Friday, October 9, 2009

Developments in Development

Though, I have been complaining of boredom today, looking back on my week I realize that I was quite busy and was indeed productive. Last Sunday, I traveled about 5 hours away to help at a friend's English camp with 3 other volunteers. The weather was amazingly cool and fresh feeling and I loved visiting another province, and though it was right next to mine, I still could see and feel differences. My friend has a great, shiny, clean, new feeling house and we enjoyed food from his neighbor's, watching the moon rise from his porch, and cold beers. The next day we donned our bright orange polos (the school provided shirts for us) and headed up the hill to conduct the English camp, "What About You?". The camp was for about 200 high school students, most of whom had surprisingly good attitudes and pretty good English skills. It shows that my friend is really doing a great job there. I led a session with a Thai teacher about daily activities and the students loved our games. This English camp was a definite success and perhaps the smoothest running one I have ever seen! It felt so good to be apart of something successful and gave my morale the boost that it needed. 

We caught the 6 am bus back to Ubon and Heidi and I decided to hang out in Ubon for the day, since her bus didn't leave until 2. We walked around, looked at clothes and jewelry we couldn't afford, chilled in a coffee shop and ate a lot of snacks. By the time I got home I was exhausted. 

Pi Jam (a teacher and friend) had asked me to come to her school on Wednesday to lead a session, just for fun, as the students are in the last week of school before break. I planned some games and brought supplies thinking the students would want to be silly and just have some fun, not really learn English. When I arrived at the school I was surprised to find out that the hospital was conducting a project design training with the students and adults from two particular villages. It was just the sort of work that I hope for in my community and here it was happening all on it's own. I was thrilled. 

I sat back with Pi Jam, my counterpart from the office and a woman from the district office. Since Pi Jam speaks English I took this time to have an impromptu meeting to discuss all my project ideas with my counterpart and the district officer. They listened and were quite supportive. This bodes well for the next couple of months. We were also able to set a date for a large youth camp and for implementing bio-gas at the school. Exciting stuff!!! No really, I am not being sarcastic, community development is hard and thrilling work all at the same time. Perhaps I have found my calling!

After lunch I led my session and luckily the adults were willing to be just silly as the children had been. It lasted for about an hour and I ran the whole thing, in THAI!! It was a great feeling. 
After that I sat in with some of the groups and helped them develop their project ideas, all based about health in the villages. 

Thursday and Friday were spent in the office and I was able to get some work and research done. I also had enough time to surf the internet until I was unbearably bored. This afternoon at two 0'clock my counterpart asked me to join her as she had paperwork to give to the headmen of all 20 of our villages. I jumped at the chance to get out of the office and we headed out. During the next 3 hours I saw a lot. I even saw some parts of our Tambon (district) that I had never seen before. I danced with some Thai people who were partying for no apparent reason, donating small change to a wat, saw the biggest spider I have ever seen, harvested rice for five minutes on the side of the road, tried some homemade Thai snacks, learned some new Lao, and got invited to a cockfight! It was a fun afternoon and a great change of pace from the previous day. 

Also, last night I attended my first Thai funeral. The woman that represents my villages at the sub-district level died suddenly of heart failure. Thai funerals last for 3 days in which the family of the deceased is never left alone, day or night. This entails a lot of eating and drinking as well. The third and final night the largest number of people visit the home along with monks who are there to chant in a service of sorts. The apparel is black on the bottom, with white on top. My family and I went for the third night and though I did not fully understand I chanted and prayed along with the rest of the mourners. Come to think of it, no one really seemed to be mourning. It is the Buddhist nature to accept death as it comes. After the funeral my parents and I enjoyed Korean style barbeque with the former head of my office (who now works with another volunteer in another Tambon) and her husband who is the head of the next Tambon over. Though the dinner lasted for 3 hours, we all had a great time and some great conversation. It was nice to be out with my host parents since they usually prefer to stay at home. 

Now we have come to another quiet Friday night in the village. I am counting down the days until next Friday when I leave for my beach vacation. Hopefully next week will surprise me as this one did. 

Tomorrow morning I am headed out with friends from work to watch the boat races in Ubon. Expect a full report. 

Good night, 

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Secrets Revealed...

Ok, are you ready??? I have found a cure-all, any sickness, hangover, homesickness, feelings of melancholy, anything, I swear!! Here is the recipe:

1. Stevie Nicks
2. a long shower
3. pink pjs that your mom sends from home
4. blueberry tea
5. clean sheets
6. a couple of episodes of Seinfeld

try it, I feel GREAT!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Blogging is difficult. It is hard to think of my experiences with the freshness of a traveler because nothing seems to surprise me now. I guess that's because I really live here now. Yes, I left America eight months ago. It's hard to believe but when I think about home and what I was doing this time last year I can really see some of the changes in myself. Though life abroad and life in the Peace Corps is hard, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything in the world. 
Believe me, I don't feel like this everyday. The days when I am sick, when I can't find the Thai to get my point across, when the office tells me they have no budget for my projects, when I have to ride my bike in the rain, or when all I can smell is pig shit and burning trash are HARD. But there are plenty of good moments that make up for those, and for all those HARD moments, they build character right??
I am so lucky to have been placed in Thailand. I am lucky for the wonderful people in my community. I am lucky some of those people are motivated to do projects with me. I am lucky that my some of my fellow volunteers have become my best friends and my family. I am lucky that I have family (2 Thai families and 1 american family that is coming to visit in December). 

Here's what's been going on lately:
1. I study Thai twice a week with Pi Mod, an awesome teacher and friend. And I can read on like a 2nd grade level!
2. I took two women living with AIDS to a Peace Corps sponsored conference on business skills in Bangkok for a week. We will now have weekly meetings to strengthen the group in our community and hopefully begin an income generation project. 
3. I laughed as hard and as much as I ever have last weekend in Bangkok. 
4. I went to Outback Steakhouse for the second time in my life and had the time of my life!
5. I have watched 3 seasons of LOST in one month (that show is addicting!!)
6 I have read over 3,000 pages. 
7. I have spent way too much time on the internet. 
8. I have project ideas flowing, just not funds. 
9. I am counting down to a beach vacation in three weeks!!!

Though I am not homesick, not that I would admit it if I was, I do miss hearing from friends and family. Emails are wonderful and if you have the time real mail or packages would be wonderful x10!! My mailing address is posted at the side of this blog. 

Peace to all,