Logan K. Cox, 131 YinD
And so it begins! 23 more days until we, group 131, set off for the adventure of a lifetime in Thailand. 23 more days of cheese, flannel shirts, and frizz-free hair. 23 more days in this beautiful country and most importantly, 23 more days with friends and family. My emotions have run the gamut since I applied for Peace Corps back in April but in these final moments before departure, I am overwhelmed with excitement, gratitude and good bit of nervousness.
The last eight months I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about what “home” means to me. Is it a city? A dwelling? A feeling I get? Before leaving for Thailand I wanted to spend some time with my parents in Pennsylvania. So, in August I left Providence, R.I. after five magnificent years. I moved out of my sweet little apartment and left my friends, my beloved boyfriend Jordan, and the giddy feeling I got every time I crossed the Henderson Bridge into the East Side. Beyond its cultural celebrations and world class restaurants, Providence is where I began building my identity and allowing myself to flourish with each step I took beyond my comfort zone. In these ways, PVD was home. It was both the place where I laid my head at night and the place where I felt at peace.
But here I am, living in Pennsylvania for five months and gearing up for a move to Thailand. So where is home now? Despite how little nostalgia I have for the state of Pa., in this moment, home is right here. It is in the warm embrace of my mom and dad and in the house where my sister and I grew up. This time with my parents has been a remarkable gift and I will call upon the memories we’ve made during times of challenge and uncertainty in Thailand. My geography will change but I will forever have a home inside the love of my parents.
The thought of moving away from my family — yet again — invokes a similar emotional dichotomy to the one I experienced the day I left Rhode Island. I knew at the time that leaving was the right thing to do but still, I felt a tremendous sense of loss. Sure I squealed like a schoolchild when I reunited with our family dog but to this day, I long for a walk on PVD’s Blackstone Boulevard or a night out with Jordan at our favorite restaurant. My emotions were, and continue to be, at odds with one another and I think this is reminiscent of the way I’m feeling about Peace Corps as a whole. Excited but sad. Confident but nervous.
I’ve spent the last several months learning all I can about Thailand — the culture, the food, the social norms. I’ve read dozens of blogs, berated my Thai colleagues with questions, and connected with RPCVs who served there. But no matter how much I study, there is always a level of ambiguity when moving to a new place — and Thailand is an entirely new place to me. Uncertainty is the single most unnerving part of this adventure but it is also the most exhilarating. As an extrovert I process things externally so the idea of losing easy access to my English-speaking support system around me is a little unnerving. But having said that, in time I know I’ll find my place among my cohort and indeed among my community, and I’ll find other ways to process the changes happening around and within me. After all, if Rhode Island was home because I experienced personal growth and Pa. is home because people who love me are there, then the logic follows that Thailand will, in time, become my home too. The climate and the insects will surely take some getting used to but even the bugs are part of the adventure — and I can’t wait to get started!
To Group 129, WELCOME HOME! Thank you so much for all of your support and for sharing your wisdom and experiences. To the Peace Corps Thailand staff and Group 130, thank you for your encouragement and I can’t wait to meet you! And to my new family in Group 131, enjoy these final weeks with your families, happiest of holidays, and I’ll see you in Los Angeles in t-minus 23 days!
Read Logan’s previous articles and contributions.