Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update and Review

I am sitting in mu hostel in a rainy and muggy Bangkok, one days after effectively ending my Peace Corps service. And to the answer of  your question, no I don't feel any different. As I have stated before, my service was everything I thought it would be and more, and looking back on it I have very few regrets. I am ready for my next challenge.

My next change, however comes late this evening as I head to the Bangkok airport to fly to Duabi to meet my parents before then traveling to Tanzania to visit Will and the country for about 3 weeks.

Once I get back to America I am sure I will be very tired, confused, happy weird and busy! It should be an interesting couple of months. I have not been home sine January 2009! Upon arrival I will immediately be traveling to visit the graduate programs I have been accepted to, so that I can make a final decision before. If I am coming to a city near you, I will definitely be looking you up!

Stay tuned for Africa entries and photos.

In the meantime, here are some pics of my last few days in Thailand:

Office goodbye party/good luck ceremony

Final project at site: my youth group trains a youth group from another province on how to start a group and create project and such

PCV mentors: Sarah B. (122) and Sarah B. (121)

Dinner with neighbors and family

Lunch with the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand

Out to dinner with Pi Mod and here family

Community goodbye party at school

With my amazing family at my airport send-off

Officially finished with 2 years of Peace Corps in Thailand!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Peace Corps!

That's right, Peace Corps is celebrating it's 50th anniversary today! I feel honored and privileged to be part of the legacy started by JFK on March 1, 1961. Serving in the Peace Corps has been a dream of mine since high school, when I learned of it goals from one of my favorite teachers who had served.

Click here to read President Obama's remarks on the anniversary:

For 50 facts about Peace Corps, check out the following as put together by Yahoo! News:

* Kennedy's idea originated in 1960 when he challenged students at the University of Michigan to engage in a spirit of peaceful volunteerism in foreign countries. He was still a senator at the time and campaigning for president.
* The Peach Corps was designed to help underdeveloped nations succeed in education, business and agriculture in a modern world.
* Kennedy's brother in-law R. Sargent Shriver was the first director.
* In 1961, volunteers arrived in five countries; the first two were Ghana and Tanzania.
* Within the first six years, 55 countries were served with more than 14,500 volunteers.
* Volunteers help communities by teaching children, developing sustainable business practices and teaching health awareness.
* March 2011 will be designated "National Peace Corps Month" in honor of its 50th anniversary.
* Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut is a notable participant in the Peace Corps, serving from 1966-68 in the Dominican Republic.
* Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix, served in Swaziland from 1983-85.
* Chris Matthews of MSNBC also went to Swaziland in 1968.
* Author Paul Theroux was in Malawi from 1963-65.
* The Peace Corps has had 17 directors, usually serving two to four years.
* Carolyn Payton was the first female and African American director of the Peace Corps, serving just over a year starting in 1977.
* Loret Miller Ruppe was the longest-serving director under President Reagan from 1981 until 1989.
* The Crisis Corps consists of volunteers designed to help in times of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
* More than 200,000 Americans have been in the Peace Corps since its inception.
* 139 countries have been served by Peace Corps volunteers.
* The Peace Corps is funded by Congress.
* The only country in the Middle East currently being served is the Kingdom of Jordan with 38 volunteers.
* Peace Corps volunteers currently receive $7,425 after 27 months of service.
* Low-interest or deferred student loans are also a benefit of serving.
* Certain institutes of higher education will also grant college credit for completion of service.
* Volunteers can teach subjects such as English, math and science.
* Community development programs include creating libraries, adult literacy and health education.
* Health volunteers teach communities about safe drinking water and malnutrition.
* Agricultural initiatives include improving crop yields and environmental conservation.
* As many as 40 percent of today's volunteers work with food security issues such as nutrition and agriculture.
* The Peace Corps currently serves 77 countries.
* The average age of volunteers today is 28.
* Minimum requirements to volunteer: 18 and older and American citizenship.
* 37 percent of volunteers engage in educational activities.
* There are currently 8,655 volunteers and trainees in the Peace Corps.
* 90 percent of volunteers have at least an undergraduate degree from college.
* The Peace Corps budget for 2010 was $400 million.
* Many Peace Corps directors, including Aaron Williams who currently heads the organization, started as volunteers.
* The Peace Corps began sending volunteers to China in the 1990s.
* The Philippines boasts the most cumulative volunteers to date at more than 8,500.
* Despite its location as the United States' southern neighbor, Mexico has only been a Peace Corps recipient since 2004 with just 160 volunteers.
* The Peace Corps encourages applicants to apply nine to 12 months in advance of when they will be available.
* Peace Corps volunteers assisted with Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in New Orleans.
* Americorps, the domestic version of the Peace Corps, was started by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
* 37 percent of current volunteers serve in Africa.
* Only 7 percent of current volunteers are in Asia.
* 60 percent of Peace Corps participants are female.
* 93 percent of current Peace Corps members are single.
* More than 130 colleges offer credit for service.
* It takes about nine months from the initial application to commence overseas service.
* Legally married couples may serve together in the Peace Corps.
* Participants earn two vacation days for every month they work.
* The University of Colorado currently has 117 alumni serving overseas, the most of any institution in the United States.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Photo Essay: 2 Years in the Peace Corps

With this blog I have attempted, very feebly at times, to document my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Thailand. Sometimes words could not do the experience justice and at other times I found myself so confused, hot, tired, crazy to even and try and explain what was happening in my life here. As my time winds down, I find myself thinking more and more how quickly the whole thing went by and how in a way my 2 years here seem like a dream. Taking a trip down memory lane lead me to the idea of posting a photo essay to represent the experience. The pictures below represent each month spent here in Thailand. The photographs include not only my work and travels, but milestones and holiday such as birthdays and Christmases. It's wild ride....enjoy. I know I sure did.

January 2009:

This is after my first week in Thailand and shows my first of many visits to a Thai temple for a Buddhist ceremony that I wouldn't necessarily understand, but would most definitely learn something from. 

February 2009:

This photograph was taken at one of the many PC training events we had. In many ways, training was like being at summer camp or a semester abroad. This was during sports day, as I compete to make the best tasting som-tam, a popular Thai dish that was soon to become one of my favorites. 

March 2009:

This was taken at the end of March, only a week before we swore in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. My fellow PCVs and I are experiencing one of our first "village parties". It was the first of many to come. Thai people love to spend time together and are constantly in the pursuit of sanuk, or FUN. 

April 2009:

Here I am posing with some ladies from my village during my first week as a PCV at site. We are dressed in traditional clothes for the Songkran parade that we are about to dance in. This was my biggest lesson in getting out of my comfort zone, going with the flow, and embracing my new life in Thailand. 

May 2009:

During my second month at site, I quickly set to work trying to learn all I could about the community that I was sent to serve. In this photo I am using what basic Thai skills I had to discuss the area of the village with a teacher and the village headman. Girls from the youth group accompanied me to make sure I wouldn't get lost!

June 2009:

June sent all Thailand PCVs to PST 2, or our second round of training. Here I am with all members of my project sector, Community Based Organizational Training or CBOD. 

July 2009:

Feeling reinvigorated by PST 2, but with no "community" projects in sight, I made my way to the community schools. I quickly was seen as a free English teacher. I had no idea I what I was doing and labored through some pretty hard days at the schools, but powered through because of those kids. 

August 2009:

Thanks to a conference thrown by Peace Corps' Community Enterprise Community, I was able to start a project with some high school students and their teacher. The project was making and selling organic fertilizer at the school. Here we are writing the business plan. 

September 2009:

In September I was able to attend another conference, this time with two people from my community living with HIV/AIDS. The conference sparked the small business development project with the local HIV/AIDS group that was to last for the remaining time of my service. 

October 2009:

I guess I needed to let loose. Maybe it was because it was my first vacation with my new best friends or maybe it was because I was so excited to see the beaches of Thailand. Either way, on the first day of my first vacation I ended up in the hospital on the island of Koh Samui with a dislocated patella (knee-cap). Ouch!

November 2009:

Celebrating my first birthday in Thailand which was actually my 23rd. We had the candles backwards. I got to celebrate with many friends and my birthday buddy and fellow Rhodes College alumnus, Beau. 

December 2009:

One of the biggest (literally) projects that I was able to pull off was in December. The girls youth group I helped with held a 2-day leadership camp for 200 of their peers. 8 other volunteers came in to help supervise. Truly an awesome 2 days!

December gets two photos because a lot happened that month. My parents and brother made the journey to Thailand and we embarked to explore all we could, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia. 

January 2010:

In January we had our Mid-Service Conference (MSC). Though we weren't really halfway through, the conference served to discuss what was working at site and what wasn't, but importantly served as an opportunity to goof around with my amazing volunteer friends. Here are a bunch of twenty-something girls inside the fort we built in the hotel room!

February 2010:

Back to the village and back to work. Here I am reading a donated book to a group of rowdy students. This served as the inspiration for the reading club that I continue to run. 

March 2010:

For some reason during February and March I ended up staying at site for a total of 6.5 weeks. At times I felt like I was in prison! Here I am with friend on my first trip out as we tour a Thai movie set!

April 2010:

Celebrating one year as a Peace Corps Volunteer with two amazing friends in Vietnam!

This photo was taken during Songkran, the April water festival or Thai New Year in Chiang Mai. Songkran basically amounted to Peace Corps spring break which included endless water fights and lots of partying. 

May 2010:

Students posing during the opening of our youth led recycling center. One of my proudest moments as a Peace Corps Volunteer!

June 2010:

The utter chaos of a student-led reading camp I helped to organize. 

July 2010:

Peace Corps spring break round 2! 4 days on a island with 25 of my best friends...what happens on the island stays on the island!!!

August 2010:

Not really sure what happened last August, if anything...must have been life as normal in my village....so here's a picture of fruit....

September 2010:

As the months rolled by and my language skills increased I was able to start more projects and help more villagers. Here I am interviewing village health volunteers about the community bathroom we were renovating. As always, my faithful youth group was looking over my shoulder. 

October 2010:

After taking the GRE in Bangkok, I set out to explore Chinatown. Bangkok is a fascinating place and I have developed quite a love/hate relationship with the place. 

November 2010:

During my second Thai birthday and 24th birthday dinner. For this birthday I opted to stay in the village and celebrate with Thai friends and family. 

At the end of November, my host dad (pictured above), passed away. Here is a photo of him giving money for school supplies and uniforms for needy children in the village he grew up in. 

December 2010:

During December, I had the pleasure of attending my friend Pi Jam's graduation. We have worked on countless projects together and she is like a sister to me. During the two years I helped edit her Master's thesis, which she wrote entirely in English. 

The view from breakfast on Christmas morning on Koh Yao Noi. Yes, I am very lucky to have been sent to Thailand!

January 2011:

After two years, part of my daily life is getting to interact with these cuties....they are collecting trash to turn in to the recycling center down the street. 

February 2011:

During my house visits to the participants of the the HIV/AIDS small business development project. This villager is successfully raising crickets that will be sold to generate secondary income. 

March 2011:

It's now the last day of February and though I have some idea of what March will hold, I'm not sure if a photograph will be able to represent it. March marks the end of my time in Thailand and the end of my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Stay tuned to see how it goes!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Notes on Completion

This morning I headed to the hospital for the PHA (Persons Having AIDS) meeting and would ceremoniously mark the completion of the project I had been working with the group.

After the normal tasks of chatting with everyone, sitting with nurse as she passed out medicine, condoms and face masks, I collected the final signatures and receipts needed for my project report. During this time, I couldn't help but notice an ornate bouquet of roses in the corner of the room. And of course as the meeting began to wind down, some the group members began to hang up a banner and set up chairs for picture taking.

Though the formality of this is directly related to Thai culture and hierarchy, I was touched by the actions. Not only did the ceremony represent the completion of our project, but also the completion of my time with the group. The roses were beautiful, as were the bushels of corn, three large watermelons and bag of crickets that I received.

After two years of attending meetings at the hospital, taking 2 group leaders to a Peace Corps Conference in Bangkok, undergoing countless brainstorming sessions, raising 1,555 dollars from friends and family in America, and making numerous house visits I helped 13 families affected by HIV/AIDS to start small businesses to be run out their homes. It was in this project that I truly learned why Peace Corps service needs to last for 2 years. I am immensely proud of this project and how it added to my service here in Thailand. And I am immensely thankful for the link it provided between my friends and family in America and my life here in Thailand. Thanks again for all your help. And finally I am immensely thankful to have worked with this group of people. Though they are affected by HIV/AIDS, and most do not have enough money for electricity and did not have a chance to complete even a middle school education, this group of people have become some of my best friends in Thailand and have taught me a lot about life. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Out on the Town

The past weekend gave PC Thailand volunteers 3 days since Friday was a big Buddhist holiday. This meant an opportunity to travel, hang out with some other Americans, and to eat a lot of "farang" or foreign food. All volunteers in proximity travelled to my favorite Thai town of Ubon Ratchathani. As I only have 3 weeks left as a Peace Corps Volunteer, this was the last chance for a weekend get-together.

I would say it was one of the best get-togethers we have ever had. We spent our time, eating, drinking, bowling, swimming, trading stories and sharing future plans. After returning to my village I feel refreshed for my last few weeks here. However I am feeling a range of other emotions as well.

I think it would be hard for anyone other than a Peace Corps Volunteer to understand what I am feeling, but I will try and explain. Though at times it felt like my two years here would never end, now that its almost over, I feel like its flown by. I can't help but feel like this whole experience was a dream and when I return to America, I will resume my life just as I had left it, no time having past at all. But of course when I think about resuming life in America I am met with some feelings of anxiety as well. I know there will be culture shock, I know that I am changed and grown into a new person, and I know I might have trouble fitting in. I am used to being alone, I am used to the slow pace of village life, and I am used to having 30-plus close friends that understand exactly what I am going through. I am used to picking up and taking off for the weekend to explore. I am used to taking public transportation and riding a bike everywhere. Will I remember how to drive? Will I still have time to read one or two books a week? Will my friends and family think I am weirder than I was before?

My mind is sort of a mess these days as I contemplate saying goodbye to Thailand and saying hello to America. Because of that I am completely thankful for this past weekend and all the good times we had. It reminded me that no matter what happened these two years were some of the best in my life and I am so lucky to have a group of Peace Corps friends that have become like family in my life and in my future life in America.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

My group, 121, scheming on how to beat group 122 in a game of chicken. 

Our whole group with the tuk-tuk driver after all fitting into the same tuk-tuk for the ride back to the hotel!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My People

In this post I want to share images of some the people that have been so important to me during the past two years:

Pi Aew, my community development counterpart from the Sub-District Administration Office of Non Kor

Noochand and Kusol Kongsri, my host parents (Kusol passed away November 24, 2010)

Pi Mod, my language tutor and amazing friend

More Thai family

 (l to r) Pi Mod, her daughter May Mod, me, May May, her mother Pi Jam who is my main counterpart and "sister"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project Update and a Feelings Check

Hi everyone!

Last week kept me busier than I had been in a long time. I was thrown into yet another teaching situation where I had no idea what was going on and was expected to teach an entire school (luckily only 51 students) representing grades 1-5 for 3 days! Of course I didn't really find out any of these details from until the morning of. As I waited to be picked up (we were in fact going to another province) I cursed the skirt I was wearing and contemplating getting a tattoo on my forehead exclaiming, "I am not a teacher!".

I was completely unprepared when I arrived at the school and luckily they had brought in an English teacher from another school to help me. She had a few activities and a good attitude so we dove right in. Difficulties abounded. We were teaching outside with a small whiteboard, one marker and a stack of paper...let's just say I ended up singing and dancing a lot. At lunch I found out that my new teacher friend would not be returning the next day. Instead of having a bad attitude about this I resolved to make the next day the best day of English learning possible for these kids. After all they were well behaved and cute. That night I planned down to the minute about teaching the body, family and of course more songs and dances. The next day, I taught all 51 children for 4 hours completely by myself. At the end of the day, it was clear that the kids couldn't possible learn English all day for a third day in a row and I was relieved of my duties.

Later in the week, the ambulance from the hospital picked me up early to visit the homes of the PHA/HIV group income generation project participants. My office counterpart and the leaders of the group joined me. We inspected each project and took tons of photos. This day was exciting for several reasons. As my last and most ambitious project, I was happy to see that everyone had used their funds appropriately and that the projects were going well. Also most everyone was keeping track of their receipts. It was a Peace Corps volunteer's dream come true! It was also heartening that the participants were willing to have me into their homes. As I have mentioned there is a large stigma associated with those with HIV in Thailand and many of these people keep to themselves. All participants have known me for two years, however, and were more than willing to have me to their homes and to take photos. Some of the living situations were pretty bad. I'm not sure how these people stay dry in the rainy season or keep their electricity going on one wire. I have seen these types of houses before, but this was the first time I actually knew the people living in them. It made me realize that this project really will help improve the livelihood of these folks. Thanks again to everyone at home who donated to the project: know that you have helped make a difference!

To see photos of the project, follow this link:


In other news, my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand is rapidly winding down. I have been excited about my trip to Africa with my parents and brother and returning to America, but now I am starting to get sad about saying goodbye to this place and these people and my fellow volunteers. Next week in Bangkok will be the last time I see most of the other volunteers until we reunite at some point in America. I know that they will be lifelong friends but its still hard to say goodbye. They have been my family, support system, travel buddies, and companions for two years. I have learned so much from each and every one of them and am proud to have served in Thailand with them.

Thinking about saying goodbye to my Thai family and Thai friends is almost too much to think about. In a way its much harder than saying goodbye to friends and family in America because I have no idea if and when I will see these people again. It's going to be very tough. And I am feeling more and more nervous about the transition.

In other news I am still waiting to hear back from grad schools. I'm so anxious to know where I will be spending the next two years and I am greatly looking forward to my next adventure!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not much to write home about....

So my service is winding down. Since I returned from my last vacation on January 3rd I have been in my village and won't leave again until the first of next month. All volunteers from my group are being sent to Bangkok for our last medical check-up. While there I also have my last HIV/AIDS GIG meeting. All of this is bittersweet. I know the 6 days in Bangkok will be filled with many "lasts". It will be the last time that we all gather together, play games in the hotel rooms, and take on the town. I'm not sure Bangkok is ready for it!

The money finally came in for the HIV income generation project. Yesterday I held a meeting with the participants at the hospital. My official "counterpart", who to date has not been involved with my projects, came and actually helped out quite a bit. She explained the regulations of the project, how to track receipts and helped me schedule house visits to check the progress of the projects. It is great to have her involved and helping and I hope that she learning a lot from the experience. As we left the meeting, I asked how she felt and she said she felt really good and was glad that I was there to help her country's people. In my last months of service, there is nothing that I would rather hear. We will go on the visits next Thursday, so I hope I will have lots to report after that.

I have a new group of kids for the reading club. They are all in fourth grade and really smart and cute of course. I have been feeling kind of burnt out on this whole endeavor, but every time I see the students my energy is renewed. Instead of focusing solely on reading I have incorporated more speaking and listening activities for this group.

Things are certainly different at home without my host dad. We laugh about funny things that he used to say and remember him everyday. I am so happy that little Pam, my host sister's 8 month-old daughter is around to bring joy to everyone.

As for me, I am filling my days by visiting the office and schools when I want to, reading, and cleaning out my belongings. Though I sometimes get bored, I know I should appreciate this free time and soak up as much of village life as I can. The weather has been great lately too. Though I must admit I am so excited to spend this spring in VA when I return home in April.

As always thanks for reading, and be on the look out for the HIV project progress!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In-Depth Look at a PC Project

One of my projects was recently featured in the PC Thailand Project Bulletin. If you are interested in learning about what I do here, read on!

After School Reading Club and CampThis is a featured page


This page includes both an after school book club that was started by a volunteer at her local school and a reading camp that came about as a result of the club.

The Reading Club
When this volunteer noticed a lack of English reading books at her local primary school, she began collecting books for the school through family members and the Books For Thailand organization. Once there were a number of books in the school’s library, the volunteer started an after school reading club for 4th and 5th graders.

The kids come during the period after school is over but many students are still lingering around the school. The atmosphere is relaxed and focuses more on reading stories to the students than on teaching English. The volunteer and the students sit comfortably on the floor while the volunteer first reads the story in English, then translates it into Thai. The volunteer then gives the students activities to do in their notebooks concerning the story, such as:
  • Draw your favorite part of this story.
  • Tell about what might happen next in this story.
  • Re-write the story so that it is about Thailand.
    • This is a good activity for stories that are place or culture specific, such as stories about animals (the animals would be different in Thailand).
    • One book was about location; it started with the galaxy and got more and more specific – milky way, earth, continent – until it ended up in the room of the school. The PCV had the students rewrite this book so that it was about their classroom in Thailand.

If the students don’t finish the activity, then they continue with it in the next class. If they finish early, then they can go play or go home. The club meets twice a week and is scheduled for one hour, but generally only lasts twenty-five minutes.

The Reading Camp
When the volunteer’s co-teacher saw the success of the reading club, she came to the volunteer with the idea of doing a reading camp. Together they organized a reading camp where the 4th and 5th grade members of the reading club planned six different stations for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders of the school. The camp took place on two separate afternoons, providing one hour per station.

The stations were organized so that each station had eight students running it (the reading club members had to recruit from the other students in their grade). Each station was focused on one book, and the students were given one month to prepare. During the camp, one student narrated the story while the others acted it out for the younger kids. Once the story was finished, there were related activities or songs at each station.

The reading club started out with twenty students but gradually came down to a steady twelve that attend every week. Because of the small size and comfortable environment, the students have become more confident interacting with the PCV. Even the more shy kids in the group feel comfortable answering questions. The students are also showing more creativity and have stopped copying each other’s work or illustrations from the books. Despite the translations, there has also been some marked improvement in the students’ ability to read and understand English.

The students in the club also made their own book from the “locations” book and activity. The book contained illustrations and one sentence per page, and has been laminated and placed in the school’s library.

The reading camp was generally a success. Many of the stations did not last a full hour, so many younger students were running around for the last portion of each session, but the camp was a great experience for the students running the camp, especially in terms of leadership and mentorship.

Also, many of the books that volunteer collected for the school have disappeared. These books are hopefully only being borrowed, but a system of checking books in and out would probably benefit the school’s library.

This club is focused largely on art, drawing and story telling, but the emphasis could change to focus on English learning, creative thinking, etc. The club could also take on the shape of a mentor program where the older students read to younger students that come, similar to the structure of the camp. The club itself could even be run by mentors from a nearby high school (this PCV is currently considering having a local youth group take over the club so that it continues once she leaves).

The students actually chose to act out the stories as a major part of the camp. There are a number of ways to present the stories, and the children might come up with any number of different ways. For groups that do choose to act out the stories, this exercise might serve as the beginnings of a group for the Thai Youth Theater project.

The PCV brought books to the school but saw that they were not being used very often. At one point the students came to her and asked her to read one of the books to them, so she took this request and started the group to get the students more interested in the books and in reading.

The camp was the idea of the school’s English teacher, once she saw the success of the reading club.

Counterparts / Key Actors
  • English Teacher – at the beginning, the teacher used to come help with translation, but she eventually stopped coming. She also came up with the idea for the camp and help organize and run the camp.

Organizational Support
  • School – supports by giving the time and the space for the club and the camp. Would probably have helped with materials for both, but the volunteer decided to purchase the materials herself.
  • Books for Thailand – donated books for the school.

Approximate Cost
The expenses for the club are the books, which were donated, and notebooks and colored pencils for the students’ activities, which the volunteer decided to purchase herself.

The expenses for the camp depend on the activities, and in this case the school provided these materials.

  • It can be extremely useful to have a Thai tutor run through classroom commands with you, especially if you are not a teacher. If you are translating the books for the students, it is also helpful to go over all of the language needed for the story beforehand.
  • Be prepared for each story to take several days to get through, depending on how many and what kind of activities you have the kids do.
  • Review books after you’ve been through them with the club so that the kids can remember them.
  • Bring treats! The kids love having a snack while they do the activities, but try to be discreet about them so that you don’t have a room full of kids that are only interested in kanome.

2010 to 2011

Here some of the most memorable moments from my past year. They are in no particular order and are not necessarily the best or worst moments, just the most memorable.

1. Saying goodbye to Mom, Dad and Will after their trip to Thailand knowing I would not see them for another year.
2. Celebrating one year in Thailand.
3. Celebrating one year as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
4. Opening of the recycling center in my community.
5. Birth of my host sister's daughter, Pam.
6. Seeing Vietnam with Heather and Kelsi.
7. Spending four days on Koh Samed with tons of other PCVs.
8. Having my hair accidentally dyed blue.
9. Pulling off 5 English camps in 5 weeks with Pi Jam.
10. Taking the GRE, twice.
11. Raising $1555.00 for my HIV/AIDS project.
12. Celebrating my 24th birthday with friends in the village.
13. Applying to grad school.
14. COS conference in Cha-am.
15. Thanksgiving dinner at the American Embassy in Bangkok.
16. The passing of my host father and the 5 day funeral.
17. Attending the wedding of a fellow PCV.
18. Seeing Pi Jam graduate with a Master's Degree in English
19. Christmas morning on Koh Yao Noi at our beach cabin and Good View Restaurant.

Things I look forward to in 2011:
1. Finishing the HIV project.
2. Last week in Bangkok with Group 121 in February.
3. Being accepted to grad school (already accepted to Monterey, still waiting on the other 7 schools).
4. Spending time with my host family.
5. Isaan weekends.
6. Last bus ride to Bangkok.
7. Finishing my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
8. Meeting Mom and Dad in the Dubai International Airport.
9. Traveling around Tanzania with Will and parents.
10. Pulling into Rio Vista at 1 pm on April 4th!
11. Sleeping in my old room/bed.
12. Seeing friends and family.
13. Figuring out what to do with the next two years.