Friday, March 15, 2013

As Pre-Service Training Ends...

I can't believe it's already been nine weeks since I and 48 other unique individuals have arrived in Thailand. We've laughed, cried, been bored, been happy, and ridden the proverbial emotional rollercoaster. Pre-service training has ended for us. Let me repeat that: Pre-service training has ended for us. Already. This is completely mind-blowing to me. It feels like just last week I was learning my first Thai words, looking over a sea of faces, Thai and American, not knowing who anyone was or who might be a friend, and just figuring out how to use the squat toilet.

My, how things have changed. We confidently stroll the market, snatching up kanom and chaa-yen.  There are always Thai conversations to be had with locals, staff, and each other. We've learned so much about one another in such a sort time... I guess being cramped together six days a week for ten hours a day will do that to you. No longer are we a cultural hot mess. We are riap roy and know how to integrate. We respect Thai culture and still hold onto our own identities. We've bonded with one another and the PC staff, who care for us like their own blood.

Us trainees have a crazy next eight to ten days. We have our language tests tomorrow, final reviews (and (non)-recommendations for service, gasp!) on Sunday, and move out from our first Thai family's homes Wednesday. Peace Corps Thailand 125 swears in as legitimate volunteers on Thursday, participate in a counterpart conference Thursday and Friday, and say our farewells to everyone and everything we know about Thailand thus far, and leave for site Saturday (TCCS at least).

I'm not exactly sure what my feels are doing at the moment. At first, during my site visit a few weeks ago, I didn't even want to return to Suphan Buri. Now, the realization of not seeing all my friends daily is being better understood. Additionally, the people who have loved me as their own son from the first day we met, unconditionally, will also be removed from my daily life. Not only are these relationships being suspended, but I also have begun to assume responsibility of my community as a Peace Corps volunteer. Pressure definitely seems to be mounting, and it's in all honesty, pretty scary.

During the entire contemplation/application/training process for Peace Corps, one knows it's inevitable that they will live alone in a totally rural town of a developing country. I get that. But, it's one thing to imagine it, and a completely different thing to be on the verge of doing it, much less actually doing it like so many before me have. I feel like I've definitely taken for granted all the supports that I currently have in Suphan- new friends, other volunteers, staff, my homestay family. While relatively fruitless, I'm trying not to overlook everything this last week, but it's still incredibly difficult to not. This is the only Thai life I know thus far.

Now, I know we will all adjust. That's life. Humans are ridiculously adaptive. But it's a pretty intimidating thought considering the entire scope of our projects, community's hopes for us, PC's investment in us, and our own expectations for ourselves. It's very bittersweet and nerve-racking. I know, jai yen yen! It will work out; it always does. Taking those first few steps alone, though, will be scary, but cathartic. Unknown, yet liberating.

Lonely, but with all the makings of home. 

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