Where do I start?!? Hi family and friends, long time no blog! A lot has happened since I last posted so you’re in for a long one 🙂
So since I last wrote I have grown up in the Peace Corps world from a PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) to a full fledged PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) being officially sworn in on March 19th! Of course a whole lot happened before that and a whole lot after so let’s get to it…
The last weeks of training were pretty sabai sabai (Thai for relaxed). We were done with language training and technical training so we had a lot of big group talks on policies, meetings with the director, and site placements! It mostly meant I got lots of time to hangout with my friends before we were flung to the far reaches of Thailand.
As many of you already know I found out that my site placement is in Chumphon province, which is the beginning of the southern part of Thailand. It is full of palm oil trees, fruit farms, rubber trees, and beaches! It is absolutely beautiful and I can’t believe I lucked out with this placement. It hasn’t really set in yet that this is my life and where I will be living for two years.
But before I left for my new site I had to say goodbye to Suphanburi Province and my first Thai family. This proved a lot harder than I imagined. My last week was filled with conflicting emotion. On one hand I was ready for PST to be over and on the other I dreaded saying goodbye to my family and friends and that nice routine I had finally found.
We had a goodbye party with all of the volunteers in my dtambon (village) and their families. In true Thai fashion it included a lot of food, some traditional Thai dancing, and karaoke! I will say that my friends and I did do a stirring rendition of the YMCA for our families.
Then the next morning I packed my things into the truck and my family took me to the hotel where I would stay for the next few days. I was keeping it together pretty well until it came time to actually say goodbye…and then I lost it. Most of you know I’m not a big crier so it was just as surprising to me as I sobbed into my Meh’s shoulder.
You know that statistic that 93% of communication is nonverbal? Well I now believe that because in just eight weeks of understanding only 30% of what was said or going on 100% of the time I somehow developed a real relationship with these people. More than that I grew to love them. It often makes me wonder if I have missed having connections with people because I’m too busy talking.
The next couple of days were spent meeting our supervisors and people we would be working with at site to make sure we were all on the same page while we still had our ajaans (teachers) to assist with translating. Those days also included running off to the one actual pizza place in the province every chance we could before it was back to the rice routine lol.
Then on March 19th I raised my right hand and swore to uphold the constitution and BAM I’m a real Peace Corps Volunteer. Interestingly we take the same oath as PC volunteers as you do for joining the military. I have now raised my right hand and taken that oath twice almost exactly 10 years apart. It felt different somehow at 30 than it did at 20. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a little choked up as I raised my right hand. Maybe I’m just an emotional wreck lately or maybe it was the fact that at 20 I was running away from everything and at 30 I’m running towards a dream that I first verbalized when I was 5. Either way it was a pretty powerful moment.
And then the conversation with my counterparts went something like this…”why don’t you go and grab your bags and we’ll bring the car around in fifteen minutes.” So I went on a mad dash to say goodbye to my friends. I have made some incredible friendships with people here, but I guess being thrown together in an adventure like this is bound to result in some tight bonds.
I had pictured this moment of having to say goodbye to my friends. I planned on telling them how they felt more like sisters to me than friends, how I couldn’t have gotten through this without them, that they are amazing women and will do great things at their sites. But instead what came out was “well I guess this is it, I’ll see you soon okay, call me”. Truly poetic huh?!? Hopefully they have gotten to know me enough in the last ten weeks to know what I really meant lol.
So just like that I’m in a car with three people I met two days ago on my way to a place that I will call home for the next two years. And frankly I was scared out of my mind.
Let me just say that the Peace Corps is hard, really really hard and I’m only in like week 12 of about 116. Even as someone who has been through Marine Boot camp, I feel pretty comfortable saying that this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Certainly not physically, even though my ass after all this biking might disagree, but mentally and emotionally the Peace Corps takes the cake. In boot camp I at least knew exactly what was expected of me and I always had the support of my fireteam, squad, or platoon. Now in the Peace Corps I am currently in the middle of a village in Thailand alone. I don’t really understand what is going on most of the time, and it is quickly becoming apparent that while I can speak a little Thai, I really don’t know shit lol.
As of right now I’m not totally positive if/how I’m going to make a difference here. I’m trying to jai yen yen (chill out) and remember that the first few months at site are suppose to be about learning about my community and integrating, However, in true Meghan fashion I’m chomping at the bit to make an impact. This is the part that’s really hard…the not knowing. Not knowing what is being said, not knowing what is going on, not knowing what is expected of you, not knowing if you are going to be able to make a difference, not knowing if you can do it, not knowing if you are what your village was hoping for, not knowing how to say the millions of things you want to say, not knowing if you are actually cut out for this, not knowing…
I went off on a bit of a tangent huh? Where was I? Oh yeah I’m in the car on my way to my site. After an eight hour drive we pull up to my new host family’s house. My supervisor unloads my bags, everyone speaks quickly in Thai, and then I’m there sitting on the porch with my new Meh, Paa, and 20 year old sister staring at me. And of course they are welcoming as all Thais seem to be. I know enough Thai now to tell them a few things about myself. My Paa rushes to the store to buy mosquito repellent for his “new” daughter. Meh shows me my room, which I’m pretty sure was hers since she is currently sleeping on the living room floor. These people are kind and wonderful and all I can say is Kop Khun Ka (thank you). I wish I could express how deeply I am in awe of their generosity and willingness to make me one of the family, but for right now Kop Khun Ka will have to do.
Over the last week I have bonded more with my family. I really like them and feel blessed that I managed to get two incredible host families so far. I will be living with this family for the next three months. After that Peace Corps allows us to find a place of our own if we want to. My new home stay does not have WiFi which is why you haven’t been hearing from me as much. The house also does not have a shower so I have been taking bucket baths, which is a fun Peace Corps experience.
I spend my days at the SAO (subprovince administration organization) office, sort of like a city hall. This is technically where I’m stationed out of but will be doing work with the local schools and clinic as well. Right now I’m not doing a whole lot. I go to various meetings and introduce myself in Thai. On the weekends I have been helping with a small camp that has been going on here for the youth. I’m hoping to find a more steady routine of work, but I have to be patient since the schools are currently on “summer” break and my office needs time to figure out exactly how to best utilize me. I really want to be able to talk with the other people in the office, but right now i just dont have the language skills. I’m hoping they understand and don’t just think I am antisocial. If they only knew that in the United States people can’t get me to shut up! So in the meantime I’m spending my days studying Thai at my desk, and hoping I will have a revelation about what exactly I’m suppose to be doing lol.
I’m sure there was much more I wanted to write about, but this post is already ridiculously long so I’ll wrap it up. I know that I’m missing pictures in this post, and I have a bunch to share, but uploading them with my lack of WiFi is difficult so I will when I get a chance. I want to get this blog out there though so everyone knows I’m still alive even if it is without pictures.
I miss everyone very much and I hope everything is good in the US of A. I’ll write again when I get a chance.