Articles

Tatted in Thailand: Melody, Laura & Shannon

Larissa Delgado, 130 YinD

During Group 130’s Reconnect Conference in 2018, many of us decided on getting tattoos. Prior to that week, I also heard of Group 129 volunteers who got 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 people commit to on their bodies. The particular time and place in one’s life someone decides to get a tattoo also intrigues me, and I believe that tattoos can help preserve 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 tattoos other volunteers got while in Thailand and how the tattoos connected to their service as Peace Corps volunteers. After hearing many stories, we decided to start a series featuring PCVs and their tattoo stories.


Melody Emplit, 131 TESS

TT1

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done.

I got this tattoo at Best Sure Tattoo in Chiang Mai in May. I got it in red because all my other tattoos are in black, and I wanted something different.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?

This is a Buddhist tattoo for luck. The eight points represent each day of the week (Wednesday having two) and give luck in any direction the wearer travels in addition to warding off spirits. The three circles in the points represent the Buddha.

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 like the meaning of the tattoo, but I’m not sure that I would’ve gotten it if I wasn’t a volunteer here.

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

Significant.


Laura Hyde, 130 YinD

TT4

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done.

My tattoo is a sternum piece I got done last month in Bangkok from a tattoo artist that another PCV had recommended. Since tattoos are so intimate, and since I have had bad experiences in the past, I wanted to find a tattoo artist that is good and also a woman. I also wanted to just support women as well because the gender pay gap is real.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?

My tattoo is a flower with diamond-shaped lines overlapping. I know this flower is often used to symbolize Thailand. In my front yard, we have two trees with these flowers on them. My host mom loves this flower. This tattoo represents my time here in Thailand, but also my time here in this home with this host family.

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 would have not gotten this tattoo if I didn’t serve in Thailand.

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

Hygee.


Shannon Murphy Berrios, 131 TESS

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?

My tattoo is a small coqui, which is the frog, and practically, the national symbol of Puerto Rico. I got it done in the Taíno petroglyphic style, so it is a really delicate simple tattoo. One thing that is known about the coqui is that they have a loud call that all Puerto Ricans can recognize. They literally say “co-qui.” All night. The sound of thousands of them is the lullaby of every Boricua. This explains its placement for me as well; my coqui lays right on my shoulder, so that it can always sing, and I can always see him. I got it done recently in Koh Samet during the big PC retreat. It was pretty random with not a lot of pre-thought. On that week, I finally got to hang out with all of the other Boricuas, so it seemed appropriate. However, coquis are also a symbol of good luck, so I guess that’s nice, too.

Puerto Ricans have a saying, “Soy de aqui como el coqui.”
I am from here (the island) just as the coqui is.

This tattoo doesn’t mean much in terms of Peace Corps except for the very real homesickness we all feel, and honestly, since all Puerto Ricans know the symbol, it’s a great ice breaker.

2. 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 would have never gotten this tattoo outside of Peace Corps. As much as I love Puerto Rico and all our symbols, I always thought this one was so cliché and overdone. I wanted my first Puerto Rican tattoo to be based on Hurricane Maria, but that one has to be done by a Puerto Rican de la Isla. Now that I have it, I am truly happy with it. I am thinking about getting a tukay (gecko) on the other shoulder, so that they can both sing to me.

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

Summing it up in one word would be hard, but I suppose the best one is “regresar.”


Read about other featured volunteers: Tatted in Thailand Series.

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