From Strawberries to the LPI

Life in pre-service training is, most of the time, a blur. So many things are going on at once and you always have to be on top of your game. You rarely have three hours of clear thinking to yourself (Which is about the amount of time I need to write a blog post) therefore it has been about three weeks since my last post. Don’t worry, I will get you all caught up.
First: I AM GOING TO TAK!! Tak is a province on the southern edge of what is considered northern Thailand and borders the Burma border. The capital of Tak is about 6 hours-7hours outside of Bangkok by bus, depending on how fast it is going. Tak has a lot of national parks and I think, don’t quote me on this, the biggest waterfall in Thailand. The town I will live in is about 30 minutes outside of the capital.
The revealing ceremony on Feb 20 was pretty cool, the instructors had made a string outline of Thailand on the floor and announced who was going where starting from the north going south. That way, you could roughly see where people would be in relation to you. It was a glorious day. The rest of the week was spent getting ready for our site visit, contacting our counterpart, and making sure we could navigate and speak around a bus station.
On Friday all the volunteers traveled to Bangkok and visited the official Peace Corps office. After that, we were on our own to get to our sites. I took a nice travel bus with air-conditioning, but since I am so used to the heat and humidity, the bus was too cold.
The weekend was amazing. There were three ladies that showed me all around the area… we did everything. Frist we went to the Petrified Wood National Park, followed by the biggest dam in Thailand. (Unfortunately, the air was filled with smoke which had drifted from the fires in Myanmar where they were burning the sugar cane fields.) We also had a picnic at a waterfall, visited a wat, and drove up into the mountains to the Market of the Mong people (a hill tribe) where they sold broccoli, strawberries, lettuce and carrots –I felt like I was in Hy-Vee again. These are considered “exotic” in Thailand but can be raised in the mountains because of the cooler temperatures. I loved the strawberries!
Related to what I will be actually doing for the next two years, the people showed me around the Tessaban where I would be working. I was surprised how well I could communicate with my future Thai co-workers. I also visited the local “OTOP” or “One tambon, one product”-a king’s project. They make everything you could think of, especially any type of hat, from palm tree leaves. It was pretty great, and I could defiantly see myself collaborating with them in the future.
After that, it was back to Singburi. As you can probably tell just from reading my summary, it was an INTENSE weekend. Needless to say I, as well as ¾ of the other volunteers, got a felt a little “under the weather” after that weekend.
The last week-and-a-half has all been studying for my Language Proficiency Interview (LPI). I have to reach a certain level of language (intermediate-low to be exact) in order to become an official Peace Corps Volunteer. My interview test was yesterday, and I felt it went pretty well. We will see tomorrow…side note It just decided to rain sheets right before my interview. It was raining so hard, I had to be driven from the waiting area to the testing room (which was only 100 meters away). While getting in the van, I stepped in a huge, 2inch-deep puddle. Miraculously, my socks did not get wet!! Thank the heavens for waterproof spray for shoes!

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