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!

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