The room I’m sitting in doesn’t have a door. My belongings are lovingly scattered among my suitcases with a select few outfits occupying the eight hangars I was given. My bed, while comfortable and wonderful, is a mattress on the floor covered by a pink mosquito net. My shower more closely resembles a tub of water than what I’d traditionally think of as a shower, and the toilet requires me to transport toilet paper between the bathroom and the self-created trash can in my room. It’s all different. Literally all of it. The language, the people, the weather, the rhythm of life. It’s different and it’s challenging, but it’s mostly amazing.
Before today, we spent ten days living out of the Golden Dragon Resort and Hotel in Sing Buri. Before today, we were spoiled absolutely rotten; we had snacks, and coffee, and hot water, and showers, and catered meals. Before today, I didn’t truly understand what was coming. Then we moved in with our host families. We met them yesterday afternoon at the hotel and after a preliminary hello and introduction by our Ajaan’s (language teachers), we were off. Our new families helped us gather up our luggage and bikes and off we went. To our new homes. To our new normal – whatever that may mean now.
I’ll be honest – it was super awkward. I’m fairly confident I called my host grandma something inappropriate, and I may have also called my mother a dog…but it’s also been incredible. 68 wonderful Thai families have opened up their homes to these strange American foreigners for 10 weeks. For an extended period of time, they’ve chosen to allow Peace Corps, with all of their rules and requirements, to search and prep their homes in order to have us come in with all of our bumbling American awkwardness and invade their lives. Yet, every single Thai person I’ve met up to this point has been kind, warm, and so incredibly hospitable. These kind families are willingly feeding us and loving us as one of their own. It’s all a little overwhelming.
Tomorrow, in America, a really big important thing is happening and I can’t stop thinking about it. About the ideas of democracy and freedom. I’m feeling a lot of feelings, and I’m doing it without my people – that’s been the hardest part of this move. Being here, when so much is going on there. Yet…this experience, these new friends, and the spirit and mission of the Peace Corps has consistently been reminding me about why I’m here. It’s reminding me that these 68 incredible individuals that I get to serve alongside are a better depiction of the heart of America than any one man or any one office. That we get to stand for and paint a picture of America for everyone we come in contact with gives me so much hope. There is too much to celebrate, too much to learn, and too much Thai to practice to have any time for negativity.