New beginnings

Maybe you’ve heard through the grape vine that I have moved. It’s true. I’ve moved back to Suphanburi. Remember where I spent the first 9 weeks of training in Thailand?!  Yeah, that’s where I am!

I’m back with my host family, the Khammoonins!

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I am working at the same Sub-district Office where we had our training.

My primary role is to get the site ready for a 128 volunteer. That volunteer will move here the end of March. What does getting the site ready mean? Basically, I explain to all the places I work (office, schools, and community health center) what my role is as a Youth in Development volunteer. I will spend the next three months identifying potential counterparts and building a youth group for the future volunteer.

Let me tell you, starting over or well, beginning again in a new place is not exactly easiest or fun BUT at the same time it is. Are you still with me? Let me elaborate…

I went through what felt like one of the most painful events in my life last month, saying goodbye to my community in Phatthalung. I knew it would come at some point, I just didn’t realize how quick it would happen. Due to a safety and security incident, I was pulled from my community.

I had two choices, I could go home or move to a new site to finish my two years. I chose the latter, I wasn’t ready to go home. I hadn’t fulfilled my commitment.

Peace Corps then gave me two more choices, I could either go back and say goodbye and pack my things or another volunteer could go pack it up for me and Peace Corps would move it. It took me a few days to decide what to do. I was feeling so upset and angry about having to leave so suddenly. I was overwhelming myself with anticipation about what people in my community might think and say. I didn’t want to face it. But I needed to. I needed to say goodbye to them myself. I needed to thank them for everything they’ve done for me–even though I don’t think I could thank them nearly enough.

So on November 5th, only two days after my community was notified I was leaving, I flew to the south with the Peace Corps safety and security officer and packed up my one bedroom house. With the help of my co-workers, my whole house was packed in less than an hour and a half. After loading all my things into the Peace Corps van, we headed to lunch.

My Nayoke called together my community for a send off lunch. Many of my co-workers and friends were there. Some were not. There were many that I wish were there but for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t possible. I was handed the microphone so I could say thank you. I imagined that when this time came, I would have prepared something really nice to say, but it ended up being short, choppy Thai sentences expressing my thanks for them sharing their lives and community with me. Thanking them for showing me what it’s like to live in Thailand. Thanking them for giving me an experience of a lifetime. It was full of tears. It was joyous. It was overwhelming. It was loving. It was emotional. It was beautiful.

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And while it was so hard to say goodbye, it wasn’t and still isn’t the end of the world. I really think this quote sums it up:New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. Lao Tzu

I’m saying hello to new and different opportunities that maybe I wouldn’t have had the chance to participate in if I were still in Phatthalung. I helped out with a friends Leadership Camp in Khon Kaen, went to Camp GLOW/BROS in Nakhon Nayoke, and co-facilitated a Get to Know Uncle Sam, US Embassy camp for college students in Chiang Mai.  

Leadership Camp

Leadership Camp

Leadership Camp

Leadership Camp

Camp GLOW/BROS

Camp GLOW/BROS

Camp GLOW/BROS

Camp GLOW/BROS

US Embassy Camp

US Embassy Camp

US Embassy Camp

US Embassy Camp

On top of that, I’m now living in Central Thailand which is a new adventure. I’m back living with my family, which feels like real family most days. We disagree, we laugh, we cry, we hug.

 

Culture in central Thailand is different, there are a ton of festivals and temples. The food is different..so different that sometimes my Aunt Meow (who is from the South of Thailand) makes me southern curry! The pace of life here is slower, even the language is spoken slower. I’m living back in the country. The weather is cooler and less humid. The mosquitoes are OUT OF CONTROL when the sun goes down…so I have to hide under my net from about 6:30pm on. I’m getting to know my family better. I’m meeting new people, with fascinating stories.

It’s a little easier to begin this new journey because my language is better than it was 2 years ago, but it’s still challenging. I’m in a very different spot from my fellow 126ers. They’re all winding down, finding ways to say their goodbyes and pass on responsibilities. Meanwhile I’m building new relationships, creating a new schedule, and trying to stay motivated for the next 3 months. Thankfully, motivation comes easiest when I’m working with the youth. It’s then that I remember why I signed up for the Peace Corps in the first place. It’s then that I remember why I chose to stay to finish out the last few months of my service.

My first day here was Loi Krathong. It was a perfect day to start. I spent it at school making wreaths with the children. We made 200 of them to sell at the temple later that evening. The wreaths are made from many different local resources such as bread, banana trees, leaves, flowers, etc.

As we pinned the leaves and flowers together, the children sat quietly whilst the teachers engaged in conversation. Thai children are generally shy when meeting someone new for the first time…but as time went on, the children began to ask more and more questions–Where are you from? What’s Southern Thailand like? Do we have a funny accent? Do you miss home? What’s the weather like there? How many siblings do you have?

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Later that evening, I arrived at the temple with my family and within minutes was whisked away by five children from school. They grabbed me by the arm and brought me around the temple to look at the different booths, stages, food, and finally to pay respects to Buddha. Like I had never been to a temple before, they taught me all the important things about paying respects to Buddha.

Inside the temple, there is a cup full of sticks. The object is to get one of the sticks to fall out of the cup. On that stick there is a number and that number corresponds with a fortune. It took one of the children less than 30 seconds to get one out. Me on the other hand it felt like 30 minutes. At one point almost all the sticks fell out and I had to bring it back in. We all laughed and the children patiently waited until I got one to fall out. They quickly ran to get me my fortune and read it to me. After that we were on our way back out to help sell the wreaths we made earlier that day.

We continued to laugh and chit chat. That’s when I knew I’ll be just fine!

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One big happy family!

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3 Responses to New beginnings

  1. Christine says:

    Your resilience is amazing and you are an amazing person. You got this, even though it’s hard. xox

  2. Charles McGillicuddy says:

    Stay strong! Thank you for all of your efforts. I talked to your Dad last Saturday in Calais. We were both there for Wreaths Across America.

  3. Sarah says:

    I love the wreaths! They are beautiful! I’m glad that you went back to say good-bye. You did a lot of great things there and it was important to say good-bye even if it was quick. I am happy that you are in a safe and loving place with family again. Love you!

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