Almost a years supply of rice for seven people and a dog.
Teaching my host sister how to bake cookies. Life is good.
In Thailand, there is a concept called “naam jai” or literally translated water heart. Generosity, kindness, bigheartedness cannot describe what this really means. It’s something Thai people are taught from birth, and they don’t even realize it is happening.
We are studying language at the local temple school, and the cook brings us coconut dessert and Pad Thai. “Oh that’s so kind of her.”
Our third language teacher gives our group a card and a cute pencil case upon signing in as official Peace Corps volunteers. “Kaseederak you are the best. Thank you.”
My site host family wants me to feel welcome and to travel our district. They plan a whole day and take me around to all the national parks, caves, and temples. They climb to the top with me even though I later learn they are afraid of heights. “Wanii sanuk mak. Kap kun mak ka.”
I meet the teachers at my smaller school, Ba Aa learns my favorite new fruit is mangosteen, and that afternoon two full bags of mangosteen appear in the teachers’ room. “Mankut arooi. Kap kun ka.”
How many cups of coffee or tea have I consumed because somebody else bought mine?
Mae Noy, the secondary English teacher at my smaller school, has adopted me as her daughter. I get a yeast infection, and she drives into the city for medicine. She buys me bananas and apples and brings them to my house. She tells me she is my family. She just cares. “Mae Noy kap kun ka.”
In Lamphun with my education office, one person buys donuts and shares with everyone. At the office, one person brings in fried bananas and shares with everyone. Somebody comes back from Indonesia, and they have fruit to share with everyone. Somebody comes back from a town an hour away, and they bring snacks for everyone. “kap kun ka, kap kun kap”
My host family just gives and gives…. “Kun jai dii mak.”
This week I worked with professors from Chiang Mai University at an English training.
“Did you have culture shock?” The lady asks on the first day.
I thought for awhile and finally answered, “Naam jai makes me feel so guilty.” Then all of my worries spilled out.
I have to actively think about how to repay all the generosity, but it’s so natural to Thai people. I want to be this kind, but I don’t know if I ever will. The thought that I am not fulfilling my end of the social bargain is always pressing on me.
On Thursday night after a day of English training, my day ended at a restaurant that resembled the Netherlands. I had just met the school director I was with. She wanted to practice her English, so she, Pii Nit, and I spent the evening using broken English and laughing. We spent the night becoming friends. It was nearing 10pm when we arrived after spending 90 minutes driving around Chaing Mai lost. We opened the menus, and I discovered the high prices for Thai standards. Because I was with a Director of a school, and she was old enough to be my mother, I knew in Thai culture I’d never be allowed to pay or contribute. When they asked what I wanted to order for our family style meal, I felt my chest squeeze in guilt. I told them I’m fine with anything, but they wouldn’t let that go, and insisted I pick one thing. This night could have ended like so many others, with me thinking my “thank you” can’t possibly be enough, but it did not. Half way through the meal the director gave me this:
“If I meet someone I like, I must do something nice for them today because tomorrow may never come.”
Thursday was one night I left feeling like a smile and a thank you was finally enough.
Friday the professor walked out at the end of our conference and parted with one last bit of Naam jai advice.
“Don’t feel guilty.”
Another volunteer came to visit my site this weekend, and my coteacher invited us to go to Lampang to “bpai tio”. Here are some pictures from one of our stops. It’s probably one of my favorite temples I’ve visited thus far.
WHEN I THINK ABOUT GETTING A JOB IMMEDIATELY AFTER PC
How to guarantee my customer loyalty
I ordered a chaa yen at the coffee stand across the street from school, put it in my bike basket, and then my bike-and tea- fell over. The lady made me a new one and didn’t charge me. Now I pretty much have to go back several times to “repay” her. Am I the only person who thinks this way?
Today a monk told me that I couldn’t be American because I didn’t have blue eyes.
I’m so over eating delicious, sweet, juicy mangos.
Spent yesterday at my host aunt’s village school. This is all the students from grades 1-6. There are about 65 and between 10-15 in a class. Teaching 14 first graders was such a pleasant change from my normal 37 fifth graders. Also, preschoolers are the best. Even when I told them I didn’t understand they dragged me by the hand and showed me what to do. Hanging out with little kids is so much easier than adults sometimes.