Saturday, January 12, 2013

One Year Later

It’s been about a year since group 124 landed in Thailand.  Peace Corps Volunteers agree to serve for 27 months, the first 3 are training and the remaining 2 years are the actual service at a placement site. 
Upon arriving in Thailand and beginning training, I was not always happy or at ease, but I was committed to 27 months and I was learning so many new things every day.  The day we were placed with host families in Singburi was stressful, wondering what my family would be like and if I could fit in.  That turned out to be a total delight.  I was immediately accepted into the home and extended family and Kanya and Sutin starting referring to me as their sister and planning my permanent stay in Thailand.  One of the most frustrating things about the language barrier was (and is) my limited conversation with them.  I know Kanya and I would be close friends and I would love to be able to talk with her like that, but we can’t. Although my Thai has improved, it is not to the extent of a close personal relationship.  We do stay in touch the best we can and I hope to visit them in April for a couple of days.

When we were interviewed before swearing in as volunteers, we were asked to seriously consider the 2 year commitment and told it would be appreciated if we did not continue with the process if we felt we were unable to serve for 2 years.  I swore in with no reservations about my 2-year commitment.

Arriving at site was hard, another new host family, no other volunteers, no busy training schedule, another dialect to learn, and not much to do as school was just ending for the year.  Still, I managed to tell myself that it was temporary and when school started it would be easier.  In the meantime, there were several delightful days when there were lots of activities and I was treated to little trips and an amazing welcoming party at school.  All of that boosted my spirits and I remained committed.

Shortly after I moved into my own house I had my first thought of going home when I got some unexpected news.  I was a little relieved that maybe I had a “good” reason to quit, but I was also ambiguous about leaving so early after arriving at site and starting to teach.  Over the last 7 or 8 months, I have decided to leave many times, but never took the steps necessary to go.  I have planned various departure dates, always with good reasons.  I have responded to the slightest possible change here as a good reason to “early terminate” (Peace Corps term for leaving before 27 months).

Yet, here I am with 2 commitments to English camp in January, looking toward our mid-service conference in early April, hopefully followed by a visit from friends and seeing more of Thailand.  My commitment is not as strong as it once was, but I am learning to take it slowly and trust that this next stretch will unfold the way the first year did with the good, the not so good and the unexpected. 

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