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Our fifth week in Thailand was great! We’re already halfway through Pre-service Training! It has gone by ridiculously fast, but at the same time feels like we have been here so much longer than five weeks. This week we had our “mock” LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) to help us gauge how well we are progressing with language. At the end of training we will have our real test, which will consist of listening to and speaking Thai in a conversational format. I feel like I still have so far to go! We also had our “mid-term” evaluation this week to gauge our progress in general and our likelihood of qualifying for service. Zack and I both got really positive reviews, thank goodness! We are both still feeling really committed to being here, even though this morning I did wake up craving a Colorado hike.
Next week we find out where our permanent sites will be! I am SO excited for this next step. This whole experience is going to change a ton after PST is over, and I think that most of the trainees are anticipating the news of where we will be spending the next two years of our lives. This next week’s language training will be mainly devoted to training us how to buy bus tickets for our site visits. We will also be meeting our Thai counterparts very soon! I am really excited about this, but also really nervous.
One major development this week was that I started connecting even more with the children at my practicum school. On Wednesday, my host “cousin” biked to school with me and somehow (I’m not really sure how this happened) I was accompanied by about six more children on my journey back to my house. The next day there were more, and by Friday we had about twelve. They love playing Frisbee with us (but the boys are always more excited to play with Zack) and showing us new games also. Most days, the boys ended up playing sports (Frisbee, badminton, etc.) the majority of the time and the girls ended up talking together and playing games on (believe it or not) someone’s iphone. On Saturday, the children showed up spontaneously in the afternoon, but Zack and I were super busy doing laundry and didn’t have much time to play. Our host sister seemed to really enjoy having so many people over though!
On another note, it was really bittersweet leaving my practicum school on Friday. I felt like I formed a ton of relationships in a just a short amount of time and feel really connected with a lot of the people there. During morning assembly on Friday, the paw-aw (principal) presented me and the other volunteer doing practicum at that school with beautiful (enormous!) fruit baskets full of ripe mangoes, bananas, muffins and candied water chestnuts. They asked me to speak to the students in Thai, and my heart just about leapt out of my chest because I was so nervous. I did it though! And everyone seemed to understand me, which is a good sign.
Today we went to a nearby zoo/aquarium with our host family. It seemed like a really popular tourist destination and we even saw some other PCVs there. On the way, we saw some mountains for the first time! Granted, they looked more like hills in comparison to what we are used to in Colorado…but it was a nice change of scenery nonetheless. Be sure to check out the pictures of the zoo in the album!
One final story this week is just a testament to how great Peace Corps medical response has been during PST. On Wednesday, Zack woke up with a clogged ear. He tried a couple of remedies to fix it himself, but nothing worked. Late that afternoon he called the Peace Corps medical officer, and by that evening, he had been picked up from our house by Peace Corps staff, brought to a doctor to be diagnosed, brought to a clinic to have his ears suctioned out (I’m sure there’s a more technical term J) then brought home, safe and sound and hearing again. We both feel so fortunate that we are being so well-cared for!