Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Live Like a PCV Challenge

Inspired by a 'Live Like a Peace Corps Volunteer' challenge created by PCV's in Mongolia, I've adapted it to my Peace Corps experience to come up with 'Live like a PCV Challenge: Thailand Edition' as a way of sharing a some of my daily experiences here.  If you're interested in completing the challenge, please do - and tell me about your experience!

Live like a PCV Challenge: Thailand Edition

*Peace Corps currently has volunteers serving in countries all over the world.  While every country is different, every Peace Corps Volunteer makes sacrifices and adjustments from the country and culture they come from in order to successfully integrate into their host country and culture.  All volunteers in Thailand have unique experiences with varying levels of difficulties and sacrifices.  This challenge is based on some common experiences of Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Thailand, specifically the experience of a PCV living in the northeast region of Thailand. Choose a week that you want to dedicate to the challenge and pick the level you think you can complete. Keep a journal, write a blog, or find a challenge buddy and share your experiences throughout the week.  It’s up to you to keep yourself honest (think about it: PCV’s live with a lot of these situations for the majority of their 27 months of service – this is just 7 days)! 

Level 1 – Mosquito (choose two)
  • No microwave
  • No washing machine (hand wash clothes only)
  • No credit/debit cards – all purchases must be made with cash
  • No hot showers
Level 2 – Monkey (choose two, plus one from level 1)
  • No use of the oven.  You can use a single stove-top burner only
  • No television
  • No internet at home (internet at work or school only)
  • Buy all food and produce locally
  • No fast food
Level 3 – Dog (choose two, plus one from level 2 or two from level 1)
  • No navigation systems – if you need directions somewhere you need to ask someone how to get there
  • No temperature adjustments at home or in the car (air conditioning, heat)
  • Start and finish a book
  • Eat all dinners at home with family
  • Dress code for work/school: females – no shorts/skirts above the knee, no revealed shoulders.  males – collared shirt and long pants
Level 4 – Tiger (choose two plus: one from level 3, or two from level 2, or three from level 1)
  • No running water for showers
  • Greet everyone you encounter with personal questions (without any small talk introductions) such as: Where are you going? Where have you been? What are you doing today? Have you eaten yet? What are you having for dinner? Where are you going this weekend? What did you eat for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner)?
  • No driving.  You can use a bicycle, public transportation, or rely on rides from friends or family members
  • Internet access for only one day
  • Listen to the national anthem every day at 8am and 6pm, while standing respectfully (times may be adjusted slightly for work/school schedules)
Level 5 – Elephant (choose two plus one from each previous level)
  • No English, except at work/school
  • Eat rice with at least 2 meals per day
  • No electricity two nights this week.  You can use only the battery life of electronic devices (this includes no internet)
  • No refrigerator use
  • No running water for three evenings (can be consecutive or not)
Keep a journal during the week and make notes of your experiences at the end of each day.  Write down any questions that come up during the week about your personal sacrifices or cultural differences.  Be honest! If you find one day particularly challenging or are unable to complete the full challenge, do what you can and tell me about it! See what happens and take a look at the questions below. 

At the end of the week, take a few minutes to reflect on your experience and consider the following questions:
  1. Were you able to complete the challenge at the level you chose?  If so, do you think you could complete a higher level? (Try it!) If not, what stood in the way of completion?
  2. What was the most difficult thing about this challenge?
  3. Did your personal challenge affect other people in your life?  If so, how?  How did they respond? 
  4. What did you learn during this week?
  5. What questions came up during this challenge or after completion? 
I'd love to hear about any and all experiences you might have with the challenge, whether it's succeeding at level 5 for a week, doing level 1 for a month, or trying level 3 for 2 days and hating it.  Feel free to e-mail your experiences, comments, or questions to  Chok dii (good luck)!

Want to learn more or share your experiences with more people? Check out/join this Facebook group and share your thoughts!

These kids survive without internet...can you?