It’s easy to say that the work has been piling on these past few weeks. Between finals and preparing for the independent study project, we’ve all been busy as all get out. That being said, I’ve found it to be a delightful sort of momentum. Last night’s meditation went well, I had a great dinner with our Vajrayanan(Tibetan) Buddhism teacher, and I knocked out an essay with a flury of passion and engaging composition. Meaning to say, writing it was a lot of fun.

That’s the delightful thing about being immersed in a program centered around Buddhism- nearly everything we’ve learned has been of deep interest. There was a short stint where Mahayana (East Asian Buddhism, zen, pureland, etc.) Philosophy was searing my brain and exasperating my more pragmatic side; however, it’s come to be a foundation for analyzing my previously held notions surrounding the topic. It’s through this process of meeting with topics that either disinterest or exhaust me that I’ve gained experienced in building new networks in my mind. In other words, learning how to think in new ways. It just so happens that Im studying Thai at the same time.

Learning a new language absolutely requires the construction of new modes of thought. Cultural nuances, differences in nonverbal language and colloquial speak, paired with a new identity as a foreigner makes for a challenging and constructive amalgamation. I’ve been finding language practice to be the utmost in facing social and intellectual insecurities. I have to be 100% okay with looking like an idiot in order to learn. Considering that I’m soon going to be engaging in interviews with Thai- Speaking people, this’ll have to become a fully immersive process. Looking like a fool to learn again and again.

Being on this program has been difficult. There’ve been times I’ve wanted to leave. Learning how to cope and thrive within an environment that is both unfamiliar and overstimulating has been an opportunity for growth.

I hope to make that growth all for the better.

Pictured here is a group photo with our Vajrayanan teacher, a Bhutanese Khengpo. He has been kind, passionate, and generous in the knowledge he shared. I’m grateful that this program has allowed me to develop a friendship with him. I’ve also included another photo of Wat Suandok, but at night.

Thank you for reading and please take care,

-Alex Davis