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Tatted in Thailand: COS Tattoos

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

In this edition of “Tatted in Thailand” we’ve decided to highlight a few Close of Service tattoos that Peace Corps Thailand 130 volunteers have gotten, as they wrap up their two years. Here they are…


Monique  Kehinde Ogunsusi, TESS 130

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

I have two tattoos, the word “Phetchabun” written in Thai and a Mangosteen! I got them done  after New Years in Bangkok by an artist who has frequently tattooed other PCVS.

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

I got two tattoos done at the same time. One is the word “Phetchabun” written in Thai. It’s the province I served in and the place I’m so proud to call my home! The second is a mangosteen with the Thai numbers 130 written in the petals. Mangosteen is my favorite fruit and I love the significance of it being the queen fruit of Thailand!

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 love my province so much and I never wanted to forget it, so naturally tattooing the name of it was the way to go! I think the mangosteen is a really cute fruit and I thought it would look nice on my arm so I i got it done . I really wanted to incorporate my cohort number onto my arm, and it fit nicely into the mangosteen. If I wasn’t a PC volunteer I would not have gotten either one.

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

NARAK. (cute) 

 

Alexis Baker, YIND 130
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1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done.
My tattoo is a rubber tree leaf with the word Thungyao written underneath in Thai.

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
Thungyao is the name of my community where I’ve served for the past two years. It is located in the province of Trang and they are known for their rubber trees. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by rubber trees and everyone I know is either a rubber tree farmer or owns a rubber tree farm. It is a huge part of my community and it is the defining symbol of my service. I wanted to get a tattoo that I could look at and always remember my time in Thungyao. My tattoo was done by Fern who is an incredible young female artist located in Bangkok. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to get a tattoo done in Thailand.

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?
If I wasn’t a PCV I would have never heard of my cute little town of Thungyao with all their rubber trees; so probably not. 

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

One word to describe my tattoo would be reminiscent, because for the rest of my life I will see it and remember my time here and carry a part of them with me wherever I go.

 

Andrea Aribe, YIND 1302-2.jpg

1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done.
When: January 2, 2020

Where: Chiang Mai Skinart

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

Linear, geometric and organic, my spinal tattoo illustrates:

  • Nan [province] in the language of Lanna, an ancient Northern Thai culture,
  • Hexagons, a reminder of honeycomb (my Thai nickname is Nam Pueng, which means honey),
  • Chomphu Phu Kha, a pink flower that blooms once a year and in Thailand can only be found in Nan,
  • And a unalome symbol, which represents a path to enlightenment.

My tattoo encompasses my service. It connects me to my site and identity in Thailand.

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 was inspired by the idea of paying homage to my time in Nan, so my tattoo would not exist if I did not live in Thailand.

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

Home.


Larissa Delgado, YIND 130
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1. Describe your tattoo, and give a brief story about when and where (in Thailand) you got it done.
My tattoo is a the outline of Simba as a cub that Rafiki draws on the tree in the film The Lion King. I’ve gotten it shaded in orange, red, and black just as it looks like in the film. I got it done at Best Sure Tattoo in Chiang Mai by the artist Akhe on January 10, 2020. The story is I was looking for a good place to get it, and happened to be in Chiang Mai when a friend was getting her tattoo finished up at Best Sure Tattoo. It was her third time getting tatted at this same tattoo shop and she highly recommended the place, so I felt comfortable getting it done there. It was extra meaningful for me because Chaing Mai is my favorite city in Thailand, and it was my last weekend trip in Chiang Mai as a volunteer. 

2. What is the meaning of your tattoo, if any, and does it connect you to your Peace Corps service?
This was only the second tattoo I’ve ever wanted. I’ve wanted it since I was 19, 6 years ago. I don’t remember how I found it, but I remember really wanting it, but not wanting to commit to it until I was 100% sure. At the time I didn’t attribute the kind of meaning that I attribute to it now though. I also had no tattoos at the time and I knew I didn’t want my first tattoo to be big, so I put it off for awhile. It connects me to my Peace Corps service because I got it in my favorite city in Thailand, and because I waited to get it as a reward for getting through my service.

I think what’s funny about the tattoos that I have is that they look like tattoos you would get without any attached meaning, but each of them actually have their own layered meanings. However I think this one has the most meaning out of all the tattoos I’ve gotten.

I want to be a Film Director someday and “The Lion King” was the very first film that I ever saw, and that I became obsessed with as a toddler. It is still a movie that has had a continuous impact on me, and in a strange way it has connected me to my faith. Last year I wrote an article on my Christian Blog drawing between Simba’s journey with anxiety and identity; and paralleled it as an analogy to my personal journey as a Christian struggling with anxiety and identity.

Second, lions are my favorite animals, and I think are a great representation of how I see myself, and how I aspire to be perceived as: cuddly and playful but also strong, someone that has the balance of getting work done (hunting,) but who also sets aside time to rest.

Lastly, the lion has powerful imagery in the bible. The bible uses the phrase Lion of God to depict someone who is boldly devoted to God. I’ve thought about getting Lion of God written just underneath the tattoo, so that people understand that it’s much more than a Lion King tattoo, but it also is a Lion King tattoo. It also is sometimes a reference to Jesus when the bible says “Lion of Judah,” because Jesus descends from the tribe of Judah in terms of his lineage. I wouldn’t mind getting that written either, so I guess I need more time to decide on what to have written underneath. I think it’s probable that I’ll get Leão De Judá (Lion of Judah,) in Portuguese since I grew up and still attend Brazilian churches.

Lastly I love having Simba as a cub, because I see it as a symbol to my early obsession with film, and as a visible connection to my childhood. If I have a full length mirror I can look over my shoulder and be reminded of a little three year old me.

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’ve wanted it for six years. However sometime last year I decided I would finally get it, but I was inspired to wait until I was closer to the end of my service, so that it could be my reward for getting through service. I would’ve eventually gotten it, but I still think I would’ve needed to get it after getting through a special chapter of my life. I think I needed something challenging to spur me enough to get it. It’s even more meaningful that I got it in my favorite city in Thailand, and towards the end of my Peace Corps service.

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


Read more of Larissa’s previous articles and contributions.

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