After thirty years on this earth I still find myself in awe of the kindness and goodness that exist within the world. Yes I realize that there are bad things that happen in the world everyday, but I still believe that people are innately good. Being a Peace Corps trainee in a foreign land can make you feel extremely vulnerable. Yet being surrounded by fellow trainees, teachers, and a family that continue to show such kindness to a relative stranger really gives you faith in the kindness of strangers.
Yesterday was my 30th birthday and boy did I feel the love! I met my fellow trainees only a month ago, but they treat me like we have been friends forever. Every single one of my friends sang multiple renditions of happy birthday, gifted me with delicious donuts, and hung out in the crazy Thai heat so I wouldn’t have to spend my birthday alone. Simply amazing people! We do not have a lot of money or time here in Thailand and they gave both so willingly to give me a special day and I cannot thank them enough.
My Thai family here never ceases to amaze me. Not only did they agree to take in a farang (foreigner) who spoke pretty much zero Thai in the beginning, but they also go out of their way to make me feel like part of their family. They get so excited for me when I learn how to say something new in Thai, and are crazy patient when I cannot understand what they are saying or what is going on (which is like 98% of the time lol). They have already given me so much; so much more than I have given them, and that was before yesterday. For my birthday they made a feast of all my favorite foods here, none of which included rice lol. I was full and happy and feeling loved…that is when all the lights went out and they brought out a chocolate cake and sang me happy birthday in English. I guess they drove way out of the way to get a cake at a place that could write happy birthday in English for me. I have known these people for a month! I was so touched by their generosity and kindness. It was the prefect way to start my 30s because it gave me a renewed resolve to continually work on being kind to others. As I read through this blog I feel like I cannot adequately capture my family’s goodness in words, it can only be felt. I want to be like them, a person who radiates kindness and unconditional love for others.
So to catch you up on the rest of my week before you get bored of reading, I spent most of this week teaching English in a local school. It was awesome! I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at a very small school in the sub-district where I live with my friend Katherine. The kids were really amazing and they seemed to love having us there for three days. We would teach for an hour in the afternoon and then spend another hour just talking to the kids after. I don’t know how much English they were actually able to retain, but they did love the fact that we were willing to just sit around and talk to them or just be silly with them.
In my experiences with the Fire Dept., hospice, and now the Peace Corps it has become clear to me that the biggest part of social work is just showing up and being truly present in the moment with people. It seems universal that people just want to feel like somebody cares about them. Like I said I don’t think that any of those kids are fluent in English after three days with us, but they made it clear so many times that they thought it was so cool that we came from America just to spend the afternoon with them. And I loved being there for them, so I made sure to make that clear to them too. I wanted these kids is a tiny school in a small part of the world to know that someone cares about what they are doing and what they have to say and I hope they felt that.
Reading over this blog I think it is clear that I am feeling especially mushy today lol. I guess I am just loving where I am and what I am doing, even if it is uncomfortable or confusing at times, or pretty much all the time lol. So here are a few random photos from my week as well. I miss you all!