Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Let yourself feel it"

I wrote the following in my journal after a hard and frustrating morning at the office. I apologize if it sounds whiny, but it definitely describes how I feel on many days and illustrates my feelings pretty well.

I'm trying to "let myself feel it", as a close volunteer friend of mine says. When you are Peace Corps Volunteer you become well acquainted with the always unpredictable emotional roller coaster. There are many highs and lows that can dictate my moods here. I get strength from acknowledging that I successfully lived abroad for over a year, from having long talks with my host Mom in Thai, and patting myself on the back for surviving having only a bicycle for personal transportation. However, there are many times when I don't feel strong at all.
One of the most common sentiments of a Peace Corps Volunteer is the feeling of not having enough to do. We come to live in a new culture and community with energy, ideas and training but often quickly find that these traits are not always appreciated and some in these communities cannot overcome our "foreigness" and see for the resources that we really are. Also there is not much to do after the sun goes down and volunteers are left bored until its an acceptable hour at which to go to bed.
Though the office I have been assigned to work with refuses to see me as a resource and its workers would rather play on the internet than survey the community, which we all serve, with me, I am lucky enough to have found projects, valuable work, and community members to work with. I should be thanking my lucky stars, as not all volunteers are as...well..lucky. BUT, I still experience the same hardships as anyone in the field of development or living in another culture.
Sometimes I also feel like I am missing out on real life. While some of you may thinking, "What?! Living in rural Thailand is as real as it gets!", sometimes it feels like I am in some sort of parallel universe standing still while the rest of the world keeps on turning. Some of this is because Peace Corps is so time-bound. Not a day goes by when I don't think about how long I have been here or how long I have left in my service. It's not that I want to leave; I can't imagine going back to America right now. However, it does seem that I am constantly looking back into the past or ahead into the future and finding it hard to live in the moment.
When I'm not thinking about the 2 year commitment, I'm always thinking about traveling, either for Peace Corps or for pleasure. Again this is a sign that I'm having trouble living in the moment. I'm sure it has a bit to do with my personality and also the Western thought process. Most Thai people seem to have no problem living in the moment and seem to think, in their words, that I have a "hot heart". This means I am too preoccupied with planning, that I am stressed, that I am constantly looking for something to do. I think it really means that I am just a young American looking to make a difference in my life and those lives around me.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am frustrated and trying to work all this out, all while sweating my ass off and riding a damn bicycle everywhere (pardon my language)!

Hope that journal excerpt didn't scare too many of you off. Later this day I hosted the first meeting of the reading club that will meet twice a week. This definitely turned my mood around, so much so that I stopped and visited with those in the community that do appreciate my presence and I was able to live in just the small moment and appreciate their conversations and cool air of the evening breeze.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Amazing Day

- slept in until 9 am!
- taught for 3 hours
- set up and demonstrated tetherball!
- read to students, made plan to start a reading club using the books from America and the foundation in Bangkok
- went to the city to pick up grant funds for the water project
- scheduled installation of water filter
- bought supplies to make s'mores for the students camping trip on friday
- early evening Lao lesson (local dialect)
- new episodes of 30 Rock before bed


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I’m sitting in my room, after just having finished a spicy plate of food with the fan directed straight into my face as I try and cool off. That’s right the hot season has returned. This time last year I was living in Lopburi going through training and hardly had a chance to notice the heat. I’m afraid its going to be a little different this year!

Since my last update I have been busy. I made my monthly visit to Bangkok to attend my first HIV/AIDS gig meeting which was extremely productive. We have lots of ideas to serve our fellow volunteers better and I’m excited to be part of this initiative. I also went to my final VAC meeting. This past year I was part of the Volunteer Action Committee and we are now turning over the duties to a new group of elected peers. While in Bangkok, I enjoyed good food, late nights with friends celebrating birthdays, and lots silliness. We even woke up at 5:30(after only two hours of sleep) to head to a BBQ restaurant to watch the superbowl. It was super fun and the food was super delicious. What a great game!

I ended up staying in Bangkok longer than expected because of doctor’s appointment and then headed straight to my friend Eric’s site to help with his English camp. I love visiting other volunteer’s at their sites and this was no exception. We had a great time singing Thai songs, playing Scrabble and hanging out with the locals. The English camp went really well too.

I returned home, exhausted but happy to be back. This week has mostly been about catching up on email, project work and planning the next few months. All is going well. In fact I will travel to the city tomorrow to pick up the funds that will allow us to install the water filtration system this weekend! Very exciting! We should also hear back soon if we are to receive grant money to finish the recycling bank (hopefully within the next 2 weeks). Will keep you updated!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


After only about 24 hours of being online, my project had been fully funded by the generous folks and Six Senses Spa. I am so thankful and so exciting to begin the actual work on installing these filters. Each day its getting hotter and hotter and this addition of clean water will be most welcome!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yes! I am so excited to announce that I was approved for a grant to get clean drinking water for one of the schools that I work with. The grant was approved by an excellent organization called Water Charity. Here is some background information on their initiative:

As an initiative of Water Charity, we do small but critical water and sanitation projects. Each one is a solution to a problem, costs no more than $500, and uses appropriate technology. We start them at once and complete them very quickly.

HondurasWe partner with Peace Corps Volunteers serving throughout the world, who identify, implement, manage, and evaluate the projects. They work in concert with NGOs and governmental agencies near where they are stationed.

Each project has a high impact, resulting in clean water and effective sanitation for individuals, families, and communities. We are flexible, and can react to emergencies.

Now all I have to do is await funding. To donate to my project please go to this website:


The total amount needed is $500.00

If 50 people donate $10, then the project will be funded.

If 25 people donate $20, then the project will be funded.

It's really that easy!