Ty Miranda, 127 YinD
For the past two years, I wrote a lot for Sticky Rice. I wrote about beauty, health, running, food, dogs, and more. I have also created videos for Have You Eaten Yet and it has brought me a lot of joy. So, here’s to my last article as a PCV.
I want to share with you a story from my Peace Corps experience. I met P’Dteng almost two years ago on one of my first days at site. He’s in his later forties and works at the Tessaban. He is a serious Renaissance man because he does everything. He works with the local ambulance/fire unit, he drives the Tessaban vehicles, he helps break down and set up for events, and he and his family work for the Tessaban food group. On my second day at site, P’Dteng laughed and giggled about teaching the “falang” how to make Kanom Jiin. And even though I didn’t understand anything this man was saying, he seemed like a pretty chill character.
Since that meeting, P’Dteng has been extremely helpful. He is always willing to drive me to the bus station or help me with an event. Often times I feel guilty for making him work so much in order to help me succeed. And whenever I go to an event where his family is making the food, they never forget to bag me up some leftovers. They don’t do it because I ask them; they do it because they worry about me starving. They always try to offer me more food or things to take home. It makes me feel guilty; again, because I know that they struggle yet are so gracious and giving.
A few days ago, I was in a meeting with Peace Corps and it was made clear that I would leave site on February 18. I think my people were trying to avoid the idea but it came up and it emotionally moved most of the people in the room. I think I cried about three times in that meeting. Word got out to P’Dteng and he approached me later that day. He asked about when I was leaving and what I was going to do in America. I explained my plans for graduate school and the trips Pie and I are planning on taking.
He then started tearing up. Now, Thais don’t normally show their emotions so blatantly. In my whole time here, I maybe have seen 2-3 Thais cry in front of others. But, here was this man that I have known for almost two years crying in front of me. I never imagined that he felt so connected to me. In all of our interactions, we talked about the most basic things like where I ate last or if I like Thai food. We never had any deep conversations, yet he’s crying about me leaving.
It made me realize that we don’t have any clue about the people we influence on a daily basis. We have no idea as volunteers the impact that our actions have on our community. At many times at site, I felt underappreciated and felt as if no one cared about the work I was doing. I was wrong. If the man who drives me everywhere and feeds me food is getting so emotional, I can’t imagine how emotional my counterparts and students are going to feel. I wish I could have seen this moment about a year ago when I was struggling at site. It would have given me the strength to continue forward without hesitation.
P’Dteng is one of about 100 people I interact with on a weekly basis. I encourage volunteers to think about the impact you may have on the people you can’t expect. You will truly understand the grander impact you are having. It’s not just about the camps and the English, it’s so much more. It’s an American taking two years out of their lives to live and work in a Thai community. It’s an American taking the time to understand Thais and their culture. It’s. So. Much. More.
Here’s a video I made about my service. Please keep trekking on folks.