Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD
Will I be able to drive?
It’s one of the many questions I think to myself as I look ahead to my reintegration into the United States in 2020. Not only are volunteers prohibited from operating a motor vehicle of any sorts, but the people of Thailand drive on the left hand side of the road and the steering wheels are built on the right side of the cars. Completely opposite from the American way of motor operation. Initially, when I got to my community, when riding with someone, I would often walk to the driver’s side on the right and whoever would be driving looked at me strangely and laughed. I would then explain for the hundredth time that I wasn’t drunk, but indeed still getting used to the passengers entry being on the left side of the car. Now that I am 8 months into integration, I am used to not driving, being a left side passenger, and people driving on the left side of the road. So I ask myself, “Will I be able to still drive when I return to the US?”
Will I “Wai” and “Sawasdee ka” people?
Much like Americans wave, shake someone’s hand, or say, “Hello,” as a form of greeting, the “Wai” and saying, “Sawasdee ka” in Thailand is the customary greeting. The “Wai” action consist of a slight bow with the hands pressed together in a prayer like fashion. I read somewhere that the “Wai” was once used centuries ago in Thailand to show that you don’t have a weapon. Today, it’s a form of respect —especially in the workplace or when greeting an elder or monk. The “Wai” and saying, “Sawasdee ka” (“Ka” if you identify as a female and “Krap” if you identify as male) was the first thing I was taught here. It’s now a daily habit of mine and I do it whenever I greet someone in the morning, and say goodbye to them for the day.
With that being said, “Will I accidently “Wai” and “Sawasdee ka” fellow Americans upon my return home? How awkward would that be?
Will I speak ThaiLish?
A few weeks ago I was talking on the phone with one of my best friends, Cassy. She is back in the States and I, casually, said, “Sabai Sabai” in response to her question. She laughed and said, “What is sabai sabai, girl, are you speaking Thai?” I laughed and explained that it’s an expression that’s sort of like: happy, chill, relaxed, or comfortable. Will I do this while ordering food back home? Or when shopping for a house? Or doing a job interview?
Will my friends and family know me? Will I know them?
The most serious question of them all. Geesh, will I even still know those closest to me? Daily, I watch friends and family get engaged, married, give birth to new life, buy new homes, obtain higher education, move into new career fields, and celebrate other joyous occasions. I am definitely missing in action, but, of course, life goes on and I know they are just as proud of me as I am of them. However, it still doesn’t take away from the sadness that comes with it, but I also knew I signed up for this when I committed my life to 2 years of service abroad. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of my family and friends visit here in Thailand over the next 2 years. Who will be first?
One of my greatest flaws is obsessing about the future. I know that none of these questions matter in the present nor are the answers to these questions within my control at this time. I know that life will continue to be an unpredictable ride, and trust, regardless of the outcomes, only growth can sprout from my Peace Corps service. Frankly, life is not intended to remain the same, so instead of resisting change, I am learning to embrace how my service will affect my life in the long run. Most importantly, I am appreciative of the opportunity I currently have to volunteer in the Land of Smiles.
Read Daylisha’s previous article Always Say Yes.