Today marks the end of a my first year as a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Thailand. And as I say goodbye to 2014 (2557 in Thailand), I’m looking forward to 2015 even more, with renewed commitment and heightened sense of wonder and awe.
While my blog, WanderingTheWorld.com, is mostly a photo album of events while I’m here in Thailand, I decided to use this place to try and document daily thoughts about my experiences and to show my gratitude for those opportunities. So, let’s begin.
The Day Before New Year’s Eve
Believe it or not, the whole village was hopping last night. This week, I’ve seen a lot of new faces as people have come back to the village to be with family at the New Year. My host mother’s oldest son came from Chunburi where he works. Yesterday seemed more like the Thai-version of an American Thanksgiving, what with everyone feasting until you couldn’t eat any more. Not only did I eat with my host family, but when I visited the neighbors, they too filled a plate so I could join them.
And more like Christmas, there is a lot of gift giving. I got a shirt from my host mother’s son. One of the teachers at school gave me some towels. My host mother, Dang, said that it’s all about the giving. She said there is no shame if you don’t have anything to give. She said that if a person was fortunate, they shared that good fortune by giving gifts, food and money to the elders, parents, teachers (like me), and others as a way of saying thanks.
And very much like New Year’s celebrations that will be happening worldwide tonight, in Thailand, they did the same last night. Yuphin, one of my neighbors, and I went over to another neighbors, who had decorated their house with Christmas lights, to sing karaoke and dance. But most people were on the other side of the village at a huge concert at the gawsawnaw. And while I headed back home at about 10pm, the sound from the gawsawnaw concert was so loud, even from the other side of the village, I didn’t get to sleep until the early morning hours.
New Year’s Eve
So, today, while those in American go out and dance to the lights fantastic, Thai’s will be going to the wat, the Buddhist temple. My host mother said they will go to our village wat today and tomorrow, will go to another wat farther away. She said the ceremonies could last 4-5 hours and that it would be hard for me to sit on the floor that long, so I’ll stay home.
New Years
I won’t lie, this year has not been easy. Coming to Thailand, going through training, moving to a new community, working in a totally different culture, has had it’s rough spots. But like the Peace Corps saying goes, “The toughest job you’ll ever love", it’s true. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I am so grateful to so many people here in Thailand who have opened their doors and hearts to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And like I said in the beginning, I don’t know what the next year will bring. But I’m looking forward to 2015 (2558) even more, with renewed commitment and heightened sense of wonder and awe.