Articles

Tatted in Thailand: Larissa, Bethany, Natalie, & Janet

Larissa Delgado, 130 YinD

During Group 130’s Reconnect Conference a lot of us throughout the two weeks got tattoos. Prior to that I had also heard of volunteers from Group 129 getting tattooed during their service. I’ve always loved tattoos because they can be spontaneous or well thought out, hold meaning to someone, and are essentially permanent works of art that people commit to on their bodies. The particular time and place in one’s life that someone decides to get a tattoo also intrigues me, and I believe that tattoos can help preserve your memory of where you were when you got it. So upon finally getting my wave tattoo in Kanchanaburi, I was very curious to hear the stories behind some of the tattoos that other volunteers had gotten while in Thailand, and if there were any connections to their service as Peace Corps Volunteers. After hearing many experiences we’ve decided to start a series featuring PCVs and their tattoo stories. The following is my story, along with the first few participants that have agreed to share their own.


Larissa Delgado, 130 YinD

image3

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where you got it done.
My tattoo is a wave with two crests located on the outside of my left arm, close to my wrist. I got it on our last Sunday in Kanchanaburi, by the same artist (Jo) that had tattooed some of the other 130 volunteers. I went with my friend Janet who also got a tattoo from him. Jo is a perfectionist with his work so the tattoo came out beautifully.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
My tattoo has a few meanings to it, and it’s very personal. It’s my faith tattoo and my Peace Corps tattoo. The theme of my Peace Corps service so far has been the phrase “ride the wave.” In other words get through the highs and lows of your service, and later your life, because they one day shall pass. As a Christian, I believe that I get through the waves of my service and life only by God’s help. Lastly, I’ve always felt super connected to water, and grounded by it, so I think that a wave is a perfect choice. I think the tattoo itself is grounding because I can look at it anytime, and remind myself to “ride the wave.”

3. What inspired you to get it, and do you think that if you weren’t a Peace Corps Volunteer, you would have still gotten it?
I had been thinking about a wave tattoo a little prior to coming here because of my connection to water, and the analogies I find between my faith and water. But back in the states I was thinking of a small wave crest on my wrist below my palm. It would be simple, and easily hidden. Although there was some meaning to it, I didn’t feel as strongly. However after getting through some lows in Peace Corps, and also appreciating the highs, I felt inspired to not only commit to really getting the wave tattoo, but to getting a bolder version. So I chose a bigger wave and a more visible placement.

4. If you had to sum up the tattoo in one word what would that word be?
Bold & Faith.

 

Bethany McHugh, 130 TESS

image9

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where you got it done.
My tattoo is on my wrist, it’s small flowers. The flowers aren’t really any particular flower although they kind of represent lavender. Every time someone asks me what kind of flower it is I say, “dawk maai” and they say “ohh” pretending they know what that is until I tell them that just means “flower” in Thai. It’s pretty funny every time, haha. I got my flower the first or second night of Reconnect in Kanchanaburi.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
I just love flowers and thought this tattoo was cute. Although I don’t have any deep meaning attached to it, it was a fun experience to get this in Thailand and something to always remember my first 6 months of growth and beauty in Peace Corps!

3. What inspired you to get it, and do you think that if you weren’t a Peace Corps Volunteer, you would have still gotten it?
Nothing really inspired me honestly. I just love flowers and had already wanted a small flower wrist tattoo and wanted to get it with my friend. Reconnect was a good opportunity! But yeah, I would’ve gotten it either way probably.

4. If you had to sum up the tattoo in one word what would that word be?
Cute & Simple.

 

Natalie Garro, 129 TESS

image20

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where you got it done.
It’s a small tattoo on my left forearm that says: “VIVA.” On my last day in Chiang Mai for Songkran, I met this guy (named Michael) from Switzerland. We spent the day running around, going to the movies, getting massages, we went to a concert, out for gelato, to a bar, dancing at the night market, to the underground art bazaar, and eventually we ended up on the Farang street around 1AM. At some point during the day, Michael joked that we should get tattoos, and at some point during the day, he told me about some Swiss cultural customs, which led us to the drinking toast – “VIVA!” (I know “viva” means “live” in like 5 languages, but the tattoo specifically refers to this toast, which is Romanish) – which we decided was perfect for a tattoo. So we found the last open tattoo shop, walked in, wrote out “viva” on a couple slips of scratch paper, swapped handwriting samples, handed them over, and… VIVA!

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
Honestly, at the time, I was in the middle of my mid-service crisis, and I was struggling a lot with my mental health and self-love. I woke up crying a lot, and it was hard to get out of bed most days. My whole life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and there are days I don’t want to be alive, and that’s where I was at. That’s where I’d been that morning before our adventure began, and the whole day was so full of joy and laughter – it was the first time I’d really felt like MYSELF since I’d come to Thailand. Viva seemed like the perfect thing to tattoo on my body on a day I’d woken up wishing I hadn’t.

3. What inspired you to get it, and do you think that if you weren’t a Peace Corps Volunteer, you would have still gotten it?
I mean, the inspiration came from my interactions with this human who had been a stranger about 14 hours prior; and no – I definitely wouldn’t have gotten it if I hadn’t been in Peace Corps.

4. If you had to sum up the tattoo in one word what would that word be?
If I had to sum up the tattoo in one word, it’d be YOLO. Hahaha!

 

Janet Peña, 130 YinD

image17

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand,) you got it done.
I got a tiny inverted triangle. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision while I was at Reconnect in Kanchanaburi. Originally, I was just trying to find a place to get a piercing and then somehow I ended up with a tattoo.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
In the grand spectrum of tattoo meanings, triangles mean a lot of things. For me, my tattoo has a bit of a dual meaning. The meaning of a triangle can vary based on orientation and because mine is inverted it is symbolic in representing woman/femininity. Also, historically, the triangle was used to identify and single out homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps, but in the 1970’s it was reclaimed as a symbol for Queer resistance. With that being said, my identity as a bisexual woman is substantially important to me and this tattoo felt like a good homage to those identities. Especially considering that during my service I’ve definitely felt challenges to my womanhood and sexuality. So, although my tattoo doesn’t necessarily connect to my Peace Corps service in any obvious way, I am very happy that I did it during this time in my life.

3. What inspired you to get it, and do you think that if you weren’t a Peace Corps Volunteer, you would have still gotten it?
The idea of this tattoo has been sitting in my head for awhile, but I will say that seeing all my fellow volunteers get their tattoos definitely inspired me to finally pull the trigger. I probably still would’ve gotten it sometime down the line, but it felt nice to share this experience with my fellow PCVs.

4. If you had to sum up the tattoo in one word what would that word be?
Reflective.

image19


Check back next month as we talk to more volunteers and share the stories behind their tattoos.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s