I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting my next post, so worry no more! Here it is!
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what exactly I’m going to be doing in Thailand, how I got involved with this program, and why the heck I picked to go to this country, of all places.
I have known for a long time that I wanted to do a study abroad-type program. I have been saving up money since middle school to do something like this. Once I got to college, I realized that a “traditional” study abroad program was not really what I wanted to do. If I was going to be in another country, I didn’t want to be with the same people from home and my nose buried in a book. Although I believe that the study abroad experience can be a great one, I wanted something a little different. I wanted to be immersed in the culture, interacting with the people who live there and building relationships with them. I wanted not only to learn about their religion, traditions, and history, but live these things alongside them and truly experience life the way they do. And it would be even better, I thought, if I could somehow give back to the community that I knew would be giving so much to me. So one day I bounced into our International Program Director’s office and told him what I have just told you. He looked at me, said, “I think that is a wonderful idea,” and handed me a brochure for an organization called Cross-Cultural Solutions. It was a perfect match. This organization runs volunteer abroad programs in many countries around the world and had many options for where and when I could go and what I could do. After looking over my many options (Ghana? Peru? Russia? India?) I finally decided on Thailand. I really wanted a culture that was extremely different from my own, somewhere completely out of my comfort zone. To be honest, the deciding factor for me was when I read in the CCS brochure that people in Thailand were perpetually happy. I thought that sounded like a pretty good deal and told my parents I had decided on Bangkok, Thailand. They just gave me that look that said, “We’re not sure you’re our child,” and then, being the supportive parents they are, signed me up.
I won’t find out for another week or two exactly what I’m going to be doing there. I told them about my experience working with kids and the fact that I am studying to be a speech pathologist. They will then match up my skills with the needs of the local community in order to make the best placement possible.
Since I was going to be “in the neighborhood” (to the same degree that St. Cloud, MN is “in the neighborhood” of Sioux Falls, SD), I decided that it would be fun to go to Singapore to visit some friends I met in 2006 when they came to America to work at my Girl Scout Camp. So I’ll be in Singapore for a week before traveling to Thailand. In fact, I just booked my hostel in Singapore tonight. I’m going to be staying at the YMCA. I heard it was fun and you can hang out with all the boys, so it seemed like a natural choice. You can check out the hostel’s website at http://www.ymcaih.com.sg/Web/main.aspx?ID=,b3e9ee8b-13db-43d7-8335-49d7b9c9c8c4
Right now I’m working at camp (Camp Conestoga, the Girl Scout Camp where I’ve been working at for the last 4 years). It’s been a LOT of fun so far and it’s keeping me really busy so I haven’t had a lot of time to get too nervous about my trip. We’re right in the middle of staff training and the kids come in about a week, so I’m getting excited for that as well!
Thanks again for checking out the blog. I’ll for sure be posting when I get my volunteer assignment, so be sure to check back! Also, thanks for all the comments on my last post! (Jared, maybe you can be the first one to comment on this one.)