Maybe we chatted during a mixer at staging and never had another full conversation. Perhaps you and I forged a great working relationship over flip chart paper and shared pools of sweat. Or maybe you’re one of the people whose presence soothed my anxieties; creating the feeling of closeness more similar to that of an old friend than someone I’ve only known for 2.5 months. Whether we are close or not, this letter is for you– my fellow Peace Corps Volunteer.
PST was a roller coaster of emotions, wasn’t it? Remember how good it felt to take that PC oath, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other and realizing a dream had come true? I’m writing this now because I think PST, in many ways, was the easy part. We had our choice of air conditioned coffee shops, the most amazing Ajaan’s and staff supporting us, and most importantly, we had each other. Today, as we separate from one another and make our way to the various sites around Thailand, I want to take a deep breath and thank you. I want to give you a reminder of the mountains you’ve already overcome so you can reference it when a truly horrible day inevitably comes.
January 5, 2017 simultaneously seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago. If I could go back and tell that version of me what was to come, I would say nothing. Mostly because there aren’t words able to adequately capture the experience of PST. But I don’t have to tell you that, because you know it already. What we have lived over the last 11 weeks is the sort of shared experience we’ll remember with mixed emotions, acutely aware that only our group will ever really understand it.
There were a few weeks when practicum made quitting seem like a good idea. There were late nights and tears, but you persevered because nothing worthwhile has ever been easy. The days spent listening to countless hours of presentations while sweating from every place imaginable has prepared us for the reality that this is a job and we have to be present, even when we are hot and exhausted.
Our host families made us gin kaao way too much and poked our bellies and spoke loudly at us in Thai while we stared back like deer in headlights. More than anything, they showed us unconditional love. They showed us communication is more than words. They taught us to laugh at ourselves and to stop trying to plan everything. They taught us to jai yen yen, and that’s been such a gift.
You, my friend, are capable. You’re here because you’re passionate. You love people. You want to be a mentor for children. You offer so much to this world, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. The work we do is more about being present than perfect. It’s about being open to learning new things. We’re in the business of building relationships and in the process we get the chance to engage in the kind of cross cultural immersion many people only dream of.
I’m grateful for you, friend. Whether we are close or not, I have learned something from each one of my fellow trainees. I’m inspired by the dreams you have and the way you’ve launched head first into this adventure. Up to this point we have shared all of our milestones; from here, it’s all different. What an honor it is to have a front row seat to the lessons you’ll learn and the skills you’ll share. I believe that each one of us is capable of thriving over the next two years and I’m humbled by the knowledge that I get to share this journey with you all.
Chok dee 129’s. You got this.
All my love,