Articles

Tatted in Thailand: Crystal, McKenzie, & Hannah

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.


Crystal Carter, 130 TESS

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1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand,) you got it done.
I have a little mountain range on my left forearm. I got it on like the first night of the Reconnect conference. I got one taste of freedom from site and just decided “f*** it”. Kidding. I had been planning to get one in Kanchanaburi for weeks with another volunteer. We found Jo on Facebook a few weeks prior, and when we made it to his tiny room (tattoo parlor) it just all worked out.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
I think it’ll connect me to my PC service for the simple fact that I got it in Thailand for $30 in a room that I may have been too closed minded to approach in the states. (But you’ve been there.) Other than that, it’s definitely a connection to my home back in America. I’m from Las Vegas. I get up in a valley. CONSTANTLLYYY surrounded by mountains. And I often forget that comfort until I’m in a place that lacks mountains—such as Sisaket in Issan, my home here in Thailand.

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?
A mountain range itself or something from my home state has been on my mind for a while. While working at Disney World and then interning in Louisiana, I realized that my mountains mean too much to me. Home Means Nevada is our state song and our unofficially-official state slogan. And Nevada gets its name from a Spanish translation of Sierra Nevada, or Snow Capped Mountains. And home definitely means Nevada to me. Being around mountains is truly comforting. I don’t even have to be climbing them. Just seeing them is warm. I’m not sure if I’ll end up in Nevada, but it’ll always be home for sure, and this tattoo is a constant reminder of that for me. Also, it’s hella cute.

4. If you had to sum up the tattoo in one word what would that word be?
My one phrase would be “Home Means Nevada.”

 

Mckenzie Paterson, 129 TESS

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand,) you got it done.
My tattoo is the outline of a single wave on my ribs. I got it in Chiang Mai when many 129’s were together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
My tattoo is very much a reflection of who I am. Most literally because water has always been a significant part of my life. I grew up spending my summers in the water. It’s therapeutic, my meditation. More symbolically speaking, it’s the ebb and flow of my journey toward self-actualization. Most of my life I sought validation from others to fuel my confidence and belongingness. The Peace Corps experience is very much a journey of self-discovery. And a lot of that, for me, is learning real, raw, unconditional self-love.

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 was already taking steps on the path toward self-love, but then I stumbled upon this poem during the same week I was getting my scuba diving certification, coincidentally enough:

“remember this girl.
you are half sea.
no one ever asks the ocean
to quiet her storm,
so why do you keep apologizing for yours?”

It affected me quite unlike many others have. So my tattoo is an encouragement to unlearn what I’ve been taught to be sorry about and a reminder to live unapologetically in my truth and to love my fierce, vibrant, messy womanhood.

I’m not sure if I would’ve gotten it if I weren’t in Peace Corps. Although it’s a representation of who I am and not necessarily my Peace Corps experience, my experience has shaped me tremendously. So in an alternate reality, could there be a perfect storm of similar happenings and personal growth opportunities to inspire me to get it? Maybe…

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

Hannah Steffe, 130 YinD

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it.
My tattoo is in Thai and says “array-ga-dai”, which roughly translates into “anything”. I got it in Bangkok at a great place called Mimp Tattoo about three months into service. I had been researching them for a while and knew that at some point in my service I wanted to get a tattoo at their studio… I just didn’t know that it would be this one.  

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps Service?
My tattoo, as  before stated, means anything. I love it so much because, to me, it has multiple meanings. This word is something I would say on a regular basis the first couple of months at site when asked what I wanted to eat as a small form of rebellion. I could tell it was annoying to those people who asked, but when you don’t have your sarcasm down in a different language, it’s the little things you hold onto. I would say it directly connects me to my Peace Corps Service in that aspect. It also represents my secual orientation in one of the most roundabout ways possible, but hey, I think it’s pretty funny! I knew I would never get a tattoo in a language I didn’t know, so when I finally learned a different language, this is what happened. It is also a great reminder of my first few months in my new home.

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?
So I got this tattoo on a whim. I believe the conversation that sparked the idea happened about two hours before the needle was piercing my skin. The inspiration behind it was a ridiculous conversation between myself and other volunteers about our sexual orientations as they related to the word Bangkok. Another volunteer suggested that bisexuality could be expressed through the Thai word for anything, and thus my whim of a tattoo was born. I definitely would not have gotten this tattoo if I was not on this crazy journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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


Read about the other volunteers featured: Tatted in Thailand Series.

1 reply »

  1. I love the poem @Mckenzie! I was there when you got that tattoo and I didn’t know the power behind it. and @Hannah – araigadai is my favorite Thai word 🙂

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