I've been meeting a lot of new people lately. Which surprised me because I've lived here for so long already (more then 10 months). For the past week my community has been holding community development planning meetings for each village (there are 5 in total). These meetings are part of the government's attempt to improve the lives of the rural villager by having everyday community members decide what changes they would like to see in their village. These meetings take place once every year and once all ideas are collected, it is supposed to be put into an action plan and projects should be completed within 1 to 2 years. The only problem with this is that nothing ever gets completed. Project ideas from the previous years are never started or completed, and are therefore pushed to the next years action plan, leaving little room for new activities and ideas. This is one of the things I am trying to help make a little more productive, but I digress. I say all that to say, this is how I have been meeting so many new people. I thought I knew everyone in my community, but I guess I'm not as knowledgeable as I though. I've been to 3 such meeting so far and have meet a lot of new people that I could possibly work with to make these ideas into realities.The only problem is, I have to survive their questions first.
(Me and the Community Doctor. I'm sure I was asked something embarrassing)
The average meeting starts with a Village headman opening the meeting and welcoming all of the distinguished guests (of which I am not one), followed by the community Doctor who I have been working with a lot recently. Now the Doctor thinks he can speak English, and granted he does have a larger grasp of the English vocabulary as does the average villager, but he is still far from coherent. So he always askes me to speak English with the villagers in the short time they give me at these meetings to introduce myself and what I do. I usually say a few words in English and everyone is amazed because I look so much like a Thai person, but I speak English so well. Everyone laughs and gets a big kick out of it, and when I start speaking Thai they are really floored. I have accepted my role as the "comic relief" if you will, because not only am I getting a chance to interact with people I wouldnt have otherwise, I am also getting a lot of good information from the villagers themselves and what visions they have for their community. I am quit often, the only person at these meetings taking notes, and it has been very beneficial.
After my initial speech (in Thai) of who I am and what I do, the floor is opened up for questions. The most common question the villagers ask of me is if I have a boyfriend. I am constantly trying to be married off to a Thai man so that I wont have to go back to America when my time in the Peace Corps is up. Those of you who know me, know why this could never be (though I have seen a couple of Thai men that were worth a second look, in Bangkok of course). They also ask me how old I am, what my family does, if one or both of my parents are Thai, and what country I'm "really" from. To this day, even people who I speak with everyday and consider close friends have trouble believing that I am American. And if they finally consed that I am truly a person born of the United States, then they are convinced that I was born white and that the hot Thai sun has simply turned my skin this color. I guess you cant win 'em all.
All in all its been a great learning experience both for me and the villagers who come to these meetings. I've even started telling jokes at some of them to help me get through the questions and of course, to faithfully play my role of the "awkward farong" to the best of my ability. And I think I'm doing a pretty good job! Already I've began developing possible literacy, drug abuse and agriculture projects just from the information I was able to get out of these meetings. And I guess having to publicly turn down marriage proposals from parents and defend my nationality is a small price to pay for productivity.
(Me, Pi Mai, And the Village Headman for Village 5)
Name: Porscha Home: Chai Nat, Thailand About Me: The opinions of this blog are mine, and mine only. They do not reflect the opinions and/or views of the Peace Corps or the United States government. See my complete profile