My brain swims through things-to-do-before-I-leave checklists. I check off one item (tell family) and add two more (post a blog, convert US dollars to Thai Bahts).
I analyze suggested packing lists. One belt seems reasonable. “At least six sport bras” seems excessive. I buy short-sleeved shirts with collars, paying less than $20 for seven new-to-me shirts from the local thrift store.
My mouth devours the “eat foods you love” advice. I eat two ice cream cones in one day. The pistachio was awesome, the hazelnut even better. A week later I buy pint containers of ice cream. To compensate, I fill my fridge with fruits and vegetables. The ice cream is gone; the veggies are wilting.
I listen to Thai language CDs. My ears strain to hear the difference between high, middle, low, rising, and falling tones. My tongue bounces around my teeth trying in vain to mimic new sounds. The written characters in Thai words look like squiggly designs instead of specific letters with unique sounds. I feel like a Kindergartener unable to distinguish between the letters b, d, p, and q.
I remind myself to focus on the present. My mind replays preparing to move to Ghana; I think about daily life in West Africa. I imagine daily life and special-occasion festivals in Thailand. My heart beats faster. I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with oxygen and my mind with dreams.
I receive the much-awaited medical clearance from Peace Corps. I call my friend – another Peace Corps Volunteer from Ghana – to tell her the good news. Her husband has received clearance and she is waiting for the official thumbs up. A day later, she receives the coveted email. If there are no hiccups (e.g., change in Peace Corps funding, natural disaster, bizarre man-made calamity), the three of us – and 70 other enthusiastic Americans – will leave on January 8th, 2016, to begin our 27 months of service.
Like all Peace Corps Volunteers, I will promote world peace while helping people improve their lives. In Ghana, I focused on health, water and sanitation. In Thailand, I’m returning to my roots – education. My job title is “Teacher Collaborator and Community Facilitator.” I’ll spend most days in a primary school classroom, partnering with Thai teachers to help them become more effective English teachers.
I’m on cloud nine. I look forward to living in the only Southeast Asian country that has escaped colonial rule.
I anticipate the joy of learning and teaching.
I imagine the excitement of meeting new friends and exploring a different culture.
I expect many amazing adventures in Thailand.
P.S. I’ll post stories about my Peace Corps adventure on https://pcthailand.wordpress.com. You can display that blog and “follow me” to receive an email each time I post an update.