Jason Pagan, 128 YinD
Hustle (v): To have the courage, confidence, self-belief, and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life.
My name is Jason, I’m a Youth in Development volunteer from a little village called Brooklyn in New York City, now residing in the big city of Tasaton in Surat Thani province. I was asked to tell you guys how to adapt to serving in a region where it rains eight out of the twelve months in a year. My community has shown me a better response to this than anything I can think of, and it’s that you can’t stop the hustle.
The last two months have been the monsoon season in the south of Thailand, and many communities, including my own, have experienced heavy flooding. In the first week of January, Al Jazeera reported that over 700,000 people were affected. By January 10th, The Independent reported that at least 25 people were killed as result of the floods. In my community, there were sections that were only accessible by speedboat, and some houses near the river were swept away by rising water levels. However, throughout all of this, the people in my community did not stop their hustle, everyone kept working.
Overnight roads became popular fishing spots and everyone became a fisherman. My host mom traveled to the farm as much as she could to check on the crops and my host dad worked with the local EMS to assist flood victims; during his off hours, he would drive people around in his van. The Friday and Sunday markets, even though there were fewer vendors and more mud, never closed. My counterparts were out of the office every day traveling to flooded areas to assist with care package deliveries, helping schools move supplies to higher ground, and even cooking food for those affected. However, the best example of this philosophy probably came from my favorite place, Nong Chok School.
This past weekend I decided to go for a long bike ride since the skies are finally clear and water levels have gone down. I rode down to Ban Nong Chok, where the flooding affected the most people. When I got to the school I noticed that kids were there on the weekend which isn’t normal. A gentleman, who I assumed was waiting for his grandchild, came over to talk to me and as we were talking I noticed that the school was still surrounded by water. People at the school had made a bridge using tables and wooden beams in order to enter the building. I went upstairs and a teacher told me that since floods forced the school to close for 20 days, they needed to rush and get the students ready for O-Net and final exams. During my quick visit to the school, no one seemed upset or angry to be working on the weekend, everyone seemed happy to be there because even the kids know: you can’t stop the hustle.