Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Culture Puzzle

Wow...nearly two months have passed since I last wrote. I’m sure it was a welcome respite for many and a painful absence for a few (although I’m not quite sure who). I have officially been in Thailand for six months and that duration may be at the root of the inactivity of my blog. The time has flown by and I have done and seen such amazing things, made great friends both Thai and American, and learned so much about this sometimes overwhelmingly exotic country. The first few months after arriving in a foreign land is to use a somewhat cliché but apt comparison a rollercoaster ride. Each day the struggle to understand the language, culture, and people causes a euphoria and fear which are at constant battle for control of the greater part of your emotions. From minute to minute one finds oneself feeling that the puzzle is finally coming together to then only have the notion shattered by the reckless toddler who sees the puzzle as simply a congregation of myriad colors. The broken pieces are then left strewn about the floor for yet another attempt at understanding what the toddler couldn’t see, a culture replete with its infinite intricately cut pieces.

As time passes the pieces become more familiar. Familiarity is interrupted with bouts of vagueness when the location of one of the pieces that could shed illuminating light on the darkened puzzle seems to be lost somewhere in the dimness just beyond reach. Sometimes many hours are spent looking for the matching aperture to the notch of the piece that you hold in your hand, to ultimately realize that the notch in your hand was not the shape you had initially believed it to be. The location is soon discovered and much self-deprecation is allotted for lacking to see such a seemingly simple variation that changed the meaning in such a drastic way. These hiccups become ever more few and far between and soon more pieces are added to the puzzle each day with little thought. This is where I find myself right now. Thailand for the most part makes sense but this does not undermine the fact that I am still working with a puzzle I have never seen before with thousands of pieces that still lay before me.

It is July 16, 2007 and I have just returned from Kanchanaburi where all PCVs from group 119 reunited for Pre-Service Training II. Two weeks were spent at a posh resort where we learned many participatory development techniques as well as once again tackling the Thai language with the venerable Peace Corps Ajans (teachers). It was a very informative and entertaining two weeks. It was excellent to get to see all my friends that I had said goodbye to three months earlier as we all left on our way to our far flung destinations within the country of Thailand. This
Wednesday I once again embark on a new epoch in my Peace Corps experience. After somewhat naively believing that I would move up to my village and my new house more than a month ago it now appears more likely than not that I will actually make the transition. All my things are packed and waiting at the door, the house is finished being built, and a trip is planned for Wednesday. It seems to be the union of all the perfect factors that will guarantee a successful move, although I have learned to be cautiously optimistic.

My moving in resolution is to keep my blog updated weekly like I had originally intended. This will probably also cut down on my long windedness that has more than once been told makes for quite a drawn out and somewhat less entertaining blog reading experience. By the way, one other resolution is to train daily for the Bangkok Marathon in November. I would love to accomplish such a feat and apparently my other volunteer friends have a similar outlook, and what better time to do it!