By Cass Jorgensen – 8 week intern
I am going on my third day at KSES and couldn’t be happier with my decision to come here. Based on the last three days, I am very much looking forward to the next two months. Upon arrival I was greeted by all the staff members and welcomed into the village. The family that is providing my home stay has been amazing and so kind. We do not speak the same language; but their smiles and polite gestures speak loudly.
After my first day’s introduction I sat with my homestay family, we prepared and cooked an amazing dinner. Honestly, my pickiness of food had me worried that I would be starved out here, but I have enjoyed every single meal. After dinner Ceeva, one of my hosts, gave me many blessings to welcome me. It was so sweet. She made me feel as though it wasn’t an obligation to have me, but an honour.
On my second day we hiked to see the elephants where I got to feed Gen Thong and Boon Rott bananas. Our group then faded into the background and observed the majestic animals in their natural habitat for the next hour and a half. We enjoyed our lunches with the mahouts, while Dodo lingered in the background, and Too Meh and Mae Doom were foraging on the closest mountain top. A scene I had dreamt of seeing my entire life. As I stood there, all I could think to myself was: I have worked my whole life to be right here, in this moment.
On my third day the villagers asked us if we could give them a hand with clearing a path in the forest to ensure a fire wouldn’t spread. All of us came together, some of us not speaking the same language, and worked in harmony until the job was completed. Our lunch break was full of exchanging and sharing foods whilst snapping a few photos. It was a long, hard, labour filled morning, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere other than exactly where I was.
I am a United States Marine Corps Veteran; Feeling whole and finding peace since returning from war has been an impossible mission, but I am starting to think it may be possible to find here.