Words are a large part of who I am, who we are; the creation and manipulation of them is one critical way we connect and feel understood. To be stripped of them is introducing me to a new realm of vulnerability.
One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. Black, Brown, White, Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Disabled, LGBTQ+, Female, Male, etc, etc, etc. All. Out of many, one.
Happy birthday, America. Do better.
But then…a tiny face with a toothy smile will grin at me. Or my host mom will tell me I’m like the daughter she never had. Or a quiet kid will speak a full sentence to me. Or my awesome counterpart will drive out of his way in the middle of the week so I can play volleyball with adults. Or the student volleyball team will triple check that I’m coming to their practice. Or the neighbor who runs a nearby noodle stand will give me a hug at the market. There are a million and one amazing little moments that continue to outweigh the moments of homesickness, and for that, I’ll continue to be grateful.
There is a saying in English for when things are going well and you are waiting for something bad to happen. We call that: “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Can I confess something really ridiculous? I’ve been hesitant to write about site life and the start of school because I’ve been actively waiting…
Stillness. The air cool and not yet sun baked. Silence. Wind rustling its way through the trees and the birds singing the world awake. Solitude. The yearning for moments alone. Padding out of bed, without the assistance of an alarm clock, to begin the sacred morning coffee ritual. Each morning this week I have found…
You never know what tomorrow may bring, but I do know that I appreciate you all and I am grateful for each day our time overlaps on this Earth. The best is yet to come.
Songkran is a 3 day (sometimes longer depending on the region) festival celebrating the Thai New Year. The word Songkran comes from sanskrit meaning transformation or change. Most farang’s (foreigner in Thai) associate it with a giant water fight – and it is – but it was also so much more than that. It was about tradition, and respect, and renewal to begin a new year.
So each morning, I’m up just after the sun and a full day with lots of hours presents itself to me. I’m learning it’s ok not to fill every moment. I have to consciously tell myself to take a deep breath. To be kind to myself and to be ok with just being.
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.
“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.” -Wendell Berry
Soon we will reach the finish line. Leaving the Peace Corps Trainee title behind and finally swearing-in as Peace Corps Volunteers, and now I know I can do this.
Biking is our primary form of transportation here. After some preliminary bike maintenance headaches, I’ve grown rather fond of my new ride. I often bike with my friend (who is also my neighbor) since we are in the same language class. Last week, we were heading home as usual, setting a good pace and trying…