It’s been about a week and a half since I moved into my new rental. The space, although entirely too big for one person, has given me a lot of comfort. Perhaps the concept of Independence is all too American. That being said, I love living on my own. Not to say my host family was bad to live with. Quite the opposite in fact, they were wonderful. But at the same time, very busy and half of them lived in other places, so I was basically alone in someone else’s home. Now, I am alone in my home.
I put up pictures of my friends and family on my walls. I assembled my tiny, sketchy kitchen to have a toaster oven, crockpot, electric stove.. and NO rice cooker. I’ve deemed the huge downstairs space my Hula Hoop Room. The roosters wake up me up at the perfect time to get ready for my 5km bike ride to school. And it all is starting to slowly feel like home. Now I just need to get my huge tie-dye tapestry sent to me..
Every morning I stop at my morning market around 7:15 to get some Dim Sum for breakfast before I make my way to school. The seller has come to expect me, he gets a huge smile on his face when he shows up and has started to yell “Hello!” from afar.
This morning I was walking back home from the morning market and came across a house of community leaders and others eating a huge breakfast feast. One of them recognized me and insisted I sit and eat with them. What followed was a lot of laughs, spicy food and feeling like a part of my community. It was totally unexpected and absolutely wonderful.
I look forward to my bike rides to and from school as more and more people zoom past on their motorcycles and give me their warmest smiles. My students are little cuties that always smile, wave and scream “HELLO!” at me, whether I’m riding my bike into school or around town.
The other day I was going to teach Pratom 2 (equivalent to 2nd grade) when a bunch of the Pratom 3 kids tried to corral me into their room to teach them. The fact that they actually wanted to learn English with me gave me a sense of something that I was wondering if I’d ever find. A sense of purpose? Perhaps. Whatever it was, it felt great and it made me love them even more than I already do.
The Anuban kids (equivalent to Kindergarteners) have learned how to say “Good morning teacher!” quickly followed by “I’m fine thank you and you!” Maybe they don’t know what they’re saying but the fact that they have come out of their shells to yell it at me with so much excitement whenever they see me gives me so much joy. They’re so cute.
I’m starting to feel less like a foreigner and more and more like a part of this community.. I go to my coffee shop every other day, I eat french fries at the restaurant next door, I talk to the locals at the market, I get fried chicken from my favorite food stand.. everyone smiles and acknowledges me. My favorite coffee shop owner gives a friendly honk as he scooters by me while I’m biking around. All these little things make me feel so at home.
Although some days can be hard, the thought of going home early and leaving these people is even harder. It’s the genuine kind and caring nature of the Thai people in my community that keep me here. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger here, like I belong. And I’m willing to stick it out the 2 years in hopes that I can give back to them the kindness and generosity they have shown me and will continue to show me.
Is that not what life is about? Being open minded and welcoming and kind? That’s how I hope to portray my life, anyways. Despite all the crazy things going on in this world, there are still loving, kind hearted people that deserve nothing but the same back.
Until next time,