I was talking to my dad earlier and he told me: “Tonight think about all the things that you have seen and ask the things you can be thankful for.” So I’ve decided to use this last blog for that reflection.
A lot of this trip has been firsts for me. I’m the first one in my family to travel over seas, I went on my first hike, and I used my first squatting toilet, just to name a few. In the moment, these were hard for me. I experienced homesickness, I sweat and climbed up more hills than I ever have, and I envied men’s ability to pee standing up. However, even though I might have been frustrated in the moment, I am thankful for each one these experiences because they are mine. I think it also made me realize how privileged I am. In the U.S I don’t have to worry about using a squatting toilet or having to walk for an hour in extreme humidity. I have all these convinces that are at my fingertips, and the fact that I was able to adapt and accomplish all of the things on this trip makes me unbelievably proud of myself.
I am also thankful for all of the things I’ve learned. I feel like I’ve stepped out of the western bubble and can begin to understand things on a global level. I will use human trafficking as one example. I don’t think I was even familiar with the idea of human trafficking before I moved to Minneapolis for school. Suddenly this idea was on my radar, but I’m not sure I even grasped the magnitude of the problem before I came to Thailand. Now I understand this is truly a problem on a global scale. I think hearing Eve’s story helped me ground this large idea into reality and I now know someone who has lost friends and family because of this. I remember telling my parents about this and they didn’t even know the term human trafficking. It made me so frustrated, not at them, but at the fact that this worldwide problem isn’t being talked about. Everyone says even one person can make a difference, and I know I’m going to spread what I’ve learned to my friends and family. My hope is that this will at least make them familiar with the idea. Of course, human trafficking is just one example of something profound that I’ve learned here in Thailand. There are so many things I’ve learned, whether it be about the Mekong River or opium, and I will never forget any of them.
Finally, I am thankful for the opportunity to be embraced by a new culture. Everyone that I’ve met in Thailand has been helpful and friendly which makes saying goodbye so hard. I remember getting choked up after the first home stay because I thought of how little they had in comparison to what I have in the U.S. and yet they were willing to share it. They fed us, gave us a place to sleep, and even gave us their mosquito netting. I want to believe that I would be that generous if someone came to stay in my home, but I don’t know if that’s realistic or not. I think of all I have and I feel like I don’t give to others enough. I think giving back to others is a new goal I have for myself after this trip.
Thailand has been amazing and I have so much to be thankful for not only when it comes to all the experiences I had, but also when it comes to the life I have in the U.S.. I hope one day I will be back to experience more.