Gabriel Reid, 130 TESS
Right off the bat, trainees begin the intense process of cultural immersion. We all start with two strikes against us because none of us know Thai and we are all strangers to the culture. To overcome these obstacles, we go through grueling doubleheaders for 3 months; Language training then technical training and technical training then language training.
And not just our American Monday through Friday either. Saturdays, we were thrown curve balls by the training staff with everything from cooking to acting and games to dances. It was exhausting because we were always on deck, but it improved all of our batting averages in the long run.
Did I forget to mention those sessions that went into to extra innings? We didn’t always agree with the “Thai Time” of things, but we continued to play ball.
After Peace Corps Spring Training (PST) was complete, we were finally sworn into the Big Leagues — officially going from Peace Corps Trainees to Peace Corps Volunteers.
We sang our songs together then made road trips all across the country with our new teammates — though we will always play for the same team. At site, we quickly find out no one is batting a thousand and so we learn to adapt to the fastballs and the sinkers service throws at us.
We integrate with all of the fundamentals that were instilled in us to be successful. Every now and then, we realize that some of the preparation was off base, but for the most part, we could not have made it this far into the game without it.
When things get real rough, we touch base with other volunteers, family back home, and even staff to avoid striking out. And when we do strike out, we reflect on what we can improve that’s inside our control in order to take a more accurate swing next time.
On those serious conflicts that we have with our game, we have committees and support groups who will always go to bat for us. Whether someone has to intervene or staff has to make some mid game adjustments, we are grateful to have a team that wants us to excel as individuals.
Though we may not feel like champions all the time, by the time we make it to our Close of Service, hitting that gong will feel no less glorious than hitting a walk off homer for the World Series Trophy.
Even now, best believe my dear friends, in no less than a few of those kids and community members’ eyes, we are MVPs because of our sacrifice.
The day-to-day successes of seeing counterparts use some of our techniques and seeing the children improve their (language and life) skills keeps us going — and even make the (program) managers smile.
Whether we are just reaching first base integrating or rounding off to second with our eyes on the mid-service conference, COS feels just around the corner at third base and, even now, we can all say this experience has made us more well-rounded ball players before we make our way back home.
I’d venture to say 99% of us, or some figure in that ballpark, will never forget this all-star lineup and the indelible fellowship … that is only built through a high quality draft class … who signed up at the same time … to play the Peace Corps Ball Game!