by Phun H

As I am about to physically leave Thailand, it is now that vivid memories of my travels begin to play out in my head. I cannot help but feel an overwhelming concoction of emotions flow through me and ultimately seize me in this most vulnerable state. I sit at my seat, tears rolling, nose sniffling, attempting to avoid the awkward looks I know are administered towards me and instead center my attention on the view of city veins from my window seat. I continuously repeat how much I miss home and I am not referencing my home in the states. Instead, my home is my small, cozy room fitted with a tough five inch mattress that I once loathed, but now currently wish I was curled up in. Home is the dinners made by my host mother, Noi, shared with my fellow volunteers. Home is the local market I biked to on Fridays to buy my weight in fresh guavas. Home is Treetop Country.

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When I first embarked on the adventure to Thailand, I had been persuaded by the notion that I would not be able to develop a strong connection with the placement because a month is a small period of time in comparison to the 4 plus months I will be spending in Indonesia. Thailand overcame and severed the idea in those four weeks and had easily become home. During my time in Thailand, I volunteered with an organization called Treetop Country in a small community in northern Thailand called Wiang Pa Pao. Wiang Pa Pao is located an hour and half from both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, the larger metropolises in the region, and weekends were dedicated to exploring the region. The infrastructure of the volunteer facility was composed of multiple ‘tree houses’ created from a mixture of bamboo and wood. The facility itself was incredible, to say the least.

Treetop is a volunteer program that assists local community schools by providing the Thai teachers support in English classes through volunteers. Treetop is connected with approximately 6 schools in the area and on the weekdays I would rotate between 3-4 different schools. In the morning, teachers would arrive at Treetop and depending on the school, I would teach one to four classes every day. No matter the school, I was always greeted with a “Good morning, teacher! How are you today?” from the students. My response would automatically be “Good morning, student. I am fine. How are you today?” The students were incredibly respectful and the adults were unfailingly hospitable. I miss everything about Thailand, but what makes my heart weak is when my thoughts reminsice to those that I was fortunate enough to cross paths with. Noi, Eak, Gan, Jinda, Principal Sheryn, Mon, Mui- these are names to you but the emotional connection I feel towards these individuals could not be adequately summed up by my writing. I fell in love with Thailand and in four weeks I fell hard and I fell fast. So as the clouds begin to blur the borders of my location, this plane ride will serve as a time to reflect and to emotionally stabilize. I will miss Thailand but an adventure waits in Indonesia.

Until next time,

Phun.