Thursday, July 7, 2011

Past Volunteer Lili sends her love to Asia!

One of our past volunteers, Lili Kinsman, recently forwarded to us here in Laos a copy of two newspaper articles written about her time on the GVI project when she got back home to America! We were so excited to read all about it, and Sam (a field staffer in Lung Prabang) contacted Lili to ask if she would mind writing something for our blog. Lili was thrilled to, and sent through this lovely and touching journal entry....enjoy!

New Year’s Eve, Luang Prabang

The town is just buzzing with excitement today! Only 3:00 pm and the festivities are underway. I love that the Lao people decorate ON the day of the celebration – so much more meaningful than Christmas decorations in September. No surprise that Hallmark holidays seem so … contrived…repulsive? This morning whole buildings were being swathed in hundreds of yards of colorful fabrics – everywhere lights are being hung for the ‘beee pah-tee’ tonight. The curfew, normally 11:00 pm, is being lifted so all the falang can ring in 2011. Savan, our ‘house’ mother and her daughters ~ Duie, Philain, Teti and numerous other family members have been gathered together, peeling, mashing, mixing, grilling and otherwise creating mouth-watering delights for us to eat at dinner time since early this morning. The Lao-Lao (Lao rice whiskey, a.k.a ~ jet-engine fuel) will pour like the waterfalls that surround this beautiful and most wondrous place this evening. It’s an infectious vibe and I love it. Tonight, many nations (my fellow teachers are mostly Aussie and English, I am the ‘token’ North American…but tonight we are all Lao) and generations ( we range in age from 17 to 50 something) will gather in this little ham-shaped , land-locked country and celebrate living….and not just living…but life. So much to be grateful for! For us falang, we are thankful that these amazing, gentle people have taken us into their homes, their country, their way of being, with arms wide open, so to speak… physical displays of affection are generally considered a social ‘no-no’, but it matters little, because their genuine smiles ~ wider than the river that separates Lao from its more ‘Coca-Colonized’ neighbors ~ deep ‘nops’ and open hearts are more heartfelt than any hugs or kisses you’d receive in any other part of the world. Greed and ostentatious displays of wealth are looked down upon, no matter how much you have. Not good for the over-all karma of the Lao perspective…here it really is “One Love.” The Lao share all ~ love, happiness, good luck, sickness, health, ‘baw’ (pronunciation: like paw, as in dog’s ‘paw’ ~ translation – ‘no or bad’) ~ as if they were truly one unit. I’ve never seen this up close and personal. I’ve been here now…what less than 3 weeks? I feel this place molding me…softly and without any tension…into? The woman I am meant to be? I am putty in their tiny hands. Shape me. I am more malleable than ever. I am a better human being because this place exists. Tabla Rasa – I am an empty slate and I have never been more fulfilled. Happiest New Year indeed.