Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD
As I prepare, I hold my tears back in student club meetings that are coming to an end, not wanting the kids to think I’m crying over a painting, a silly game, or the infamous, “Thank you, Teacher.”
As I prepare, I suddenly have this energy to do all of those things I was once burned out from: that art mural, going to the temple, another wedding, and the Sports Day that seems to take place every month.
As I prepare, I feel rushes of anxiety as friends and family back home excitedly seek to make plans and resume where we left off. On the inside, I’m not feeling like that same woman who departed her homeland in 2017, but I’m hoping they will be both welcoming and patient with me.
As I prepare, I reflect on how I left as a career woman with a salary who enjoyed happy hours and brunch on the weekends, flying to see friends “just because,” a swanky apartment, a thrift store habit, a bi-weekly nail appointment, and a car.
As I prepare, I reflect on how many of the Americans I know value, and rely on those things, yet we relinquished all of it and I survived without any of it these past 2 years.
As I prepare, I have only 1 pair of dusty sandals, one pair.
As I prepare, my heart feels lighter. I’ve experienced extreme hot weather, being chased by hungry, angry dogs, and biking past dead dogs on the side of the road. Being around the least amount of Black people, that I’ve ever been around in my life. People who I thought were my friends, but weren’t, prejudice, feelings of being an outcast, rejection, a therapy session, more gossip than I’ve had since high school, an inability to find pants that fit me, or someone who can do my hair. However, I forgive and I am thankful to it all, which challenged me to blossom into someone braver, confident, and more gentle than the woman I was 2 years ago.
As I prepare, I’m honored that it happened. The Girls Empowerment Club, teaching yoga and mindfulness, the Art Exchange Project, the Youth Leadership Group, the Life Skills Club, teaching preschoolers, the Gender and Youth Leadership Camp, the English camps, the Black History Month highlights, the dedicated counterparts, the trip to Indonesia, and Vietnam. The students of Banwianghaeng and Wianghaeng Wittayakom. Two birthdays, 30 and 31. Seeing Spike Lee and Chadwick Boseman at a party in Chiang Mai. Let’s not forget to shoutout: Gabriel, Monique, Psian, Halli, Larissa, Tim C., Berlin, Christalynn, Lucy, Spencer, Stephanie, Mabinty, Mrs. Lee-Hoon, and Phil. Khun Jeab, Kru Au, Kru Mean, P.Top, and Kru Bundit too.
As I prepare, I pack up an incredible journey of laughter, tears, places, and humans that held space for me with mercy and gentleness. This space which allowed me to grow as a volunteer, friend, sister, and woman. One day, in my later years, I may not remember all of the memories made, but my spirit will forever be imprinted with this experience, that very few know about, that we call Peace Corps.