It’s time for another student story on our blog! Today’s reflection comes from KJ P., one of our incredible alumni travelers. KJ’s journey with RLT began in 2016 when she joined our Bonaire: Bon Bini program. This past summer, KJ continued her travels on our Thailand program, where she took part in community service projects working at an elephant sanctuary and teaching English to Thai students. We are thrilled that KJ plans to join us on another trip this coming summer! According to KJ’s trip leaders, she was a joy to have in the group, constantly making everyone around her feel welcomed and comfortable with her kindness and acceptance, and that her thoughtfulness and deep thinking strengthened the group every day. Continue reading to hear what KJ has to say about gratitude, building lasting friendships, and expanding her horizons.
How To Say Thank You: A Reflection by KJ
How do you say thank you? A quick “wow! thanks,” a long written letter, a simple nod and smile? The vast possibilities of how to express gratitude surround me, yet I can’t seem to choose an adequate, appropriate option. How can I say thank you for the life-changing experience that molded me into a more well-rounded person? It seems as though anything I say will not, and cannot, suffice. But here I go, embarking on an attempt to express my gratitude in a concrete fashion.
Thailand, thank you. With smiles across their faces, citizens welcomed my group with open arms into their home. From Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand never failed to amaze me with the fascinating architecture that popped out around every corner. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to be adventurous concerning the culinary aspect of the trip, and I never imagined what I would find. With an excited yet nervous mindset, I tried a vast variety of foods ranging from chicken blood to fresh durian. Immersed in the rich culture of Thailand, I realized the entrancing complexity and diversity of the world through talking with monks, students, and our Thai guides. Thank you for everyone who welcomed us and made us feel at home. By having such gracious and encouraging people by our side, it allowed us to be curious and expand our horizons through learning about and experiencing the welcoming atmosphere of the cities and towns of Thailand.
Thank you to my leaders: Peter, Mara, and Keenan. The compassion, humor, and kindness that spread throughout the trip made the experience phenomenal. I never imagined having leaders who came more prepared, smiling, and genuinely caring about the well-being of each member of the group. Peter, thank you for your witty humor and always making everyone laugh and smile. You brought an interesting, intelligent perspective in conversations, whether about warped time in space or the fundamental ideals and morals of buddhism. Mara, thank you for constantly beaming positivity and kindness whenever the time and whatever the situation. From sitting in the back of the pickup avoiding fire ants to chilling in the temple to beat the heat, you always kept us cheerful and upbeat. Keenan, thank you for always being a helping hand to all and genuinely listening when people wanted to talk. From playing the flute to being the group photographer, you brought a calm, welcoming presence that balanced the group. Through the memories made in Thailand, my leaders taught by example invaluable lessons that apply to many aspects of my life.
And finally, thank you to my group. Thank you for the never-ending jokes, the intelligence and the genuine enjoyment shared among us. I will never forget the 7am wake ups at the Mae Rim Lagoon with the breakfast club to play cards, talk, and be the first ones to get waffles and omelets. Thank you for the competitive environment that constantly playing cards fostered, whether UNO, gin rummy, or spit. Thank you for creating English lessons at night and laughing until we cried (did you know that people with brown eyes can see better in the dark?) Thank you for the brilliant capacity to love, empathize, and care for one another, developed through life stories and priceless conversations. Learning about everyone provided a diverse perspective on the life and values of high schoolers from around the country. These 12 pretty gorls impacted my life in a way I will remember forever. The beautiful individuality that each person radiated created a unique closeness despite our differences. The relationships and atmosphere fostered during those 21 days demonstrates how people create home wherever they are.
I do not think I will be able to repay to you all for what this trip gave to me. Which draws me to the conclusion that I still don’t know how to say thank you. This trip gave me the courage to speak out and tell my story, a deeper perspective on what the world consists of and its diversity, and a chance to meet and befriend the most entertaining, compassionate, and genuine people I’ve met. So for the last time, Khop Kuhn Ka!