Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sawat Di Phi Mai (Happy New Year)

Ran and I spent the last three day’s in Udon Thani celebrating the Thai New Year with Ran’s family. We both had a great time, but I had some minor issues such as strange insect bites on by rear-end and a redneck sunburn. New Years here is a water festival celebrating the beginning of the rainy season. Its an all out water war and is so much fun. we filled two large garbage pails with water and drove through the city in the back of a pick-up truck throwing water on everyone we could. Some people put Ice cubes in their water, which makes it not so funny when you are the recipient of that water, but that’s allright. I love visiting Ran’s family because there are lots of kids and they are so cute and they call me auntie Nina. Ran’s mom passed away when he was a teenager. His dad never remarried and continues to live surrounded by Ran’s mother’s family. He has his own house, but the property has three houses on it, which belong to family and about 15 of the houses throughout the village are Ran’s aunts, uncles and cousins. So we have plenty of visiting and eating to do whenever we get to Udon Thani. Udon is about 7 hours by bus from Ubon and this is the biggest holiday of the year, so we had to buy our tickets way early. The bus was overfilled and there were more people standing in the aisle than sitting. Ran and I were in the second pair of seats and couldn’t get to the back of the bus to use the toilet. I had to ask the driver to stop so I could get out at a gas station and go. Anyway, we are back home now and getting ready to resume summer classes at the house tomorrow. Check out the photos from our trip here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Interesting News

I have two major news items to report. First and foremost, I went to Bangkok lat weekend to defend my thesis. My defense was successful and I will graduate in May with a Master of Arts in International Relations. The second bit of great news is that I flew back to Bangkok again and made a presentation on Wednesday night titled “Starting a Grassroots Non-Profit Organization.” The presentation was at Webster and they paid me, paid for my flights, 2 nights in a hotel and gave me spending money. The presentation went extremely well and I did some great networking. It was really good publicity for HELP! and we have a few different organizations coming to do site visits and some volunteering in the next 2 months.