Tag Archives: peace corps journey

Con Sabai Sabai

What do you get when you mix Thai enthusiasm with Puerto Rican zest? You get a wild cooking night.

So this past week the Peace Corps 131 had American Day, a lovely day meant to share our culture with our Thai Families. I took this opportunity to show my family one of my favorite foods. Mofongo. Now if you’ve ever even met a Puerto Rican you’ve probably heard of this dish but for those who haven’t it’s mashed plantains (or unripe bananas because Thailand doesn’t have plantains), seasoned with an abundance of garlic and onion, deep fried and covered with olive oil or garlic butter. All together it’s absolutely delicious.

So I assumed that my family wouldn’t want to cook this because of how labor intensive it is but I was so pleased to come home to my host mom, host aunt and grandmother all at the ready. Mom peeled the bananas, grandma handled the fryer, and auntie mashed. We talked for around 6 hours while making around 50 mofongos. I explained how the dish came to be and they laughed at the pronunciation each time I said it. We giggled about how our boobs would sag if we spent too much time mashing the plantains.

All together it was a wonderful experience and reminded me how thankful I am to have such a fantastic host family. It truly completes the experience and they will always have a special place in my heart for being able to welcome this strange Puerto Rican into their home.

A look around

Have you ever just looked around and thought “I wonder who has it easiest in this group?” Well since joining the Peace Corps it’s a thought that hasn’t crossed my mind in awhile, after all, we are all here, we have the same-ish stipend, we do the same work and we have the same goals and mission. For once it seemed that I was in a group of people that was like minded and had similar experiences…or so I thought. Now yes, some people said certain things that I was quickly able to attribute to privilege but in my head at the time it could have just been a regional misunderstanding? After all NYC humor versus Cali humor must vary. But then came a day where we were told to stand in a line, and I knew the game all too well. The Privilege Walk. For those who don’t know, a group stands in a single line all facing ahead and certain scenarios are read off; “Parents divorced?” “Faced racial aggression?” “Faced aggression based on Sexuality?” etc… well sooner than later I found myself at the end of the group, I was the least privileged, and I was a little surprised but not incredibly so. I looked up to the first person and unsurprisingly I see the white, straight, cisgender male. I looked at the room again and saw the variety of faces and people that I had come to know over the tumultuous month, and thought should I be angry at their privilege and my lack thereof? And when I came to my conclusion the answer was simply “no”. How could I? The same way that my lack of privilege was by no fault of my own, neither was their privilege. Later I even talked to the gentleman who was the “most privileged” and mentioned in our current scenario our privilege didn’t matter, we were all here together and had a fantastic support system and as long as you remember where you come from and all the things you have to be grateful for then everything should be alright.

So who am I? I am Latina. I am bilingual. I am from a single parent household. I worked in high school. I maintained honor roll grades. I went to college. I worked through college. And I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer. Happy to be here with all of my colleagues whether we started at the same line or not, I am sure we will end at the finish line together.

Things To Remember When Peace Corps Gets Rough.

Why did you join? Was it to better yourself? Or better a community? Well yes and yes. Travel has always been a fantastic way to better yourself, and when you return you have stories that inspire and fascinate. Through some of these stories you encourage others to travel and the chain begins, each traveler shares their story and from that everyone benefits and everyone learns. Bettering the community? I can only hope I affect the whole community where I am stationed but I imagine that it will end up being one person or a small group that I inspire and that most certainly will be enough. I joined so that I could see through new and refreshed eyes, for though I love my home, both Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, life was hitting a standstill and becoming routine. May I never go back to being the bitter bartender closing one restaurant and opening the other the next day. May I never be the server having to force out laughs, or repeating the same question 150 times a day, “Black beans or refried?” May the next time that I hear mariachi music be on the shore in Mexico, and god forbid I sing another franchise happy birthday song. When times are rough, and they will be. Think of the anticipation you had before coming to Thailand. Think of how you anxiously counted down the days before you left and eagerly stashed away the money hoping to eat every Thai dish imaginable. Think of how proud your family is and will be when you complete your service. Think of the next journey, but remember to enjoy the day. Count your blessings for they are so obviously in front of you and remember, it may be a bad day, but it’s a bad day in Thailand.