Global Service Scholar: Alexina Pilo
Over the last three weeks, I have become accustomed to living my daily life on Thai time. The concept of Thai time is one that at first was frustrating and very hard for me to embrace. In Thailand, there is a different set of values and beliefs behind time. Those practicing Thai time do not necessarily get angry or worry about waiting. This could mean waiting for others, waiting for everyone’s food to come out before you start eating at dinner, or waiting in traffic. This particular mindset of time embraces the idea that any given time is an estimate and that if you or others are late everything will be okay. After discussing this concept more with members of our host foundation, I have learned that Thai time became a custom because personal relationships, interactions and the quality of overall things is put above being completely punctual. If you are late, the idea is that you are appreciating and valuing your relationship with others and what you are doing.
In my typical day, I have begun to learn to embrace and practice the concept of Thai time. I do my best to practice the flexibility and openness that this type of time requires. During my mornings, I do not wake up with any set schedule. I go with flow of the day and end up either walking around the city, talking with others within the organization, or in a random café enjoying a glass of iced Thai tea. I am thankful to have two amazing roommates who I am able to converse with in the mornings, and at times tag along with on their adventures.
Everyday around 3-ish Thai time, I travel to my service placement site by bus. The bus ride ranges from about 30 minutes to an hour. At my placement site, I work with 16 amazing children. The positive attitude and charisma that each child expresses makes this part of my day the most rewarding. There is never a set schedule or plan of what we do with the children each day. Our time with them ranges from doing things such as playing soccer, searching for bugs, coloring, doing homework, eating dinner, and playing cards. Each day is different and each day the children surprise me with how much they are able to open up and show their affection. Around 7 p.m., the two other service members and I head home. This daily drive home is one that I am incredibly grateful for. Day after day, this drive has not only been a debriefing and reflecting moment for me but it has been a time for me to bond with and learn more about the members I work with.
Once home, I usually end my day by grabbing dinner and occasionally shopping at the night market with my roommates. Before bed I do my best to write a few notes about highlights of my day and briefly talk to my family and friends in the U.S. As each day passes, the range of what my typical day is like expands. Living on Thai time, the rigidness of my typical schedule is slowly beginning to be eliminated and with it the stress that I once held within my daily life.