“Never saw the morning ‘til I stayed up all night / Never saw the sunshine ‘til you turned out the light / Never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long.” – Tom Waits
It hasn’t been “too long”, but when I return to American it will be with a new set of eyes. I may have said something similar a year ago, but those where words of ignorance. You don’t get into the real challenges until after at least a full year.
Redneck Tea Party protesters who can’t spell have no idea how fantastic they have it. America is a great place to live. We (Americans) complain of so much, while having so much more. Americans need to be thankful for what they have, not what they don’t have. Real men pay their share of taxes.
Thailand is also a great place to live, maybe even a better place than America simply because they don’t require so much. Sure Thais want a better house, car and satellite TV package, but they’re not graded by these “performances” like Americans.
My job over here can be difficult to define. A third of it is to educate Thais about American culture. I sometimes feel like an American missionary when I tell classrooms about what Americans normally eat, look like and do on a normal day. Another third is to educate Americans on Thai culture. I do this through blogs and communicating with Mr. Anderson – a former and favorite teacher of mine – at Forest Lake High School. I will also do this upon my return. The other third is the projects and education I give to my community.
Even if I accomplish zero projects and don’t change the way things are run around here (likely), I feel I’m doing a great deal by being a good representative of the United States. I always wear a smile and a friendly attitude in my village. I go out of my way to be friendly to the kids in and out of school. For the Thais who greatly annoy me (not too many), I exude the philosophy that says, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
It is from this theory that I’ve come to encompass the thought that 80 percent of success is showing up. This doesn’t mean Denard Span will be successful by pulling grass while sitting in center field of Target Field, but it does mean that a large part of success is based on being a good representative.
Being a Peace Corps Volunteer has helped me see how important it is to simply represent my country with pride and maturity. There is an election coming up and how an official represents his/her state or country makes more of a difference to me. It matters, not only how well he/her will do the job at home, but also how the rest of the world will look upon this person. How the world sees this person will be a large representation of how the world sees the United States of America.
Only Americans can vote, but I feel the view of the rest of the world is very important and that’s something I rarely considered before my time with the Peace Corps.
Now go vote!!!