Monday, July 30, 2012

Rambling Thought Processes = Me

"Take me home country road, to the place where I belong West Virginia Mountain Mom-A take me home, country road", was blaring in the speakers of the 1997 Toyota Tacoma and I had just gotten back from Mr. and Mrs. Becton's wedding in the United States.  It made me think of just where exactly my "home" was.  I had returned from enjoying time with family and friends and nieces and nephews and now here I was back in Thailand where everything felt just as comfortable as when I left six days before, a weird contrast.  Then for the next week I wasn't sure whether I should believe that my life was the one I left behind in Arkansas a year and a half ago or the life I currently live here in Thailand because both of them seemed like a dream.  Then I came to the conclusion that there is no "real life", it is just "my life" and throughout "my life" I will develop and grow and experience new things whether those things are positive or negative.

I often think of Donnie Ray Crawford III when I think about my development and also many many others.  Donnie Ray affected who I was when I was just a child and continues to have an affect on who I am becoming as my thoughts are constantly surrounding the fact that he won't be here on Earth anymore (a big reason I stopped writing on the blogster).

All things aside I wanted to start up on the ol' blog again.  Honestly I just didn't know where to start.  I was so convinced that there were so many things in the world that were of more importance than sitting down typing on a computer about useless information so I stopped writing.  But then I realized how much I have learned and continue to learn from the stories of others and the goodness of other people (Donnie included) and reasoned to myself that my thoughts are useless to me because they are my own, I can think of them anytime I'd like, but maybe to another, someone I care about, someone I don't even know, my child that is not even born (mom sorry I haven't told you about that), or even myself somewhere down the road, my words and stories will be of some importance or use.

Soooo, whether you like it or not....this is a new start and a fresh beginning to my time in Thailand.  Still have 8 months of my time to give and at least 8 new blogs.  I know already, you are excited, but not everyone has to leave  comments at the bottom of the page saying so!

Go Hogs,


Monday, March 12, 2012

World Spins Madly On

I am not sure where or if to start but I suppose giving an effort is a good thing right?

So it has been over a year, in fact a year and a few months, since I arrived in Thailand.  A lot has changed in such a short while.  Marriages, births and unfortunately deaths.  If someone were to tell me fifteen months before this point in time that so much would have come to pass while I was gone I would have had to think long and hard about my decision before coming here.  That being said, I am glad I am here and have had the opportunity of a lifetime to experience and learn so much.  Still though, sometimes it feels like I am in Thailand, in a dream, and the world is spinning madly on.

Things have really picked up in the Peace Corps Experience.  I have been really busy lately which is a great alternative to not being busy.  I have enjoyed the pleasures of meeting many young people and teachers from all over the country through a couple of fantastic camps/conferences.  

The first camp I attended was held by the Thai Youth Theatre Committee here in Thailand.  I jumped at the chance to go and help in Pitsanulok, Thailand which is in one of the Northern Provinces.  It was a three day event focused on building self-esteem and confidence in Thai students through the arts.  The Committee planned and funded everything and the camp was a great success!  When the camp was over I was extremely proud of each and every student that camp to participate in the camp.  The students, teachers and volunteers were also able to share in an exceptional cultural experience as theatre groups from literally ALL over Thailand came to join.  The Southern, Northern, Northeastern and Central parts of Thailand were represented so not only did the students get to share in American culture but they also got to share their culture from their respective parts of the country with their peers.  Before heading home I was invited by a local high school that performed in the theatre if I would like to go home with them on their "song taew" which is like a truck with two rows of seats in the back.  I was hesitant at first and then I figured what a great opportunity to get to meet new people and students, especially ones from my community.  We were off and little did I know I was in for a visit to a beautiful waterfall amongst the company of the Hmong hill tribes (which hold a special place in my heart because of friends back home) and a one night camp-out in the national forest before heading back home to Yasothorn.  It was awesome and I hope to participate again next year.  

The second camp I attended took place in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand which is just north of my province, Yasothorn, about 200 kilometers.  The bus ride there takes about 7 hours which doesn't make much sense but unless you live here or come to visit I cannot not explain it to you on this blog (I am not sure if a 7 hour bus ride is an incentive to come visit).  I arrived, per usual, to a warm Thai welcome and smiling faces.  As a precursor to explaining why this camp was so awesome I would like to say that after the warm welcome sometimes volunteers are left to run the camp by themselves and the objective of the camp is defeated.  This camp was a "Love Your Body, Empower Your Mind" camp which had to do with healthy bodies and minds with stations dealing with Gender Empowerment, Self-Esteem, Sexual Health and Fitness.  The camp was to be done in only Thai language and although our Thai is steadily improving, the participation of the Thai teachers was critical.  The teachers were AMAZING, they stayed around the whole camp and really did their homework which helped to engage and encourage the students to really learn the material (I wish I could express how great the teachers and students were at this camp, they should be a model for schools all over rural Thailand).  A special guest, the Ambassador of the United States to Thailand also showed up for a couple of hours where she helped cook lunch with the students and addressed the importance of women in Thailand knowing they can achieve everything the men can and more.  I think it really made an impression on the female students.  The Ambassador is a very genuine person and I was glad to get the chance to talk with her for about an hour about anything and everything that we are doing here as Peace Corps Volunteers.  

On top of these two camps I have just joined the HIV/AIDS Global Initiative Group here in Thailand so I had a meeting in Bangkok as well.  "Work" life has been busy for sure and I am glad it is. 

In the upcoming four weeks I will be going with my secondary students from one of my schools to Chonburi for their end of the year vacation.  When I get back from that I will be heading to Bangkok for a meeting for a week or so and then to the South for vacation before meeting my brothers Pat and Joe back in Bangkok for the start their vacation and Thai New Year (Songkran).  Needless to say, I will have a lot to write about to cover the coming month.....I'm pumped......Oh and I dominated intramural volleyball this year we are taking home the 'ship!

Rest In Peace Donnie Ray my brother, your life was and always will be an inspiration to me and many many others.  I love you. I miss you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Is This The Cheesiest?

Macaroni and Cheeses
New Years'
Picture Frames
Family Portraits
Beef Jerkeys
Draft Beers
Kentucky Bourbons
Sweet Belts
And other things and stuff with lots of many more things......

Just some of the things (and stuff) I was able to experience/have over the holidays thanks to the many people, family and friends, that have supported me throughout this last year.  Sometimes it is great to bask in that fact and that no matter where I go or what I do, the people I have met throughout the times have stuck with me this long.

I want to wish everyone whom I know and love a very belated yet Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with good health, good memories and great times for this sweet macaroni and cheesy New Year (at least mine will be thanks to a couple of great friends Belchheimer and Abernasty).

So I was able to live it up for a couple of weeks thanks in large part to three friends from the states: Smith, Belch and Way.  I would be lying if I said I didn't wish those guys were hanging out here with me now.  It has been quite an adjustment trying to get back to being the only native English speaking bro around these parts.

Smith came solo and was able to get to my village before heading to the beach.  I think being in the village with all of the new things and my small animal infested habitat was a challenge at first but after re-cooperating from the flight and getting some rest Smith eventually came around and we had a fantastic time at the beach with some snorkeling, deep sea fishing and some elephant riding.  Smith has been a great friend for a long time now and I deeply appreciated his efforts to make it to Thailand and work through some early challenges to pull through and have a great time.  Thanks Smith!

As for Way and Belch, I am not sure exactly what we did.  We hung out a lot, I am pretty sure that is what we are all best at.  We had Christmas on the beach and they brought presents of cheesy goodness, sorries, beef jerkies and the list goes on (I have to thank Becton, Pat, Joe, Mom, Dad, Belcher, Way and Smith for all the great gifts).  When I first left I didn't think I would have anything to converse about after a year or two without my good buddies but the fact that we did not miss a beat really made me happy.  It felt like we had just left a football game and went to Powerhouse for some gator.  Can't say we did a whole lot of touristy Thailand things but I can say that they allowed me to be a bro and that was a great Christmas gift in itself, even if they didn't know.  So I want to say thank you Belcher and Way for coming to visit me and SORRY (inside jokes and stuff)!

And me...Well now it is back to real life (or kind of).  I am back in Yasothorn eating some of my favorites:  Fermented fish, sticky rice and papaya salad.  I tried my first run at raw fish here in the village and it was pretty good stuff.  I have been pretty impressed with my raw meat eating abilities after just one year of being here hopefully I won't regret that later in life when the intestinal parasites continue to eat away at my insides (jokes).  First day of teaching since pretty much the end of November was today and I had a good one.  I also cleaned up the house and washed some clothes (washing machine still broke so I am going by hand style these days) which made me feel better about getting back in the groove.

All in all, I can't complain.  Great friends, great times and great country.

Keep on keepin on,