Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD
A few months ago, I was thinking of a clever Sticky Rice Magazine theme and it dawned on me: “Finding Love in The Peace Corps.” Many people in our cohort 130 had been nurturing strong relationships, both romantic and close friendships, so I thought it would be cool to spotlight those special connections that have impacted volunteers throughout their service. I started by reaching out to a couple in our cohort and they happily agreed to be the first to highlight their journey in having found love while serving in the Peace Corps. As I was reaching out to other couples and close friends, I decided that I, too, wanted to highlight my love story here in Thailand. Although it looks different because it was not discovered here, it has been one of the greatest factors in my success thus far as a volunteer.
Introducing My Love in the Peace Corps:
I met my husband, Gabe, 7 years ago while we were both serving as AmeriCorps volunteers in Texas. We obviously are fans of the volunteer missions! We began dating a year after that, moved to Denver, got engaged, and are now approaching our third year of marriage.
One night, a few months into our marriage, my husband walks into our dark bedroom (where I was laying on the memory foam mattress that I miss dearly attempting to fall asleep) and asked me what I thought about joining the Peace Corps. Without hesitation, I burst into excitement and screamed, “Yessssssss!” The following morning we began researching programs, decided on Thailand, and applied right away. While most people were asking us when the babies and house were coming, we were planning our next adventure. We interviewed individually, and then as a couple. We were invited to serve, endured a grueling medical clearance process, passed a legal clearance, quit our jobs, sold our new car, gave away most of our material possessions, said goodbye to our family and friends with tears in our eyes, and downsized our life to two bags in pursuit of something greater than ourselves in less than one year’s time.
While I have found challenges abroad in fighting for my individual needs and identity outside of my husband, or comparing my husband’s work and support systems to my own (we work on two different PC projects with two different teams), I could never imagine doing this alone. We all experience feelings of homesickness and inadequacy, yet Gabe and I have each other to come home to and process with. When one person is feeling down, the other is cheering you on to the finish line. When one falls ill and has to travel to the major city 12 hours away, we are not doing this alone. On pitch dark nights when the electricity is out, and all we hear is questionable noises, or when we face off with a spider as big as a hand, a rat hanging from the roof, or a snake as long as a body, I have often looked at Gabe and said, “I could not imagine how the volunteers who live alone do this.”
16 months later and this journey has been one of the most powerful occurrences in our marriage — and most importantly our friendship. We have learned to better communicate with one another, to endure storms in life as a team, and are understanding the importance of working together against the problems that arise in life. We have been forced to be creative in ways we’ve never had, for instance date night often looks like playing Scrabble in gym clothes at our local restaurant over a class of cheap sugary wine. Although it’s not some fancy occasion in a fancy dress and suit in the city, like it once was in the States, what matters is we have one another and we don’t need much to make time and show appreciation for our loved one. We have had time to breathe and lay out the future we imagine upon returning to the States, as well as, incorporate time to be intentional about working out and cooking meals together — something we never had done when we were absorbed with our demanding careers.
Prior to be Peace Corps, I don’t think we were ready to start a family because God wanted us to experience more selflessness, strength, and growth in order to better serve our communities and families when we return home. I wake up daily and thank God for blessing me with my husband and lifelong friend. I would have never imagined 7 years ago when I met him that morning in Austin, TX that we would be living as volunteers in Thailand, as husband and wife, holding each other down, as we serve others.