Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Back Home

When I arrived back from Africa a couple of years ago I wrote a poem called “Home but not Home.” I am feeling this way today. After three days of being home I find myself slipping in time and space between Thailand and Minneapolis.

Images of Thailand spin in my mind & keep me awake. I say to myself "I am in Minneapolis not Thailand. Go to sleep" However I know better. In Buddhist villages during Songkran a string is threaded from the temple to every home & connects everyone to the Buddha. I believe that one strand of that string attaches my heart to the land, culture & the people. So a part of me remains in Thailand & part of Thailand remains in me.

LA was a perfect transition point before coming back to Minnesota. I was staying in Korea Town and was able to hear an Asian language, had noodles for breakfast and gave and received a bow. Home Sweet home! Another 45% of the population was Latino and spoke primarily Spanish and I don't. So it was not much different then being in Thailand. When the Fed ex man spoke to me in English I almost didn't understand him.

Now when I awake in the morning in Minneapolis I look around my room expecting to be gazing through a mosquito net but there is none. My windows are closed and covered with curtains rather than open with the sun pouring into my room through the grates. In the quiet of the morning I expect to hear the temple bell, the monk’s chant, the rooster's crow, the migrant worker's shout, and the motorcycle's sputter. These were unwelcome sounds in Thailand that invaded my morning sleep. Now these sounds only remain in my imagination. However when I awake in Minneapolis the quiet is deafening.

I would like to share with you one of the major accomplishments while I was in Thailand. The training of Burmese monks by Fortune staff was a breakthrough on several levels. The Burmese monks were trained by two women and a young man. One older man stated that he had never seen monks being trained by women. The Fortune staff realized that they did have knowledge and skills to share with Monks and gained confidence in their abilities. The counselors were able to adapt and create a mental health session for the particular needs of the monks. This process released them from thinking that they needed to follow previous trainings word for word. They now know that they can create specific targeted programs for different audiences. Most importantly the training provided both knowledge about mental health for the monks.

I wish to thank you all for your support. I was not able to answer every email but know I appreciated each one and they helped me feel connected to my home. This ninth and final email brings to a close my sharing of this journey. I hope you enjoyed the correspondence.

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