Meghan McCabe, Sister of Peace Corps Volunteer Kayla McCabe
I have been lucky enough to have had several opportunities to travel the world. I have experienced different cultures, languages, and lifestyles and have formed relationships with people across the globe. Most of my travels, however, have led me to the large cities and the parts of the country catered to tourists. When I decided to travel to Thailand to visit my sister, Kayla, during her Peace Corps service, I knew I would be experiencing Thailand in a way that I had not experienced the other countries.
As I was preparing for my trip to Thailand, I was excited to see a new part of the world and I was excited to see my sister and what her life has been like for the past two years, but, for the first time before international travel, I was anxious. I was anxious about travelling to a country where I did not know the language; I was anxious about experiencing a culture completely different from anything I have experienced; I was anxious about the level of discomfort I knew I would experience when I entered a rural Thai community; I was anxious about the level of discomfort my presence might cause for the members of a rural Thai community. My anxiety was unfounded for two reasons: (1) I did not realize that my sister was viewed by the community members as a part of the community, not a visitor; and (2) the Thai people are some of the most welcoming people I have ever encountered.
The first time we drove into my sister’s village, was an unreal experience. Every road we drove down, everyone stopped and stared with a questioning look on their face. Who were these foreigners that were entering their village? The closer we drove to my sister’s home, the more anxious I became. However, as soon as Kayla stepped out of the song tao everyone’s demeanor changed. Kayla was a neighbor who was returning home from a vacation, not a stranger who was upsetting their daily life. She was greeted with smiles and waves and laughter.
I also had the opportunity to visit her two schools. All of her co-teachers and students greeted us with smiles, hugs and their best attempts at English. We were welcomed friends of Kayla who was now a friend, sister, mentor, and daughter. We easily blended into the multiple communities Kayla is a part of because of the relationships Kayla has fostered during her time in Thailand.
My short time in Thailand was incredible and it was a pleasure meeting the Thai people, a people who seem to find happiness in the smallest of life’s moments. I was also glad to discover that my sister has found a family abroad. She has truly found people who love and care for her.