Articles

Never Thought I’d Be Into ___ Until I Joined Peace Corps

Check out what a few Sticky Rice staff members thought they would never be into until they joined Peace Corps.

Ali Talwar, 130 TESS

I never thought I’d be a proponent of Chaco’s before the Peace Corps. I used to make fun of my friend who wore them, but I now wear them every second of everyday and tell other people they should too!


Andrea Aribe, 130 YinD

I second Ali Talwar on the footwear; I rock a pair of Crocs, and I am eternally grateful for them.


Ashley Resurreccion, 130 TESS

I’m 1000% type A, and that’s not an exaggeration. Once my mind is set on a goal, I put all my energy into it and never deviate. My Peace Corps journey is a testament to that as I leap from teaching at school and camps to celebrating events and racing in marathons. I rarely invite time for slacking, less imposed by someone or something else that gets in my way. So, I never thought I’d be into bus rides until I joined Peace Corps.

They’re much cheaper than a flight or taxi, and typically more roundabout, but they allow me the time to calm down and reflect. These transition periods also help me grow, such as when I work on my laptop or indulge in my books and journal. I even make new friends in transit, enjoy snacks, or simply nap until I reach my destination. I wouldn’t be sane without them.


Caitlin Navratil, 131 YinD

Never thought I’d be into “forced fun” until I joined the Peace Corps.

“Forced fun,” you know the concept – you’d rather do anything else than attend this family dinner, this co-worker luncheon, this weekend hangout. My eyelids weigh a million pounds, I have a Netflix show that’s calling my name, and my introverted energy tank has been running on “e” for a while now.

At home, I could excuse myself – I’m an adult, after all. Heck, I could get in my car and leave the party, the dinner, the situation that was draining my energy.

Here, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been 98% already napping and totally done talking with people, but still had an entire evening of socializing left. Regularly, I have to rally the troops (my energy), mount the stallions (my bike), and set off to battle (the impending forced fun time).

Somehow, after all my internal protesting, I always end up looking around the table at faces who didn’t have to love me but do, at kids who now climb all over me when they used to hide, at co-workers who still make sure there’s something not spicy I can eat, and I smile. The fun was forced, yes. But the love was not.

And somehow, that makes all the difference.


Carissa Anderson, 130 YinD

Before Peace Corps, never did I think I’d be into ice in my beer.


Chukwuma Osuji, 131 YinD

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Never thought I’d be into frog soup until I joined Peace Corps. When I look to the evening sky and see the rain clouds incoming, I get excited and not because I get to go mudding on my bike the next morning, but because the abundance of frogs that will be available. As the rain starts pouring, we all sport our head lamps and the hunt begins for frogs; we do so to avoid the market price at 300฿ per kilo. I’ll have to say, I was taken aback when I was first presented a bowl of frog soup my first month at site however, for the goal of integrating I dove in. It tasted like chicken and the rest was history. Never thought I’d be into frog soup before I joined Peace Corps, now I cannot see myself turning down a bowl.


Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD

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Never thought I’d be into women entrepreneurship until I joined Peace Corps. Working in education has always been my thing, however, I feel it’s time for a change after eight years. Since coming to PC, I have tapped into this creative side through teaching yoga, writing, studying holistic wellness, and making things like jewelry. I’m excited to play and see where this entrepreneurial spirit takes me.


Gabe Reid, 131 TESS

I’d never thought
I’d spend countless hours with the coffee shop
Coolin’ off like a used coffee pot
Hung out with your krop krua, spending mommy’s baht
Bonded in the rain or when it’s soggy hot
You’ve introduced me to new friends and countless grins
Connected me with endless projects and new prospects
Helped me decompress in the mist of much stress
From the lattes to the posse, I will miss you, Wiang Haeng Coffee Shop


Ian Tramm, 131 YinD

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Something I never thought I’d be into until I joined Peace Corps? Well I guess the first thing that comes to mind is my fellow volunteers. I know maybe that sounds a bit callous, but before PST, before staging, before I had taken any flights or even had the tickets for them, I had always imagined Peace Corps to be somewhat of a solo undertaking. I knew that I’d be working with local nationals, but in my mind, I pictured having fairly minimal interaction with other volunteers; I had mentally prepared myself for that. As it turns out, that was pretty far off the mark. At this point in my service I really can’t imagine what it would have been like to have gone through it all on my own. In the seven months I’ve been here I’ve built a support network of friends and peers that I trust and respect, people with whom I’ve traveled, worked, written poetry, made music, commiserated, laughed, cried, and celebrated. I’ve met some of the most interesting and genuine people that I’ve ever encountered, people that be it not for Peace Corps would likely have never crossed my path. It seems in two hundred words I’ve gone from callous to sappy, and maybe all this is just a symptom of being so freshly post reconnect, but I think maybe it’s not. I think maybe I’ve met people here that will continue to be my friends long after our service has ended, people who will remain in my life, and I in theirs, for maybe quite some time. I think maybe this thing that we’re all doing together is a relationship forge of sorts that superheats and welds us together in a fashion entirely unique to this experience. I get asked frequently at site if I’m lonely here in Thailand, if I miss home, if I miss my friends. And I always say no, because I think maybe I’ve found all that here as well.


Kevin Lentz, 131 YinD

I never thought I’d be into riding bikes until I joined the Peace Corps. There are plenty of tired jokes about the relationship between a PCV and their bike. Most of them focus on the PCV’s or bike’s limitations and end up disparaging the bike, but I’ve come to appreciate the freedom it provides. It is one of my few chances to get exercise, listen to music, and go wherever I want without question here. Maybe, this will change when I get back to the US and can drive again, but for now, I treasure my bike rides and couldn’t imagine life without it.


Megan McNelis, 131 TESS

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Natalie Heinitz, 131 YinD

I never thought I’d be into… rice until I joined the Peace Corps. I mean, I’ve eaten rice before in the states. I always enjoyed it, but the idea of eating it three times a day was not something I expected to fully and willfully embrace once I got to site. I eat rice for breakfast, I eat it instead of noodles for lunch, and I eat it for dinner, usually with kai dao (fried egg). My newfound love for rice has filled a dietary gap I had back home, and my community loves how much I love it too.


Neil Pickus, 131 YinD

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I never thought I’d be into waking up before 5 a.m. regularly until I joined the Peace Corps. I’m still not really into it, but I’ve learned to accept it as a fact if service. Whether it’s chickens, monks, the heat, or a bpai tiao (travel), I am regularly pulled out of bed before 5 a.m. and often am not even sure why. I’ve always been more of a night owl so this “early bird gets the worm” thing is entirely new to me. Ultimately, it is significantly less hot at 5 a.m. and after more than half a year in country, my natural alarm clock has finally figured out to wake me up before the chickens start screaming. That being said, I haven’t quite figured out the going to bed early part yet… there’s just so much catching up with friends and books and Netflix.


Shannon Murphy, 131 TESS

Never thought I would be into self-care until I joined Peace Corps.

In the United States, my life was go, go, go. Every second I had was dedicated to some form of work, and then, my self-care was sleep. A luxury for me was deep conditioning my hair. I often felt guilty spending precious time on taking care of myself. Here in Thailand, I have enough free time to explore the joy that is self-care, and from that, I am so much happier. I find my weekends being spent making my own conditioners, oils, and scrubs. I have found the time to delve deeper into my own spiritual beliefs and have become much surer of them, and through that, more at peace with myself. I spend my mornings enjoying bomba and burning sage, or grinding eggshells for powders. I practice a form of Santeria and Yoruba for those who don’t know. I have found that this time that I dedicate to myself has made me better for my community. I am happier and have more energy for my students, and they appreciate it, but most importantly, I appreciate it.


Stephen Bubenheim, 131 TESS

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Until I joined Peace Corps, I never thought I’d be into running around with third graders whom I teach every day. Being greeted by a class full of smiles and excited voices yelling “Teacher Sateep!” has made Peace Corps the best job I’ve ever had.


Read previous contributions to writing prompts from volunteers.

1 reply »

  1. Good idea to have the topic as “I never thought I’d be into..” And, a fascinating range of topics of what one never thought they would be into.

    I never thought I would be into driving a motorcycle until I joined PC. In fact taking the train to Bangkok and buses around to visit one’s projects were in fact more fun ways of meeting Thai people, other than one’s co-workers.

    I am happy to be following the thoughts of this generation of PCVs.

    Tony Zola, Peace Corps/Thailand, 1970-72, Group 32, Community Development/Agriculture – Nongkhai

    Like

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