Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD
Always say yes! It goes hand and hand with our Peace Corps Volunteer Community Integration Goal.
Asked to attend a community event? Say yes!
Asked to go on a trip with your host family? Go, even if you don’t know where they are taking you.
Asked to plan for an English Camp with 3 days notice and no budget? Say yes, be flexible, be resourceful, and most importantly, do it with a smile on your face.
Asked to go to the temple at 6am on the one day you get to sleep in? Say yes.
Asked to eat protein packed crickets? You got it! Say yes, as you might as well get the full experience of the community you have committed to serve for the next two years.
Asked to sing a song, do a dance with the neighborhood grandmothers, introduce yourself to hundreds of people in your basic Thai, to eat even though you are full? You get my point, say yes.
Many times when you keep a positive outlook and go with the flow of your community, things turn out to be not so bad. You could end up at the beach or a breathtaking waterfall. You could end up at a meeting for 2 hours where everyone is speaking in Thai and you have no clue what is going on.
You could initially be exhausted, but once you start singing and dancing with the “yais” (grandmothers), you realize this was just what you needed to lighten up and boost your energy.
No, I have not eaten the crickets, but I hear from other volunteers they are salty and “not too bad.”
And of course, anytime I go to the Buddhist temple with my host family or Thai friends, I can feel how happy it makes them to be able to share their place of worship with me — which is such an integral part of their everyday lives.
On the other end, short term notice for big projects, and being constantly “on” as the community volunteer can be energetically and emotionally depleting. This is why it is important for volunteers to put themselves on their schedules in order to be successful in this work. Americans tend to be very work driven and they aim to be successful in their academic and professional spaces. This is one of the things I truly respect about my country, but I also know that there has to be a balance between work and tending to your body, mind, and soul. Stress takes off years from your life, a disease of the spirit — not to mention one of the greatest factors in physical and mental illness. No one can serve others from an empty vessel for long.
So in honor of YOU, the volunteer, remember to also say yes to:
- Saying no, and maintaining your boundaries
- Drinking water
- Some form of daily stretching, meditation, and/or exercise
- Intentional breathe
- Setting specific time slots for when you don’t work
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating fruits and vegetables
- Mental health days
- Smelling the variety of flowers outside
- Asking for help
- Submitting that vacation request
- Taking a Saturday and Sunday morning to call/video chat all of your close friends and family
- Traveling to a nearby city for the weekend, alone, or to see your fellow volunteer friends, and indulge in your favorite American dishes (tacos anyone?) while speaking your native tongue
- Going nowhere, staying in your house, unapologetically
- Taking a day off from the week-long Songkran (water festival) activities
- Netflix binges
- Blasting your favorite music
- Wearing something that makes you feel like your true self
- Devouring a new book, or rereading one on your favorites
- Being vulnerable and acknowledging how things make you FEEL
Peace, love, light, Godspeed, and namaste!