Learning to Jai Yen Yen

My last few posts have been very photo heavy and fun, I’ve been trying to use this blog just as a way to show my adventures and experiences in Thailand. But there has been a lot weighing down on me this whole time and I think it’s time to use this blog as a way to express it all. I’m going to get it out there and then I’m going to Jai Yen Yen and let it go.

Next week will be my 1 month mark in Thailand, and yet it feels like I’ve been here so much longer. I start my mornings at 6am, after being woken up around 2am and then 4am to the sounds of either dogs, roosters or my neighbor sweeping away the leaves and cleaning the pathways to my kitchen. Yes, he does this multiple times throughout the night.

I lay in bed for what seems like 5 more minutes but in reality comes out to be 30-45 minutes. I rush to pack my backpack, a change of clothes for school (biking in skirts is mai riap roy {unappropriate}) and scarfing down a bowl of rice and whatever form of protein/veg my host mom has made for me that morning. Sometimes she makes me a fried egg, hot dogs, toast and these delicious donut/beignet things that I dip in my coffee. They are my fave! Aroy mah! (So Delicious!)

Then I get on my bike (with my extra heavy backpack) and adventure down to my school, which is only about 2km away (10 minutes or so). Language class starts promptly at 8:00am and goes until 11:45, lunch break is an hour and a half and then we go back for Technical Training Sessions until 4:30pm.

I always hit a wall around 2pm and curse either the dogs or roosters for keeping me up at night.. when in all reality it is my fault for checking my phone instead of going right back to sleep. It’s hard, because all the people I love are up at 2am and it’s the perfect time for me to catch up with them.. so I’m always inclined to check my phone. Today I got espresso in a can from 7/11 on my lunch break and it helped so much! I think I will continue to do that.

Yesterday a group of the other volunteers and I started a Workout Club! So when classes are over at 4:30pm we work out for a half hour or so.. I then sometimes rush to the cute coffee shop by the temple or just bike around until the sun starts to set, because I want to be outside in the sun as much as possible. So I end up home around 6:30pm, eat dinner, shower and then start my homework and lesson prep for the night. Which, I can’t even go into because it is a lot. But basically next week I start my Practicum which involves teaching English a total of 14 hours to 5th and 6th graders. (I’m slightly terrified since I have NO teaching experience, but Peace Corps has given us some great outlines).

This Saturday is American Day which the Volunteers have to plan out. There’s 30 some of us and we are each bringing one family member. Food/Activities and etc all have to be planned out. I start teaching on Tuesday of next week, might I add. And then on top of all that my Mock MidTerm Test for Thai Language is next week. Needless to say, I am tired.

Not to mention my Facebook is flooded with news of Trump and the situations back home, which weighs so heavy on my heart. I can’t even begin to express how sad and shocked I am about it all. America is a nation completely built on immigrants. So many have worked hard to get where they are today, my parents included. I would not be where I am today had they not immigrated to America in the 80’s. I certainly wouldn’t be in Thailand serving for the Peace Corps. So my heart aches with every story I read and I can’t help but worry about what the state my country will be in when I return in 2 years. All I can do is show the people of Thailand what it means to me to be an American. I will be giving. I will be kind. I will share my English knowledge with them and I will do all I can to show them that we are all human and more similar than different.

It’s all been a lot to handle. This past week it finally started getting to me. I cried myself to sleep the other night. But don’t feel bad for me. I like to cry. It was a good release. I signed up for all of this. I did. The workload, the effort.. I knew it would be a challenge.

I was asking fellow volunteers how they felt about the workload this week, in preparation for our teaching next week. I got a lot of mixed feelings, lots of comments on stress, eye rolls and etc. But one volunteer stuck out to me in particular and told me how she was literally just living in the moment. The current moment being that she was just concentrating on packing up her backpack and heading home. I realized right then that I wanted to be there, too. In the moment.

Jai Yen Yen translates literally to “Cool Your Heart.” My very first interaction with Peace Corps staff consisted of a conference call a week or so after Thanksgiving last year. That is where I first heard this phrase and it has resonated with me since then.  I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind and let all of the constant activity in my life and stressful situations back home get to me. Today I am deciding to stop all of that. I’m going to make a promise to myself to live in the moment. I wouldn’t of put myself in this situation if I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I live for the challenge. I love to push myself. I wanted this experience so that I would grow as a person.

So from this day forward I am deciding to Jai Yen Yen, live in the moment and take everything day by day. Two years is a long time. But one day at a time? I can do that. Definitely.

Although this has been a tough experience and I know it may only get tougher, I find myself feeling more and more at home in Thailand. I’m no longer scared to ride my bike around town alone because I know if I get a flat tire or something the people in my community will rush to help me. My host mom is very kind, feeds me great food and enjoys my company when I have the time. We sit by her beauty salon near 7/11 and talk to all the locals and laugh and laugh. My language group is so much fun, we have such a good time learning.. 4 hours rush right by. My fellow volunteers are a joy to be around.

Overall, I am happy. There are good moments and there are bad. So is life. I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I was riding my bike back to class today, enjoying the sun and the breeze and it hit me.. I live in Thailand! Like, what? How? Do you ever sometimes just feel so happy that you start to laugh and cry and everyone probably thinks you’re a nutcase but in that moment you couldn’t be happier? Well, that’s me. The happiest nutcase in town. It used to happen to me when I lived in San Diego and would drive past the Ocean at sunset, or when I was front row at the concert of my favorite artist. Or in my hometown after a good night spent with my best friends or family. These are the moments in life I truly live for. I could cry right now just thinking about it. My heart is so full.

If you’ve gotten this far in my post I thank you. I’m sorry it was a bit heavy. I will post more pictures soon, I promise.

So until next time..
Peace, Love & Thai!
-Ang 🙂

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