Success, I am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer. I passed the language proficiency exam with flying colors and gave the once impending speech. I stayed in a hotel for a counterpart conference and said many sad goodbyes to my new family in Ayuthaya (my host mother calls me 3 times a day to talk. I can answer three questions and the rest is history) as well as new friends in the form of fellow volunteers.
I am currently living at my site with my brand new host family in Yasothorn. Amazingly, they are just as nice and giving as the host family in Ayuthaya. Communicating is not easy, they speak a different dialect and my central Thai is not good enough for them or me to understand much at all. I will have to settle for using my hands and playing charades all over again.
Like I mentioned last post, the food is a little different from the food in
Central Thailand and the way of life is quite different as well. Essan people are very easy going; they remind me of the southern part of the . I say this because of the following: “I will take you fishing and then I will teach you how to shoot birds from a motorcycle”, which happens to be a direct quote from one of my co-workers at the school. If that isn’t United States I don’t know what is! Of course I had to let him know that I could not ride or drive a motorcycle in which case he replied, “Can you ride your bike with one hand?” Arkansas
Volunteer life, even though I have experienced very little of it, is quite different from Pre-Service Training. During PST I felt like I was in school again, my whole day was planned, I felt like I was learning a lot and things came fairly easy. Site presents a different dynamic. Thai schools are currently on “bidtum”, which I am fairly sure is the Thai word for “midterm”, same as “ice cream” and “icateam”….(another quick side bar, if one were to pronounce the Thai word “icateam” incorrectly Thai people are quick to point it out to you, what is up with that? I am not 100% positive but I believe that ice cream is an English language original).
Back on track, Thai schools are on midterm. My current primary role as a volunteer is to work with a Thai counterpart in the school in order to enhance his/her English language skills and participatory teaching ability. Because school is closed and I just arrived, I have absolutely nothing to do. There are positives about having nothing to do but there are also negatives. The positives: Sleep, Freedom and Time, The negatives: Sleep, Freedom and Time.
Sleep: You could potentially sleep all day, but sleeping all day does not fly in Thai culture. Thai people are always working and they always find something to do. Sooooo, I wake up and act like I am doing things all day. One may ask what that entails and no I am not going to tell, mostly because it is…nothing.
Freedom: What is freedom? and then this blog post turned into a political campaign. I need your help Kees.
Time: I have all the time in the world to do everything. I don’t have anything to do with all the time I have.
The food is delicious; the people are STILL nice (and curious). The other day I went to the family farm with my new mother here in Yasothorn and she taught me how to get red ant eggs out of the mango tree. It was impressive and I was excited until she stuck her hand in the collection basket and acted like nothing happened. Being the "man" I am, I decided it would be a good idea to share in the culture a bit and give it a go. I stuck my hand in to remove as many red ants as I could and got a little more than I bargained for. Those little buggers were all over me in a matter of seconds and I most likely sounded like a 4 year old girl (no offense Lynlee) and my mom continued to point and hysterically laugh at me....Classic...the end of the story is we ate the ant eggs and sold the rest in the market for 50 baht...I received about 1000 ant bites for the equivalent of 1.35 U.S. Dollars.
Yasothorn is great and I am looking forward to my first experience with the Thai New Year celebration “SongKran” which occurs in April. I have a feeling that my next blog post will come shortly after the celebration as any Thai celebration ranging from weddings to funerals to 2 year funeral memorials, is usually worth writing about.
I also had the opportunity to speak with my brother Pat and sister-in-law Sarah which was great! I know that she probably already is but if she is not, please include her in your prayers as she embarks on yet another journey.
Juug gone krap,