As we prepare to journey home, I’m anxious to drive again. Strange, of all the things to miss other than my family, I miss driving. This trip has presented many learning lessons about life, cultural nuances, group dynamics as well as individual perceptions and intentions. Everything happens for a reason. We experience it, adapt, learn, reflect and then try again. I am so thankful for everyone who has crossed my path during this journey because I have learned from every interaction.
I’m at village internet cafe (that’s what I called it). A make-shift shaft that the owner and his family call home. He and his wife sell drinks, gas and phone cards from this humble abode. He won’t take my money for using his internet so we constantly buy water and other supplies for our center from him. The café is on the main gravel road running through the village. As I watch people walk by, everyone says hello to me and when I reply “souk sa bai” they smile and continue their daily routine. Motorbikes, sometimes with 4 or more people in them, zip past me kicking up dust, saturating the air with Singha’s yellow, red snow. Motorized cart wagons, carrying farmers and field workers casually drive by. Everyone glances my way. I smile, wave at them, and they wave back.
When I walk back to our center, every home I pass calls out to me. “Hello, teacher! Souk Sa Bai, Cher” as they wave profusely to ensure that I heard them. “Souk Sa Bai Te!” I shout back. As I continue my walk, passing motorists also greet me.
It’s a mundane, seemingly simple, ordinary service trip. Anyone can come to this village wanting to help, to make this place better. You’ll get warm receptions, smiles, hugs, and laughter. However, unless you’re willing to observe mindfully, reflect before you engage, you won’t even notice it. The complex layers and layers of individual and collective stories of hardships, hope, and way of life. Individually, they aspire but collectively, the village thrives. And after we leave, they will continue to persevere as they always have and always will. We will be just a memory, a spec of dust that kicks up with every footstep and ox hoof print that trod along Singha’s yellow, dusty road. And for me, this is as it should be.
Singha, you beckoned me to come, and I arrived. As I depart, I bid you see you again.