Two in Thailand

After raising three children and watching them graduate from college, Bob and Carol decided to leave the educational field and pursue a dream that had been put on hold for 35 years (since graduationg from the University of Northern Iowa). "Two in Thailand" is the journal dedicated to that dream - to serve in the Peace Corps. This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Peace Corps Thailand Experience

Our experience as Peace Corps Volunteers from January, 2006, to April 1, 2008, was an incredible life journey. It was more than just a journey to a foreign land because it took us to places deep within ourselves. It altered our perceptions of relationships, customs (both foreign and domestic), religion, and the "American Way of Life". It taught us that a "simple" life is not necessarily a "poor" life and made us rearrange priorities in our lives. It taught us that poverty is not necessarily a lack of money, but a lack of happiness ... and in that respect, many countries that we perceive as being poor are, in fact, very rich.

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer, however, is not easy! You have to give up so many of your "comforts", but you will return as a much stronger and complete person. We strongly urge Americans to either join or support the Peace Corps. What you give to others will be returned a hundred times over in ways that you cannot imagine.
Since this blog was first published, we have taken the liberty to occasionally add reflection at the end of some of the posts. When we first published the blog, we were still adjusting to "culture shock". We found that during our first year we kept questioning the customs and practices of this foreign land. By the time we entered the second year, we were finally assimilating into the culture and began questioning our own culture. We soon discovered that many cultures have much to offer to us and that "Americanizing" another country is not necessarily in their own best interest. Ultimately, we discovered that our mission in Peace Corps was not to change the people we served, but to enable them to lead a better life while at the same time showing them that Americans are kind and sharing people that respect cultural differences.

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In Memory of Our Thailand Supervisor

On Fridays, we would catch a bus to travel to the site of the Educational Service Area Office which was about a 50-minute ride. There we met with our supervisor, Khun Sura. He was so proud to have the very first Peace Corps Volunteers Volunteers to serve in his district in the 40+ years of Peace Corps in Thailand and went out of his way to always take us places and introduce us to many administrators and teachers in the very large district he served. He would constantly check on us and make sure that we were safe and had everything we needed. He was a natural comedian and always had people laughing. His last name was Yuen-yao, but he would always mispronounce it (not difficult to do since Thai is a tonal language) so it would mean "standing while peeing" to get a laugh among the Thai people at any meeting we attended. His nickname meant "whiskey" so that he would always joke that the alcohol made him want to pee.

After we returned to the United States, we received an e-mail from one of our co-teachers that he had been killed in an auto accident. We dedicate this blog to the memory of Khun Sura, who not only made our stay memorable and safe but also insured that we got the best possible Thai counterparts.
Note: This blog is currently under reconstruction. The post dates are being reorganized so that the blog reads in chronological order, rather than the most recent posts being at the beginning.
Currently, only January 2006 through June 2006 have been rearranged. When you are finished reading this post, go to the right hand side and click January 2006 under "Archives". Then proceed to February 2006 and onward to June 2006. We hope you enjoy the blog and plan to be finished restructuring it by mid-December of this year.