As my last few hours in Thailand come to a close I am glad that I have gotten to become a part of this group. During our last briefing this morning the group spoke a lot about how the Thai culture was based around the collectivism in their societies. So often, I am speaking on my own experience, we are pushed out into the world so soon to create an identity for ourselves. Like Jill spoke about, we create an identity by what we do. So often I get wrapped up in what I am doing to make myself an individual and separating myself what from what my family is doing and just plowing through life on my own. Being here in Thailand forced me out of my push to be such an individualist. I had no choice to do things on my own, it was with my group. It allowed me to open up my mind a little and learn to rely on people. Being away from my comfort zone and doing everything within a group was a huge struggle for me. When I was growing up, I was always forced to be independent so I could survive on my own, but that’s not the way the Thai’s look at it. By being so individualistic, I know what personal space is, and how time alone feels. During my travels, that was stripped from me and very hard to deal with the first week. As the trip progressed, the collectivism became a safety net for me. I was able to turn to some people during hard times and during the experiences that were difficult to face. It relieved some of the stress that I would have endured if I was just facing this all alone.
The Thai’s culture focuses on eliminating and avoiding stress and turning to their family is a very good way to do it, or they just ignore it. Sometimes doing nerve racking or high stress activities, like zip lining, is much easier to do when you have a group of people around you supporting and encouraging you. This was true for a I think more than a few of us on that experience. Relying on families like the Thai family systems do here, can make their homes run and their villages run by smoothly. This takes away the pressure from just one person to try and operate the village, reducing the stress. This is true for the village that we did our home stay in, one of my favorite things on this trip. The village leader didn’t look like he held an ounce of stress in his face, maybe he was just good at hiding it. I believe that this was because the community turned to one another to help out. They all know what they needed to do, and what link they were to complete the circle. People may think that my stress level has been reduced because they may have thought that this was a “vacation”, and some parts of it were a little taste of a vacation, but it was a huge learning curve for me. Becoming a part of this group that traveled to Thailand has given me a “family” who will understand the experiences I had. It just made me realize the importance of not being so individualistic and being more collective within my family. I believe that it will make for a stronger connection, bond, and life with our family.
I am glad to be returning to my home and life, but I am returning with a new perspective and am ready to share that with my family. I will miss my friends that I’ve made and look forward to other adventures with them!