volunteer at my site (I can speak Thai at the intermediate level and have the foundations to be an effective English Teacher). I am now ready for the “toughest job you’ll ever love”.
Leaving Sing Buri wasn’t easy. I said goodbye to my Thai family, whom I hold dearly in my heart. They introduced me to Thailand first-hand and accepted me as one of their own. I am indebted to them for their welcoming hearts and patience with me, a foreigner in their household. I also said goodbye to my Peace Corps family. We all formed an instant bond when we delved into this new chapter of our lives. That bond only got stronger throughout PST. We spent nearly every wakening hour together, biking during sunrise and sunset. Going from seeing my closet friends everyday to instantly not seeing them has been a challenge. Two families made in two months.
The mountains were calling, as they always are. I moved from the flatlands of Central Thailand to the mountains of Northern Thailand. I’m in a village of 1,400 people in the middle of a national park in Phetchabun province. We are 35km away from the nearest post-office, coffee shop, and, more importantly, 7/11 (where you can satisfy all your snack needs and buy your basic necessities in Thailand). My new host family, Weera (father), Tuk (mother) , and Bat (son), have also accepted me into their home, and I am excited to say that I will be living with them for the next two years (I call my host parents older brother and sister because they are too young to be my parents)! Weera’s parents live a stone throw away and run one of the only stores in the village— I consider their store the unofficial center of the community. We eat all our meals there, and I enjoy hanging out at the store, talking with different people who stop by.
The first two weeks at my site have been filled with unexpected adventures:
Day 1— Crashing my school’s graduation, though, it was also a welcoming ceremony for me where I gave an impromptu speech and community members wrapped white string around my wrist to bring my soul into the community; and that evening, I also gave an impromptu speech and danced at the community health center where there was a going-away party for the doctor.
Day 2— Waking up at 3:30am to go on a school field trip to Thailand’s first capital, Sukhothai, a few provinces west of us.
Day 3— Prepping for a wedding by grinding coconuts (and getting injured in the process) and peeling ginger. It seemed like the whole community was involved in the preparation.
Day 4— Getting woken up at 4:45am from the wedding’s Thai dubstep and subsequently arriving fashionably late at 8:15am, with a beer in hand by 8:16am (not pictured).
Day 5— Assuming I was going to just an end-of-the-year celebratory dinner with all the teachers, but it’s another welcoming ceremony for you. The mayor of our town and other government officials were there. Like my family in Sing Buri, my community has embraced me as one of their own. I have never felt so welcomed before coming to Thailand. And, of course, I gave another impromptu speech.
Day 5-8— “Working”. For a week after students get out for summer break the teachers wrap-up the school year. This consisted of paperwork, cooking and eating (for an extended amount of time), and then singing karaoke in the afternoon, expect there was no paperwork for me.
Day 9-14— Being sabai sabai (relaxed) and going on beautiful bpai tiaos (fun trips) around Phetchabun with my family and coworkers.
I am looking forward to what these next two years have in-store me. Thanks for following!