Another Step Along my Journey

I thought it was a minor medical concern.
Peace Corps considered it a more significant medical issue.

I thought small adjustments to my lifestyle and medical monitoring would suffice.
Peace Corps said they may be ”unable to provide necessary and appropriate health care.”

I planned to move to Peru in March, living in a small rural community to help with their economic development.
Peace Corps didn’t think I should live where “health infrastructure is limited.”

I anticipated receiving medical clearance and celebrating the winter holidays in a glow of excitement.
Peace Corps said, “We regret to inform you that we are unable to clear you for service with Peace Corps at this time.”

A door I anticipated skipping through had been slammed shut.

I recently received the unexpected and unwanted news from the Peace Corps Medical unit.
I shed tears of sadness, frustration, and disappointment.
I told myself to breathe.

I thought of others who faced heartache from much more serious circumstances: life-threatening illness, tragic accidents, death of a loved one. They endured their pain or wallowed through grief to emerge stronger.
I told myself I would be OK.

I remembered the “when a door shuts a window opens” quote.
I told myself to start looking for windows.

I looked back at being surrounded by family during Thanksgiving celebrations, relishing their love and support.
I smiled at the new reality of being able to spend more time with family and friends.

Several years ago my ex-husband and I gave ourselves the “gift of goodbye” as we stepped apart to live separate lives.
I decided Peace Corps had given me the “gift of time.”

Three months of pre-service preparation time.
Twenty-seven months of volunteer service time.
Six months of post-service transition-to-life-in-the-states time.

I’d been handed an unexpected gift of three years of my life. I started to consider what do with that precious gift of time.

  • I’ll settle in to my current home. Decorating for Christmas. Unpacking more boxes. Letting go of items that no longer bring me joy.
  • I’ll focus on my health. Eating to live healthier. Exercising to live longer.
  • I’ll spend more time connecting with family and friends. Calling. Writing. Being together.
  • I’ll travel (while living in Kansas). Visiting family and friends. Exploring new places. Maybe visiting Peru.
  • I’ll write more. Recording daily gratitudes. Editing my Ghana and Thailand stories.
  • I’ll read more. Learning. Growing.
  • I’ll get involved in my local community. Volunteering. Helping. Finding ways to continue living the “return” portion of my “Learn. Earn. Return.” philosophy.
  • I’ll decide “what’s next.”

I still believe my current minor medical concern is nothing to worry about.
I’m still disappointed I won’t spend 27 months living in Peru partnering with locals to support community economic development.

And I now plan to take advantage of my unexpected “gift of time.” I’ll take another step along my journey – staying alert for interesting options while continuing to look, learn, love, and live every single day.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Only Fifty Photos?

Last week a teacher approached me in the teacher work room: “I am making a report. I need some photos of you in Thailand.”
How many photos do you need?
“Fifty.”

Only fifty photos? I have more than fifty photos from each day of the three-day scout camp. In one (extra busy) month, I added 4,408 photos to my hard drive. I documented a (relatively uneventful) month with nearly 300 photos – almost 10 photos a day.

Only fifty photos? That’s less than two pictures per month. How would I choose?

I captured the pageantry, excitement and competition of multiple Sports Days with over 100 pictures each day.

I tried to reflect the culture and heritage of Thailand by taking thousands of pictures of parades, religious celebrations, temples, monuments, and special concerts.

I used millions of pixels to document the minutia of daily life (shopping, eating, cooking, playing, teaching, learning).

As I celebrated special family occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays, and ordinations, I took many candid and posed shots (and, of course, some selfies).

As I taught students, collaborated with and trained teachers, and partnered with other Peace Corps Volunteers to provide English camps, other people snapped pictures and sent them to me.

In addition to thousands of static photos, I captured many voices and activities with short videos.

Only fifty photos? Impossible. I have almost 30,000 photos on my hard drive. It took hours to view the pictures as I tried to select photos that best represented my time in Thailand. But I did not meet the only-fifty-photos goal. Perhaps I could consider myself an overachiever; I exceeded the goal by 10x. After I transferred the photos to her thumb drive, I asked the teacher to decide which ones best met her needs.

 

Reviewing my photos brought back many memories of my many incredible experiences in Thailand – memories that I’ll soon relive with friends and family in America.

When friends ask me some version of “What was living in Thailand like?” I’ll show some pictures and try to condense my experience.

  • I’ll try to remember to ask “What do you want to hear about?”
    Some people may want to learn about everyday life.
    Others may want to understand how Buddhism is practiced.
    Others may want to compare Thai schools to America schools.
  • I’ll try to remember to ask, “How much do you want to hear?”
    Most may want a five-minute Cliff Notes’ highlight version.
    Some may be interested in learning more.

And most of all, I’ll try not to be an overachiever. I’ll reign in my desire to talk for hours and show hundreds of pictures.  And when they politely change the topic after seeing only 5 or 50 photos, I’ll change my focus and listen to their stories.

Here are some sneak-preview photos of P6 students making Ban Kao Lam (sticky rice, coconut, and sugar steamed inside a bamboo stem).

Opening the coconut

Scraping out the coconut meat

The school kitchen area: passing the long pieces of bamboo which will be cut, rinsed, and then filled

Cutting the bamboo into 18″ lengths

Blending cassava powder, sugar, coconut milk, and coconut meat

Adding the foamy coconut-cassava mixture to the top of the soaked and rinsed sticky rice

Stuffing the bamboo sticks

Placing the bamboo in the “steamer” and inserting a folded leaf at the top of each stem

Placing the “lid” on the steamer that’s balanced on cement blocks over the wood fire

Trying to remove a hot Ban Kao Lam from the steamer

Breaking open the bamboo and tasting!
Delicious!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Chocolate Pudding

With the oscillating fan sitting in the perfect location (close enough to keep us cool and distant enough to not interfere with our Uno cards) we sit on the living room floor, moaning or giggling when someone places a “Draw +2” or a “Wild +4” on the growing discard pile.

The children talk to each other in their local Issan language. Then one of them looks at me.

Chocolate pudding?
She asks hopefully in English. Making chocolate pudding is currently their favorite post-card-game cooking/eating activity.
“Not today. We’ll make chocolate pudding on Saturday.”
The student translates the day (Wan-sao) to make sure everyone understands. Then she looks at me and asks me for their second choice.
Snowman cookies?
“Yes. Today we’ll make snowman cookies.”

We finish the game and make snowman cookies with chocolate chip eyes, a round-candy nose, and a strawberry jam mouth. They say thank you as they take their cookies home.

Making snowman cookies.

On Saturday we play Skip-Bo in front of the fan. In the middle of the second game, a student checks to confirm our post-game activity.

Today chocolate pudding?
“Yes. We’ll make chocolate pudding today – after this game.”
No translation needed. Everyone heard “yes.” They smile and nod. And maybe we play the game a bit faster.

Best, the youngest student, wins the game. We stuff the cards back into the well-worn box. It feels like a race to the kitchen where the students automatically wash their hands.

Eye, the oldest student, retrieves the recipe book off the shelf. She thumbs through the hand-written notebook looking for the correct recipe.

She finds a page, points to a recipe name, and looks at me with raise eyebrows.
Chocolate pudding? Her eyes ask me.
I look at the recipe she found. “No. That’s custard pudding.”

She turns some more pages.
She finds another promising option and points.
Chocolate pudding? This time she uses words.
“No. That’s chocolate cake.”

She continues looking for the chocolate pudding recipe.
Her voice is confident on her next choice. Perhaps she remembers the way the recipe was written or maybe she sees a trace of cocoa powder on the page.
Chocolate pudding!  She announces.
“Yes. You are right. What do we need?”

Twelve-year-old Eye takes five steps across the kitchen to remove the small saucepan from the hook between the stove and the door. She sets the pan on the table.

Seven-year-old Best grabs the whisk from another hook. He squishes the whisk into his hand and lets it bounce back into shape. The children giggle at his magic.

Eye checks the ingredients and directs the younger children.

Sugar. Blue cup. One student finds the opaque plastic container labeled “Sugar.” Another student gets the blue measuring cup. Eye fills the half-cup measuring cup with grainy tan sugar. She hands the cup to another child who dumps it into the saucepan.

Cocoa. Green cup. Eye has made chocolate pudding several times – often enough to read the ingredients and remember the color-coded cup needed for each item. Her sous chefs find the cocoa container and the correct measuring cup. They add one-third cup cocoa to the saucepan.

Corn starch. As one student grabs the old peanut-butter jar with the blue lid that contains corn starch, Eye finds the white Tablespoon. They measure and dump two tablespoons corn starch to the saucepan.

Salt. Eye finds the smallest measuring spoon and lets another student add a bit of salt to the pan.

With all the dry ingredients in the saucepan, each student takes a turn whisking the powders together.

Stirring the dry ingredients together with a whisk.

Eye gets a cereal bowl and a couple of smaller bowls.

Two eggs. Two milk.

Two different students each crack an egg into a small bowl. They capture and carefully pour the egg yolks into the cereal bowl.  Two students each cut open a 100 ml boxes of shelf-stable milk. Under Eye’s guidance, they take turns whisking the egg yolks while gradually adding the milk.

When the dry ingredients are dissolved, Eye carries the saucepan to the stove. They wait without a sound as I turn on the propane. As I move to turn the knob on the stove, they echo my “Stand back.”

We use a big red spoon and take turns stirring. Gradually the sweet-smelling dark brown liquid gets thicker. Students count how many people will eat the pudding; they line up five ceramic ramekins and place a small spoon in each one.

Ramekins lined up – ready for hot chocolate pudding!

In a few minutes, small bubbles form and the pudding starts to boil. We stir constantly as the pudding boils for one minute. I turn off the gas and the stove and we let the pudding cool for a minute. I put a heaping spoonful of pudding in each ramekin. Then I add another smaller spoonful to each serving.

We each carry our tiny ramekins with hot chocolate pudding to the living room. We eat.
The teacher in me can’t resist reviewing the English vocabulary. “Yummy chocolate pudding! What’s in it?” Children take turns naming the ingredients and the amounts. Cocoa: green cup.  Sugar: blue cup.  Milk: two. Eggs: two.

They experiment with the feel and look of chocolate pudding in their mouths. They pose for pictures.

Pure joy!
He didn’t play Skip-Bo or help make the pudding. But he arrived just in time to eat it!

A chocolate-ty grin

We soon take our empty bowls and licked-clean spoons to the kitchen. We wash dishes.

They politely say thank you and skip to the door to put on their shoes and go home.

I often think of how the students will remember their cooking experiences.

In my most positive reflection, I see one of them visiting America and being surprised that chocolate pudding is refrigerated and served cold as a dessert! I imagine them starting to tell a story to their friends:  When I was a child in Thailand…

In another (perhaps more realistic) scenario, I see them struggling to correctly answer a question on Thailand’s nation-wide education test. The question they are trying to answer is something like:

Chocolate pudding is sometimes eaten in America. Which of the following statements is false?

  1. a) Chocolate pudding is made with cocoa, milk, eggs, and sugar.
  2. b) Chocolate pudding is served hot.
  3. c) Chocolate pudding is served cold.
  4. d) Chocolate pudding is a sweet dessert eaten after a meal.

Chocolate pudding!
They remember. They “know” A and B are correct. But they struggle between selecting C or D; both seem false. They finally make a decision and select either C (because they’ve never tasted cold chocolate pudding) or D (because they’ve always eaten chocolate pudding as a snack – never after a meal).

Making and eating chocolate pudding.
Building memories in Thailand.
For the students and for me.

In case you want to make your own memories: our Chocolate Pudding recipe.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

New Habits

Over the last two years I’ve picked up many new habits. These seven habits – based on my current environment and Thai cultural norms – have become a part of my daily life.

1) Wai-ing (a polite head bow with palms together and fingertips/thumbs close to the face)
Daily greeting starts with a wai (pronounced like “why”). The verbal sa-wat-dii-ka (hello) seems almost secondary – nice, but not quite as important as the respectful wai. When people stand up to leave a meeting, they excuse themselves with a polite wai to the individuals (especially the dignitaries) who remain in the room. Mothers with infants on their laps gently guide their children’s hands into the wai position and murmur “Sa-wat-dii-ka” in a child-like voice to teach their babies how to greet others.
I wai at least 20 times each day. I wai with a single hand when I’m riding my bike. My wai to monks and people in higher positions is deeper and more solemn than my wai to friends, co-teachers, and sellers at the market.

The paw-aw (principal) with me – dressed in traditional Issan clothing, wai-ing in front of the school sign

Student leaders wai-ing to other students during the daily morning assembly.

2. Smiling.
Living in the Land of Smiles, people smile. All the time. Their frequent smiles remind me of Mother Teresa’s quote: “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Smiles build and strengthen personal connections. Smiling feels good.

My counterpart – smiling for a selfie with the (not smiling) grilled frogs

3. Saying, “Mai bpen rai.”
One of the most important Thai phrases I learned is Mai bpen rai! (“It’s OK.” “No problem.” “Don’t worry.”) Saying Mai bpen rai (or nodding with a smile to someone else’s Mai bpen rai) is my personal reminder to “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
You accidentally bumped into me? Mai bpen rai.
You were late to a meeting? Mai bpen rai.
I was distracted and didn’t greet you with a wai and a smile? Mai bpen rai.
The banana bread I baked for you was a bit under-cooked and slightly dough-y? Mai bpen rai.

  1. Eating with a large spoon or my fingers.
    When I arrived in Thailand, it seemed natural to eat cereal or soup with a large spoon. Now it seems natural to eat anything (my morning egg on toast, my lunch salad, my steamed sweet potato snacks, or my evening lentils) with a large spoon. Food seldom falls out of the spoon’s bowl. A fork becomes a food pusher to help slide food onto the spoon.
    It’s also acceptable to use fingers instead of utensils to grab food from the serving plate or to move food to your mouth. Why bother using a utensil to pick up slippery noodles or sticky rice when fingers are readily available and more efficient?
  2. Eating communally.
    Eating is a communal in Thailand. Most families sit on a mat on the floor – in a circle around bowls and platters of food. At school, the teachers sit around a table with serving bowls/patters in the middle of the table. We each have our own plate and a large spoon (or the traditional Asian spoon with a flat bottom and a V handle). The serving dishes – usually multiple dishes with the same food instead of a large dish with all of one type of food – sit in the middle the table. Serving dishes do not generally contain a serving spoon and serving dishes are not passed around. People use their own utensils or fingers to reach across their plates and get food from serving dishes.
    I will myself to think “communal eating” and “connecting” when we put our own spoons into the serving dish to serve ourselves (or each other) more food. I try not to think “take the first one you touch” or “too many germs” when someone uses their fingers or their individual spoon to pick through food in a serving bowl to find the perfect chunk of meat or piece of veggie to add to their plate.
    I have accepted, but have not really adapted to Thai-style communal dining.

    Typical teacher’s lunch spread at school

  3. Removing shoes before entering a special place
    Like people in many Asian countries, Thais remove their shoes before entering a temple, house, or other special place. Students are incredibly adept at removing their shoes when entering the classroom and seem to do it without breaking stride. Some businesses (e.g., internet cafes, traditional clothing stores) have mats by the front door; people remove their shoes before entering the shop. People with higher status sometimes do not remove their shoes. For example, children remove their shoes before entering the classroom or the canteen; teachers can keep their shoes on in the classroom and the cafeteria.
    When I go to a friend’s house or a temple, it’s natural to remove my shoes. But when I come home, I cheat a bit; I usually remove my shoes just inside my front door.

    Children’s shoes outside the canteen (cafeteria)

  4. Taking selfies.
    Thais have perfected the art of taking selfies. They take photos to document special events and daily life. They post multiple selfies (with slight changes in expression, focus, composition) on social media. “Selfies” include pictures were someone not in the picture takes the pictures. Having a specific location with a dignified background and reserving time for posed photos is an important part of a special event like a wedding, awards ceremony or English camp.

As I transition to life in America, it will be interesting to see which of these habits stick. It may take a while before my wai morphs into a simple head nod and a smile. Thinking mai bpen rai will continue; but perhaps my spoken words will change to “that’s OK.” Although eating with a big spoon is certainly convenient, I’ll probably switch back to the American custom of using a fork. (I may spill more food, but friends will think I’m a little clumsy instead of ill-mannered.) I look forward to having serving spoons in large communal dishes. I’ll probably continue to go barefoot inside my house, but life will be easier without stopping to remove my shoes several times a day. I’ll try to take selfies alone or with other people to document my life.

It’s also interesting to consider how a Thai person would notice American culture and adapt to our norms. I imagine if my Thai friends spent extended time in America, they might comment on the strange habits they’ve picked up. They might make observations similar to the following if they write about their new habits:

  • I don’t know if I’ll remember to wai. Americans don’t wai; they sometimes shake hands, but showing respect with a wai is not part of their culture.
  • I’ve become much more expressive – even if I have negative emotions. Please forgive me if I need to be reminded to smile.  Also forgive me if I frown, get angry, or speak loudly in public.
  • I don’t think I could ever get used to the pressure to be on time and always plan way in advance. I often thought mai bpen rai and want to tell my American friends to “relax.” They don’t seem to realize that things will work out. I look forward to relaxing!
  • I learned how to eat with a fork, but I’ll be happy to go back to using a large spoon.
  • Instead of using several small serving bowls which everyone can conveniently reach, they use one big serving bowl and pass it around – even if it’s heavy and there’s really no pace to put it down. I look forward to eating on a mat on the floor where all the food is within easy reaching distance.
  • I adopted the Western habit of wearing shoes inside. Americans do not remove their dirty shoes when they enter their homes or even churches. Wearing my dirty shoes inside always felt odd.
  • I got in the habit of taking pictures of buildings or scenery – things that never change. I’ll be relieved to be able to take lots of pictures of myself and the people I enjoy spend time with.

Environment and culture create a foundation for many of our daily habits.

“There are two types of habits: ones which comfort us, and ones which would be a comfort if we stopped.” (Catherine Pulsifer)

When I return to America, I’ll keep and adapt the comfortable habits I’ve learned in Thailand: smiling and accepting things as they are with a mai bpen rai. I’ll abandon the habits that I’ve adapted to while living in Thailand but will not provide the same comfort in America: wai-ing and communal dining.

As my life changes, my behavior will change. I’ll focus on my behavior because often-repeated behaviors become habits. Instead of unconsciously picking up new habits, I’ll strive to consciously create new habits.

I want to remember: First we form habits, then they form us. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

A Normal Boring Day *

March 1st started off like most days in Thailand. I woke up before my alarm and listened to roosters crowing and leaves gently touching my tin.

After a few stretches to get my blood flowing, I completed my typical household chores like sweeping, washing dishes, and putting away clean clothes. I ate breakfast, baked some bread and steamed some sweet potatoes. A surprise greeted me as I defrosted and cleaned the refrigerator: a baby gecko had sought refuge from the heat in the fridge and then became petrified behind the veggie bin.

The baby gecko (with a spoon to show relative size)

As you’ve probably guessed from my morning activities, we didn’t have school on March 1st. Banks, post offices, schools, and other government offices were closed to commemorate Makha Bucha Day.

To honor the Buddhist national holiday, many community members went to the local temple to give merit. On their way back from the temple, four middle school students stopped by my house. They tasted my hot-from-the-oven yeast bread (and declared mai wan or “not sweet”) and we played Uno.

Ready to taste the fresh-baked bread.

Later in the day, a few boys came by and made masks.

Experimenting with paper and scissors.

And no non-school day is complete without making “snowman cookies” with chocolate chip eyes, candy noses and strawberry jam mouths.

Making snowman cookies.

One student who dreams of visiting me in America made me a bracelet and used my phone’s Thai-English dictionary to write me a sweet note.

Instead of writing the English words, she copied the transliteration of the Thai words.

To prepare for the evening candle ceremony at the temple, students used rubber bands to connect the three candles, three incense sticks and a few fresh leaves.

Combining the candles, incense sticks and leaves.

After dinner a handful of students called “Let’s go!” from my open front door. We tested our flashlights and carried our candle-incense-leaves sticks to the temple.

The temple was dark and closed. Padlocks on the iron gates kept us locked out of the main building. We sat on benches under a tree, listened to the night sounds, and watched the almost-full orange moon rise. (Makha Bucha Day honors Buddhist history linked to the full moon in the third month.)

Twenty minutes later, a man rode onto the temple grounds on his bicycle. The children flagged him down and they talked in the local dialect. At the end of the conversation, we all walked to the monk’s quarters.

The man (who was later identified as the grandfather of one of the children) roused the monk, found the key to the main building, opened the gates, and turned on the lights. Ten minutes later, the monk came to ring the gong announcing time for community members to come to the temple.

Over the next 30 minutes, people trickled into the temple. Women wore long skirts and white blouses. Fresh-from-showers children wore clean clothes or pajamas. No other men arrived.

As each small group arrived, they bowed three times to show respect. The women sat quietly talking. The children talked together, played quiet games, or went outside to play tag and other energy-depleting games.

The short service began when about 50 people were present. We bowed. We chanted. We listened to a three-minute sermon. We bowed again. Then we left the building and put on our shoes for the short walk to the elevated Buddha statue. At the base of the statue – in the light from the mouths of the cement dragons – we lit our candles, took off our shoes, and began the clockwise procession around the golden Buddha statue. The monk and man led the way and the chants. The women and children followed. After walking around the base three times, we climbed the stairs. Small groups of people bowed three times before placing their incense sticks into the sand-filled urns.

After I placed my stick in the urn, the student who had made my candle-incense-leaves tribute, made my bracelet, and wrote the sweet note earlier in the day announced, “Let’s go home.”

The bright yellow moon, higher in the sky, guided us on our short walk home.

I breathed in contentment and smiled at the end of my normal boring day (NOT!) in Thailand.

 

* Nicolas Goke recently posted three questions to consider to help people examine and decide how to live their lives:

  1. What do I want my normal “boring” days to look like?
  2. Who do I want in my life?
  3. Where do I want to live?

Writing about March 1st made me realize why I love being a Peace Corps Volunteer. My normal “boring” days are anything but boring. I can easily connect with people I want in my life: friends and family in America and friends in Thailand who help me learn and grow. I enjoy living in another country where I can meet new people, experience a different culture and expand my knowledge.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Full Circle. Four Words.

In 2011, I read Patti Digh’s inspirational book “Four Words Self Help.” At the end of the book, she challenged readers to identify their own four-word self-help sentences. I accepted her challenge.

As I prepared to transition to living as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana. I wrote ten four-word statements to help me remember who I wanted to be and how I wanted to act as I created my new life. I made a small booklet; each page highlighted one four-word statement. As a token of gratitude and friendship, I gave friends and family members copies of the tiny booklet.

I don’t have the electronic version of the booklet and cannot remember all 10 statements. But I remember the four-word title: “Move Forward Each Day.”

Apt advice for starting to create a full circle.

 

The next arc of the circle surfaced in 2013 as I started my second year of Peace Corps service in Ghana. Writing a semi-regular blog had become a bit boring. To remind myself to be present and to capture a memory from each day, I started writing “Four Words Each Day” and emailing them to friends.

I didn’t start the new tradition with “Move Forward Each Day.” But I captured the sentiment as I began the new year:
January 1: Decide who to be.
January 2: Take the next step.
January 3: Adjust goals. Redefine success.

In addition to writing “four words” each day, I added some explanatory text.

For example, January third’s four words (Adjust goals. Redefine success.) included this text:

My initial 2013 goal: Send a four-word thought each day. 

But… I haven’t had internet coverage since yesterday afternoon.  The cell network is down. No emails in or out. No connection with the outside world. A reminder that I live in a developing nation with limited infrastructure.

My modified goal: Write a four-word thought each day.

External circumstances encouraged me adjust this goal; current conditions forced me to refine my definition of success.

What other goals should I examine to see if they remain appropriate based on my life today?

Food for thought…

How about you?  What goals need to be adjusted? How could success be redefined?

 

The text explaining the four words described why the words were selected, captured a bit about life in Ghana, and often provided some (perhaps unwanted) advice.

It took the entire year to create the 365 four-words-each-day arc of the circle.

 

When I returned to life in America in 2014, I created the next (much smaller) arc: a photo book with each of the four words from 2013. The monthly spread provided the four-word statements for each day of the month, the explanatory text for one of the four-word statements, and photos to illustrate the story. I gave copies of the photo book to a few close friends and family members.

 

Fast forward to 2018. Peace Corps Thailand unknowingly created the next arc – by requesting “four words” from each of us who will soon close our service and leave Thailand.

With 365 four-word statements already written, I could have used one of those. I glanced through the previous statements, but nothing seemed quite right. I wanted the words to capture my Thailand experience.

Give from your heart.

I was a stranger; they took me in.
I didn’t know their language; they tried to understand me.
I made cultural mistakes; they forgave and accepted me.
I didn’t eat meat and I didn’t like spicy food; they adjusted their menus.
I disrupted their lives and caused them extra work; they welcomed me with open arms and hearts.

They gave from their heart. And I tried to respond in kind.
My four words – Give from your heart. – reminds me of their generosity and encourages me to be a generous giver.

Perhaps the circle is complete: Move forward each day. Give from your heart.
Moving toward goals and giving/helping along the way.

Or perhaps the circle is actually a spiral.
A spiral that continues to enlarge and expand as I head back to create my new life in America.
A spiral that guides me to move forward each day and give generously from my heart.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Thai Day

We celebrated Thai Day at Banjodnatan School today.

Students sang, danced, and presented Thai tales that were as familiar to the audience as “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

The audience and the actors enjoyed the day.

Introductions before the individual dance contest.

 

Second grade boys dancing.

Teachers dressed in traditional Thai clothing and were recognized for their accomplishments.

  • Capturing memories of the day.

My Counterpart received an award for our Paw-aw (Principal).

 

Most teachers rented outfits for the day. A Thai teacher loaned me wonderful clothes (and helped me get dressed).

 

Today was great. And tomorrow may be even more interesting. We’re driving to Bangkok overnight. On Friday well join thousands of people to give tribute to the King who died last October.

I’m living the good life in Thailand.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments