Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Weekend Away

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We just got back Monday evening from an amazing three-day-weekend trip to Khon Kaen! It’s the first time since arriving in Thailand that we’ve been able to travel for anything other than Official Peace Corps “Business.” It’s so hard to believe (yet extremely believable at the same time) that we’ve actually been here for four months. While in Khon Kaen, we met up with a bunch of other wonderful PC volunteers both from our group (125) and the group who arrived in Thailand last year (124). I can’t even explain what a relief it was to be able to share stories and advice. It gave me hope hearing about some of the struggles that the other volunteers went through this time last year and that they were eventually somehow overcome. I won’t get into major details, but will just make a general statement that living amidst a culture so different from the one I’m used to can be confusing, frustrating, and just overall challenging at times. This journey is bound to have its ups-and-downs, and being around other volunteers who can fully relate to some of the challenges that Zack and I are experiencing was a huge comfort. So with that said, thank you so much fellow volunteers for being the amazing people that you are!

Thanks to Emily, I'm not completely picture-less!
She let me swipe her camera during our trip to the night market!

                 I’m sorry to say that I barely thought about taking pictures while in Khon Kaen, so there isn’t much evidence of our trip. We did, however, get to go dancing, bowling and shopping! Group 124 arranged some really fun activities to help us get-to-know each other. The trip involved great vegetarian food, pizza, beer, and (surprisingly) no karaoke! (In Thailand, karaoke is part of almost every event…) It was good to get away for a little bit and recharge. Next time I’ll try to remember to bring my camera along!

Some evening problem-solving with
"Sam Muskateen (our cool group name)!"

                This was the last week that Zack and I ran the summer English program in our community. I (along with all of the students) start school next week, so we summed it all up with two extended days of “English Camp.” The best part about these two days was that Zack and I enlisted the help of some of the youth in our community’s Youth Council to help facilitate activities. It made the camp seem much more aligned with some of our Peace Corps goals. With every project that we take on while we are in our Thai community, we are encouraged to think about sustainability. I can’t think of anything more sustainable than working with and empowering the youth to be leaders. We are hopeful that more of our future projects will revolve around this theme of sustainability and that we will have the insight to navigate our projects here in a way that will truly benefit our community.

Some of our awesome youth helpers

First Day (Group 1)

Second Day (Group 2)

Just doing our thing...

                The close of this English program feels like the start of a new chapter. I am looking forward to starting school next week and getting into more of a routine. Not that anything in life is predictable, but life definitely seemed to hold more predictability in American than it does here in Thailand. I try to embrace the unpredictability more and more each day. Even though each day brings unique challenges, we find joy in many of the things we are doing here. I’m grateful for our evening bike rides along red dirt roads that allow us to share our thoughts and perspectives. I’m grateful for the sincerity of the people in our community and their friendly calls of greeting even when they are just passing us on their motorcycles. I’m grateful for the moments when we have chosen to just stop everything and watch the sun set at our family’s farm. More than anything though, I am grateful to be sharing this experience and all of its ups and downs with the love of my life.

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