Linzee Prescott, RPCV Group 126
Let me tell you how great it is to drive, how beautiful it is to go out and eat ANYTHING I would like at ANYTIME. However, let me remind you that the box wine is just as bad as yours in the Land of Smiles.
I should start off by saying: “CONGRATULATIONS,” to the 128s and “WELCOME,” to the 130s! Peace Corps Thailand was an experience like no other, with relationships that were life-altering, and experience that couldn’t have happened any other way. I remember the days of struggle, how lonely it could get at site, and attending events where I had no clue what was going on, but all of the sudden was the center of attention with a mic in my hand being told to talk… But I will forever remember my service: the AMAZING food, the sites of the beautiful land, all the people, and the friends that I made.
During my prep for my return home from Peace Corps, I reached out to a contact from a scholarship I had while at University about info for teaching jobs in the valley. He said he was the head of an HR department now and put me on the list of people to look out for in the coming months. Me being all Sabai Sabai about it, I finished up my travels and finally reached out to the district late-June where they were scrounging to fill their last 2 positions. I had an interview the following day and a contract by the next. The recruiter said he was waiting for my application since mid-March… oops! But it all worked out in the end. I’ve been home almost a year now, living in Phoenix, Arizona. Which is also just a car ride away from my folks up in Prescott, AZ. I’m teaching 5th grade in a Title One school, where students receive 100% free and reduced lunches. It’s definitely not the best neighborhood in town – with gunshots heard regularly and stories from children that their houses were robbed the weekend before – but as we finish up our 3rd quarter of school, I have really grown close to these kids.
I was very intimidated about getting back into teaching in the US, but the support around the school (and the fact that I can speak the same language as everyone on my team) has been amazing. It is incredible how many things I run into here where I’m like, “It wasn’t the best in Thailand, but at least the projectors didn’t over heat every 45 minutes,” or, “wow, I remember staying up for hours with the Curriculum Team members mapping out what we think is best to teach and in what order. I thought this stuff had been done in America already. Why am I doing this again?” So American schools are definitely not perfect, guys, but – with any luck – in the coming months we will all be packing weapons! What is more American than that? I get it, I shouldn’t envy those 128s who are staying to teach in BKK. Remember whatever you choose to do next, make sure it is what makes your heart happy! Do not settle for anything less that that.
A few things that I am most proud of in my first year of teaching is the fact that I integrate Thailand into my classroom. We have been studying the language and have learned greetings, a few verbs like eating, nouns like fruit, and the numbers to 25. My kids were really interested in how to tell their parents, “I love you.” That was my favorite lesson so far. I brought in fabrics, scarves, pahk-la-ma and pa-sin to give them some hands-on experience. I also use pictures of my students in Thailand and the many places I was able to visit as a chance for my students to learn something, while also taking a brain-break between academic topics. The most meaningful experience was the chance to live stream the funeral procession of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Would I say I miss Thailand? Oh yes. I miss the fact I could feed myself for under $5 a day and fly across the country and be on a beach in less than half of a day. I miss seeing my ajaans in Bangkok during PC med trips and trainings, I miss building relationships with the PC staff and the teachers I spent three years working with at Anuban Chokchai School in Chiang Rai, but the thing I miss the most is Khao Soi Gai. Just kidding. I miss my kids! By the third year teaching, I was at 5 schools weekly. I loved seeing how excited the students were to learn English with the “Farang”. I loved it even more when I was no longer the “Farang”, and I became their Kruu.
The best advice I can give for those 128s returning home is to keep in contact. Never forget those people that took care of you during your service. You meant so much to the community. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you have a banner hanging somewhere, or two, or three of them, with your face plastered all over it – mine is in the garage at my dad’s. I try to contact someone from Thailand once a week. It’s difficult, but how else am I going to keep my Thai? Especially since the language is used regularly in America…not. Your community wasn’t the only group who influenced your service, though. Reach out and keep in contact with those you served with, too. Don’t forget about your fellow RPCVs. You’ll find yourself calling them to practice language and reminisce about that one time. It is truly awesome to be a part of so many amazing people’s lives.
Best wishes to you all, and 128s have a safe travels on your way out of Thailand. 129s, you’re not done yet, but you’re halfway there. Miss you all, too. Keep doing beautiful things in the name of America. 130s, you’re surrounded by some amazing people. Absorb everything, relax, and take it a day at a time. Understand, before you do.