How Quickly Things Change

From our first meal together in Chiang Mai…

Written By Natalie & Paff

How quickly things can change, hey?

Three days ago, we all sat around wooden stools at Sandot’s permaculture farm gorging on banana cake and fried noodles. Two days ago, we were singing “Happy Birthday” to Jordan and Daniela during our final dinner in Chiang Mai. Yesterday, we parted ways and gave one last scorpion salute and “Seize the day, baby!” in San Francisco. Today, we are here as your OE’s to express gratitude and appreciation for everyone involved in our Sabai 2020 semester.

To the parents and families of the Carpe community…
Endless thanks and gratitude for your patience, support, and understanding throughout this semester. Whether you sent a virtual E-card every day to your student, aided them in the process of coming to Carpe, or showed appreciation to our office crew during their difficult time in responding to the news of the Coronavirus, we want to send the biggest thank you. This experience wouldn’t be possible without everything you do to support us.

To the staff at HQ in Portland…
What a journey this semester has been. To the late night phone calls, the amount of time and love you put into each program and every student, the community you’ve created over the years, and the support we’ve felt every day in our program, we salute your compassionate efforts to make Carpe Diem to what it is today.

To our local contacts and all those we met in this journey…
To put it simply, this experience wouldn’t be the same without the people we’ve shared connections with over the last month.

Ajarn Petchara and Ajarn Panom helped guide us through an immersive week of Thai culture. Through language classes, Thai dance performances, making Loi Krathongs, discussions of the village’s history, cooking classes, and Buddhism courses, they were able to kick off our journey of cultural engagement. Their caring and smiling personalities shone through every day, making our first homestay experience all the more memorable. With a new perspective and deeper ability to connect with Thai language, we send our gratitude.

P. Manop then guided us for ten days in the village of Ban Apaa, followed by four days of trekking. He not only opened up his own home to us as leaders, he also encouraged our students to engage themselves in every aspect of village life with the quote, “Learning by Doing”. This is a quality that fully emphasizes Carpe’s idea of experiential education and a skill that we all will take with us in the future. With a broadening perspective and deeper understanding of hill tribe culture, we send our gratitude.

We then ventured to Sandot and Chen at the Sahainan Permaculture Project. When the news of Covid-19 came through via emails from headquarters, Sandot and Chen continued to make us feel welcomed and at ease. They showed us support, empathy, and flexibility, which allowed us an easier transition for our group. With a reminder to enjoy the simple things in life and a reminder to remain calm in challenging times, we send our gratitude.

Last, but not least, to all of the host families that fed our bellies with an array of local dishes, learned new card games with our students late into the night, and showered us with gifts of appreciation and tears as we departed, a big part of this gratitude is dedicated to them. For someone to open up their home and allow us to take an intimate journey into their daily routine is incredibly heartwarming. We’ve had a couple of “homes away from home” this past month and send some love to everyone that invited us into their lives with open arms and ‘jai dee’, or big hearts.

And, finally, to our cherished group of 7 ladies…
We’d love to think back to the moment we all met in the airport or at the hostel in Chiang Mai. Before a traveller sets off into an unknown journey, a mix of emotions may rise. Did you feel nervous about meeting the other group members, excited for a specific portion of the program, or maybe it was a mix of emotions without an attachment to a specific idea?
Take those thoughts and then think about how far we’ve all come since that first day. Those beginning conversations turned into the first group jokes, which turned into new friendships and supportive group dynamics. Your work ethic in Ban Apaa was unmatched, carrying bags of cement and sand up steep slopes. Your engagement into the communities was inspiring, during the fast-paced Akha language lessons or when you allowed the local children to use you as their new play toy. Your ability to remain positive and flexible throughout all that we’ve thrown at you is appreciated, whether it was something as simple as altering breakfast plans or understanding with compassion when we couldn’t give you exact answers about the continuation of our program. You’ve all impressed us in so many ways.

From the technical skills you learned on-site the service project to the softer skills of connecting on a deeper level, take all the things you’ve learned from this semester with you in your toolbelt. Moving forward, we face yet another unknown. What will the early return date mean to you? We encourage you to stay safe and continue to listen to what is best, but also encourage you to continue learning from those around you and challenge yourself to new adventures. Maybe the same mix of emotions that you felt on day one of this program will return, but always remember that this next unknown continues to be an opportunity for personal growth.

Once again, we send our endless gratitude and appreciation for making this semester incredibly special. We’ve been honored to be a small part in your life’s journey and can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

Peace and love from your Sabai 2020 OE’s and friends,
Natalie and Paff

To our last songtaew ride to the airport…thank you!