Kevin Lentz, YinD 131
The dawn is slowly giving shape to the rolling hills and tall pine trees that surround my family home in North Georgia. Four days ago, this was a valley populated by rice paddies and guarded by jagged mountain ranges. I’m still waiting for the music from the next-door wat and the village chief’s daily reports to announce the dawn’s arrival. Another hour passes, and all I hear is the morning song of robins and cardinals punctuating the deafening roar of silence. Blinking away tears, I start to doubt myself. Was it all just some long dream?
My mind begins to sift through the mountain of impressions of my last fifteen months. Impressions of the highest joys and most profound sorrows, unexpected enlightenment and unbreachable confusion, glimpses of the better angels of our nature and depths of depravity all mingle in my mind. I try to piece them together so they might form a coherent image, something I can define or make sense of. The resulting mixture is so far anything but definite.
Instead, the impressions of joy and grief, discovery and confusion, good and bad mix as cream does in coffee. Distinct parts are no longer visible. What was bitter is overcome by the joys, discoveries and good found along the way. The mixture remains sweet to recollect and hard to admit it is at its end. Even now, I am fighting back tears coming to this conclusion, but I am gladdened by the fact that what is ended is not final.
My mind is now inhabited by the treasures I take home from service. Great people and friends from whom I have learned invaluable lessons of love, patience, and understanding. Extended periods of solitude from which I have gleaned parts of my own identity, passions, and life goals. Service in a foreign culture which has left me more community oriented and open-minded. These things will never leave me as long as I draw breath and will inform who I become.
I know I will continue to try to make sense of these last fifteen months during the upcoming days, weeks, months, or even years. This is only fitting given their impactful nature. However, I am now also assured that even if this was just some crazy dream, nothing could be more real and meaningful to me. I am honored to have had the privilege to serve in this way, and while it will feel like a dream at times, the feeling of pride from having served, learned, and changed will always be true.
Thank you for everything Peace Corps Thailand.
Kevin Lentz, Youth in Development Volunteer, Group 131
Read Kevin’s previous articles and contributions.