Monday, November 24, 2014

"With Every Disappointment Comes a Blessing" says Al (my dad) haha

My dad once said to me, "With every disappoint comes a blessing." Since living in Thailand this quote has become more and more evident.  I want to share with you all one of those stories.

Last year, around October, my office and I handed out blankets, first to the elderly and the next day to all of the children with disability.  On that day, I was sitting in the van and the ladies began to warn me saying "be careful these kids will hit you, bite you, or scream don't get close." I then ask them, "why?" They respond by telling me that some of them are Autistic.  As most of you know, I have worked with Autism in the past and have a special place in my heart for children with Autism.  Their statement did not affect me at all.  I got out the van with blanket in hand.  The first thing i did was run up to her and say "hello" in English and then "sawadee" with a huge smile.  The little girl grabbed and squeezed my arm and smiled back.  The little girl's mother was in shock but I was not.  I simply treated her the way I would want to be treated, no matter circumstance.  This stuck with me for a while.  

That day I realized that we have a high population of children with disabilities.  I began doing my research on what was available for the families as well as the children, within the village, and noticed that there was not much. I spoke with the head of the village public health center and she expressed a need for some activities around Autism. 

I was excited and planning.  I decided that I would create a monthly meeting in which we would have different activities each visit to assist the family in different ways while creating a network with in this group.  This was my hope.  The time finally came.  I was to go visit each family, we started on my list. The list was children 0-14 with disabilities. All disabilities. My list started with about 15 children; 11 of which were identified as either Autistic or children with Down Syndrome.  Throughout the day,  I was driven to each house slowly but surely my excitement dwindled because all of the children I met, that one day in October, were all sent to a special school in a much bigger city. After it was all said and done I found my list at a mere 5 children; 3 with Downs ( 2 of which were under 2 years of age), and 2 with physical disabilities.  

At this point, I was feeling defeated and disappointed.  I decided to continue with my home visits.  Basically,  I would check in, document progress, and bring different activities to aid in said progress. One kid specifically named Oad. 

He cant walk and so he doesn't go to school. He was 11 when we began. I visit him once a week while the other children 1-2 a month.  I began doing pretest, attempting to figure out what he could and couldn't do.  I was shocked to find that he could barely use his hands to draw a straight line.  We began working on little things like drawing, counting, and writing hoping to improve his motor skills as well as his daily living skills.

I wrestled with this because I wasn't sure how sustainable this truly was.  Am I really helping him? Will it stop right when I leave.  I also realized I was still kind of disappointed by the fact that this was not my original plan.  This disappointment was clearly carried into this new plan.   I had to accept the hand that was dealt which I eventually did. 

Over time, I began to see change.  And surprisingly, what I would call sustainability.  I remember the day because of the feeling it brought.  I biked up to Oad's house and he was sitting smiling, beside him was a handwriting book.  He tells me that his mom bought it for him to practice while I am away. First instance of excitement.  I could not wrap my head around it.  Did she finally see the importance of his education? Did she realize, as I had long ago, that he was not developmentally challenged but simply not being stimulated by anything but the TV? Either way, I was happy to see it.  That same day, we were working on adding and subtracting, typically he would ask his mother to help or she would volunteer her assistance.  I would try to tell him to work by himself because he is very smart and I know he can do it.  On this particular day, as we were working, his mother comes to help and he tells her NOOO I can do it by myself! Although he could have said it in a nicer way he used a smile haha and my day was made.

Through all of the disappointment that came with pre-planning, talking to village leaders, preparing games and activities  the blessing that came in seeing Nong Oad yell, " I can do it myself" really changed my perspective in a major way.  On a journey such as the Peace Corps, perspective is vital and in this country called Thailand perspective is EVERYTHING.   Disappointments happen, they are inevitable; it is the way we handle those disappointments that make the difference.  

And since I missed a month here is a little update in the form of a few pics! Love you all and as usually thanks for always supporting me in my journey! 

 This picture was taking at our 'fakesgiving' meetup! it was great it brings all groups together and we stuff our faces! the next morning some of these amazing people were running the marathon and half marathon races in bangkok! AMAZING!!! great times!

This past weekend we also had our close of service conference! We ate dinner at the ambassadors house in Bangkok! This is my group! group 125 looking amazing as usual! ( also Embassy and PC staff)

 My original village group!!! missing Andy because he went to the bathroom! and Jill who is in back home

This is Paula our Director of Programming and Training! she is amazing and she is leaving! this was her last time with us! she will move on to be the DPT in Timor-Leste which will be opening a new Peace Corps site. We will miss her!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

YAY! WE DID IT * in my 'Phetchabun' voice*

Hello Hello Hello!

I hope all of you are doing absolutely amazing!! This month has been a whirlwind of new experiences and successes! There are ups and downs in all experiences but the ups overwhelmingly outweigh the downs; that I am grateful for.  

One major experiences and successes wrapped in one, was the completion of my first 10 k.
Boy, was that a journey!   Originally when I heard 10 k, I was thinking "NOOOO WAYYY I AM NOT A RUNNER"; I may have also laughed at Mamie when she told me about it lol.  I  then decided, "what better place to do my first run than Thailand?!".  This would be a major achievement for me.

  I began training. I started walking, jogging and then running daily. Its definitely harder than you would think to train in this country, mainly because of the amount of dogs that are everywhere, all the time.  I would try to run around my village but, it is impossible, here comes that EVIL pack of dogs that love to chase me.  I was then confined to running laps at the school.  I preferred running until I felt the need to stop so i couldn't really track distance on my own but at the school i knew exactly how many laps I had ran this caused a major psychological problem for me.  Another volunteer suggested that countdown to my goal instead of counting up to my goal of laps.  This helped tremendously.  (Thank Sapan)
                I had moments where i felt completely defeated.  Mostly due to a groin injury and the Peace Corps doctor telling me I was not allowed to work out for 3 months.  I gave myself more like 1 month to heal and got back into training.  This made it worse at times.  Some days, I would start running and the pain was just too much.  These days really got to me.  I gave myself a week off again.  And decided to push through the pain. ( I KNOW I KNOW)  I set a goal for myself and I was gonna complete that durn 10 K no matter what! Honestly, I was limping around, quite often in some pain, but when I ran I felt nothing so I kept it moving.
           Once I got into a nice little routine I started feeling great! Excited about the progress even with the occasional set backs! I also changed my diet. I noticed when I ate certain things in the evening I felt wayyy better in the morning when it was time to run.
** working out with these cuties definitely helped**

      Weeks went by and finally we reached RACE WEEK! Yee found us this amazing house with a pool and some pretty yummy food.  It was a nice way to prep for the race on Sunday.  We were also celebrating Yees Bday this weekend with some tiger fun. Saturday we went registered, picked up our race numbers and shirts. At this time, I found out that the race course included inclines and lots of windy roads! This added to my nerves haha because I had been practicing on the flat track at the school but I was still excited ready to get this thing done!
  Then headed over to the tiger temple. (pics below) We tried to keep it low activity and relaxed in preparation for our 3 am wake up the next morning.
        Sunday morning came, we were up and ready by 4 am! Excited! (yee and I heading over to runnn and nay and I walking in ready! )
There were about 10 other volunteers participating in the race and our cheerleaders/photographers Mayumi Rosie, Ryan and Jeanette! We arrived at the race with time to spare.  We used the bathroom, kept our bags, and began stretching; because thats what runners do right? haha
(clearly a posed pic haha) 
and of course we couldnt run with out the photo shoot

And then it began! I wasnt sure how this would work; would all the fast runners fly by? would we all be mushed together!? haha I just didnt know! But surprisingly, even with 1500 people, non of that happened. It was a really great experience! I had my 'sister' ( we had matching hair styles, Im sure everyone assumed we were siblings lol it is not the first time haha)  nay running with me keeping me moving and regulating my breathing lol the whole time until the last K she was like, "come on sash we are just gonna sprint this one out" and then she counted down... Her legs began to move much faster lol I was said, "go ahead haha my legs arent gonna make it" I was definitely grateful.  ( thanks Nay).  

Heres a few of us finishing out the race!

Do i look like i was dying?! because I was! haha

 WE DID IT!!!!


This was truly a great experience! I thank mamie for roping me in and all of my friends for keeping motivated throughout this journey.  I would love to do this again but I promised myself and other PC staff that I would have a seat to allow proper healing.  I do not want to deal with this pain any longer! 

PICTURE TIMMMEEE!! These are pictures from our time in Kanchanburi Thailand! and the last in bkk at this delicious sushi buffet for yees bday 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Update time!!! =) ( WITH PICS)

Helllo allll!

Really, I am cutting it close.  I have approximately 8 hrs before Sept!(which is CRAZZYY) so this is  a quick one! haha!

A few housekeeping announcements! lol

2. Thailand has been selected as a "Bring It Home" winner for a second year in a row! Big CONGRATS to Christine Bedenis!  Thanks to all who voted!!

3. Taking part in my first 10k Sept 14! Ahhh nervous but minus that iced Thai tea I had Friday night, Im doing great! and im excited!

4. 7 more months til CLOSE OF SERVICE!


Now Picture Time!!!

My sisters! Crazy Crazy Crazy! haha
My host mom surprised me with a new phone! =) love her!
Investigating in Phetchabun then lunch with p' uhhay

Bowling for nay's bday! 

This is Brandon. He lives in Phetchabun about 3 hrs away from me
We were asked to work an event about violence against women and children in the big city. 

Field trip with my office! we rented all these buses lol! smh!


And somehow I sat here!!!? smh 


The elderly went on the field trip as well! We went to the Grand Palace! 

Kids learning! =)  at the temple! 
Working Mayumis camp! great fun! 

We had soooo much food!

These seniors did an amazing jjob working with the kids and leading the games! 

Next are pics of my life skills day camp! 

Body Spelling =)

Egg drop project!

Love these kids! 

And thats it for this month! I hope all is well! Thanks for the support always! =)