And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 20 January 1961
When President Kennedy spoke those words, the Peace Corps was still being workshopped by a group of motivated students and the seeds of AmeriCorps were stuck back in the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.
Service for your country was considered in the terms of the military. Even today, when people use the phrase, “served their country,” it’s pretty much exclusively employed in reference to members of the military. Attend any major league sporting event and you’ll likely hear a “salute to our service men and women.”
But the reality of service today is much more multi-faceted that simply military service, and today is right in the middle of the time of year that is meant to recognize that service, as it is the end of Peace Corps Week and the beginning of AmeriCorps Week.
more “Recognizing Service: Peace Corps & AmeriCorps Weeks”
I love how the Internet has not only connected volunteers with life back home more, but also with volunteers in other countries. Hannah is a volunteer in Zambia and is trying to do interviews with volunteers in every Peace Corps country. Of course I volunteered to talk about Thailand.
On What Thai People are Like
I live in the poorest region of Thailand, the northeast, but in all of my travels I think that the people here are the best. Not many tourists or travelers come to this part of Thailand, and so when they do see me, they are genuinely interested in meeting me, talking to me, and helping me. They are so proud of Thailand and their region and want to show it off to me, and when I bust out the minimal dialect I know (usually I just say “I can’t speak Isaan!” in the Isaan dialect, which always gets a laugh), I have instantly made a new friend.
Read the whole thing on Hannah Goes Fishing.
There are all kinds of lessons that you learn in Peace Corps. From your first day, you are learning a new language, to the lessons that are passed down through volunteer lore (top two being: “It’s not if, it’s when,” and “Never trust a fart.”) You learn the cultural norms and celebrations of your host country and how to navigate around.
I’ve been in Nepal for about a week now, and I’m realizing that some of the lessons I’ve learned from my Peace Corps service are showing up in my life traveling here.
more “4 Travel Lessons I Learned in Peace Corps”
Because my time here is Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer has officially drawn to a close, I’m feeling a bit sentimental. I previously posted a video that used this song, but I wanted to post the official music video as my farewell.
Today is officially my last day as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Even if I could sum up that last two years in words, it would likely be a novel, or at least a novella. Can you put the last two years of your life in a blog post? Didn’t think so. So, harkening back to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a gallery of picture highlights from the last 27 months. (Click on any picture to enlarge.)
(Apologies to my readers who are in locations with limited data and Internet connectivity. I suggest skipping this post and coming back to it when you have decent Internet.)
more “See What I Saw: A Photographic Chronicle of 27 Months”
As my time here in Thailand draws to a close, the topics of my posts are going to shift away from Thailand. I will keep blogging, and you should expect some travel writing over the next couple months!
However, if you are in need of a Thailand fix, never fear! I bring to you some fellow Peace Corps volunteers who will be staying in Thailand after I leave and whose blogs I think are pretty exceptional. Check ’em out and click “Follow.”
more “6 Peace Corps Thailand Bloggers to Follow”
Just after the New Year’s, fellow Blog It Home winner Keith came to visit me. We mostly spent time in my village and at my school, and he made a great video summing up a pretty typical day for me. A big thank you to Keith and check it out!
After living in Thailand for just over two years, I have picked up some very valuable life lessons. As an American, Thai culture can often times feel like everything is upside down. However, living in a different culture allows you to reflect on yourself and your own culture in a very unique way. These are some Thai ways of life that I want to continue to incorporate in my life.
Two years is a long time. It’s also not enough time. When you are staring down the barrel of a two-year commitment, it’s daunting and difficult to imagine. On the back end, you start wishing for more time and thinking of all the things you didn’t get to do. So I present to you, a list of six things that I didn’t get a chance to do in Thailand, that I hope I will have the chance to return to do.