Every volunteer has a unique experience depending on the location, religion, and traditions of their site. Each month we will explore a new volunteer’s site through the eyes of a visiting volunteer to show how similar yet different serving in Thailand can be.
Keegan Small, 130 YinD
Abby Raver, 130 YinD
What did you do in the community while visiting?
We went to the city of Chaiyaphum, made merits (wai ja paa), we had dinner with her host mother, and then we marched in her communities parade amongst her Obato coworkers. The parade was lots of fun and made me feel apart of the community as everyone was so generous and kind. As one would guess, the parade gave ample opportunity for picture taking! We spent a day trip with her host mom and went to the beautiful Pha Hin Hgam national park where we shopped at the market before seeing breathtaking views over Isaan.
Describe the community.
Abby’s community is far different than mine. The houses are tight knit with little separation. Her community has many narrow streets that wind around town. Although she is in Isaan, it was a surprise of mine to witness how lush and green chaiyaphum was. It was beautiful, with mountains in the distance. She is about 10 minutes away from Amphur Chaiyaphum which is a quiet, yet, bustling city full of activity. Her community members were gracious and all the neighbors were quick to greet me with typical Thai gentleness.
Describe Abby’s school, teachers, and students.
Abby has multiple schools located near her house in her community. Surprisingly one of the schools is a highschool of M 4-6. I got to see some of abby’s students during the parade and after while we ate food. The students in typical fashion shined bright smiles and waved. They were very friendly and intrigued. I have previously met Abby’s counterpart at the first counterpart conference, she was still generous and even remember my name which was nice. Abby’s coworkers are eccentric, outgoing, and fun as witnessed in the parade.
What surprised you about Abby’s community?
I was surprised by truly how small and tight knit her community is. The houses are squished together in a very urban format, however, it really isn’t urban. Thailand and its people have a lot of pride, but I was surprised by the exuberant amount of pride for Chaiyaphum that her site showed.
Explain the similarities and differences between your site and Abby’s site.
The most striking similarities were simply how giving and friendly her community was. I showed up and people were incredibly eager to treat me as a guest and to make me feel at home. Much of the food is similar, because in Lamphun (my site) we eat Isaan food quite frequently. However, not all of it was the same. A big difference is just the structure of her community. It is tiny and squished together with many roads weaving in and out. My community is one road, with houses spread far apart. She is the first volunteer I met to have M 4-6, my site only has M 1-3, so it was different seeing older students. Her site is more similar than different though. Both sites have a knack for welcoming people, treating them as guests, and making sure they feel loved and cared for.
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