Bianca Henao, 131 TESS
Hello and welcome!
The purpose of this series is for us volunteers to recognize the bad-ass women in our lives at site. Whether it’s the noodle lady who keeps us from starving or a leading lady in our community, we want them to be recognized. Puu-ying is the Thai word for female/girl/woman; therefore, “Puu-Ying Power” is simply the embodiment of the powerful females who have inspired, loved and moved us.
To begin this series, here is a look at the females at my site whom I have dubbed as my girl gang. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by women close to my age; my next door neighbors have four daughters all whom I began calling my host sisters after just a month at site. Their ages range from 18-27, and each of them embodies “Puu-Ying Power” even down to the three-year-old daughter named Madee. They are all independent, loving, ambitious and fun. Upon becoming their neighbor and host cousin, they immediately welcomed me with open arms, and I felt like the “fifth sister” almost instantly. They include me in their day trips to the city or work, make sure I’ve eaten more than enough each day, and keep me updated on the gossip or environment of my site. They have done more than just accelerate my integration, make me feel included and welcome, and help me with my Thai; they have become my family. My service wouldn’t be the same without our inside jokes, the Thai karaoke lessons, shopping trips, and beers had while discussing ex-boyfriends. In fact, I don’t know how I could have survived the first few months of being an adolescent child in a new world without them. I’ll never forget my first night at site when I had to set up my mosquito net and make my bed with the help of my host sister; my fears and insecurities slowly faded away. At home, I’m used to being the big sis and making sure everyone is good to go. Here in Thailand, I can finally say I have big sisters who I love just as much as my own.
Kroy hak jao duu!
(I love you in Isaan dialect)