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Hello from Thailand!

When I applied to the Peace Corps in the fall of 2011, I thought I knew myself pretty well. In fact, I thought I was the person I was going to be and I just couldn't wait to share that person with the world as an ambassador from our great nation.

As it turns out, I didn't know shit. I'm a 26 year old graduate of Barnard College with a degree in Economics. Sounds okay on paper, no? Well, eighteen months into my Peace Corps service in Thailand, the only thing I know for certain is how little I know. The sheer optimism and raw idealism I arrived with did not get me very far. They did, however, prove to be active catalysts for many experiences I've had, and I feel supremely lucky for the humbling opportunity to rethink everything I thought I knew.

"Challenging" doesn't really capture the lows I've felt as a Peace Corps volunteer, nor does "sunshine and rainbows" do the positive justice. Just about everything I've learned, I've learned the hard way. This experience has afforded me the time and space to absorb what it means to be a stranger in a strange land. I've used this time and space to reflect a lot on identity. What is my personal identity? What are the many parts that comprise it? What do I want them to be?

Two elements of my identity that haven't been easy to express in Thailand are my womanhood and my Jewishness. These aspects of myself have been truly fascinating to explore in a country where being both a woman and Jewish are treated differently than in my communities in the US. I hope that my journey will contribute to the continuing dialogue on this blog in a unique, dynamic way.

Until next time!


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Jes Milberg-Haydu
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Jes Milberg-Haydu.
Courtesy of Jes Milberg-Haydu.
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How to cite this page

Milberg-Haydu, Jes. "Hello from Thailand!." 16 June 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 19, 2019) <>.


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