Thursday, January 24, 2008

American Holidays

I have been pretty bad at keeping up with my journal entries. I have officially been in Thailand over one year and that is possibly the reason why my journaling has slipped off. It is quite exciting to memorialize the unique experiences that seem to occur everyday as you are continually confronted with a culture and country that you still don’t quite fully understand. Once that novelty has worn off, as it has to some degree by this point, it just seems that your weekly activities don’t merit a journal entry. As much as it may seem impossible to my friends and family back home, I really have settled into the daily routine of living in Thailand. This shouldn’t discount the fact that this daily routine does include speaking Thai and not understanding Karen, riding my bike on dirt roads through the mountains of northern Thailand from one Karen hill tribe village to another, sharing dinner with adopted families around an open fire situated in the living room of a bamboo house, or sitting in the back of a covered pickup truck for five hours to reach the provincial capital. I think that my daily life does merit much more attention!

I can’t recall many specifics from the month of December, but I can recall that I was able to return to the U.S. for the holidays and for my good friend Luke’s wedding. My time in the U.S. was a whirlwind affair. A long journey from Thailand was exacerbated by United’s inability to get their passengers to any destination without endless delays and problems. I ended up having to stay the night in Las Vegas which extended my traveling time to somewhere around four days before I actually arrived in Wyoming. A blizzard accompanied my Mom’s and Brandt’s welcome home, but was not enough to deter us from our Christmas Eve gathering. Christmas went off flawlessly and I received some of the best presents I have ever received (I was also fairly eager to give my Thai gifts away). Luke’s wedding was great fun and to get to see all my Buffalo buddies was more than I could ask for. I am quite positive that I haven’t laughed as much for years as I did in those few days with those guys. Luke and Marsha had a perfect wedding and I was honored to be Luke’s best man. Morgan arrived just in time for the wedding and she got to meet my friends and family. We made a trip through the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore and also got to spend some good time hiking in the snowy Bighorn Mountains and sightseeing in Buffalo and Sheridan. I had a great last day in Billings with my Mom where I stuffed myself with deliciously unhealthy American food and boarded my plane for yet another journey halfway across the globe.

Now I am back in Thailand and am excited about the prospects of the next few months. I have several projects that the tambon wants me to help with including a project to provide low cost computers to the local school, an effort to create a community development resource center at the SAO, a world map project with the children and teachers at the school, English and teacher trainings involving other volunteers, another effort to mobilize the community around a home-stay tourism project, and initializing my masters thesis research. It seems pretty ambitious and I think it is. Ambition is the key to achieving what seems unlikely to be accomplished. Complacency breeds apathy. In a years time I intend to write on this blog about the community’s successes in achieving these goals.

In one week I will be going with the SAO and 30 other community members on a ดูงาน, or is known in English as...I guess a work study. We will be getting on a bus for a four day journey to officially go see successful organizations in order to get ideas for the tambon. In reality I think it will consist of lots of karaoke, drinking, and very little working. I hope my Thai friends prove me wrong, but I guess there is not too much harm mixing a little fun in with business! I will keep you posted on the outcome!