Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finding Community (June 9, 2011)

            I came into this program not knowing anyone else in the group. In fact, no one else is even from the east coast. I attend Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and call LaGrange, Georgia my home. Thankfully, we all have in common a desire to learn more about music therapy. And now, the seventh day of travel, I feel like I have found a community with the strangers of last week.

            After nearly missing the plane in San Francisco, my seat neighbor suggested I make a sign that said, “Got Music Therapy?” and walk up and down the aisles of the airplane to try to find my group. That is how I found Brighton, Rianne, and Daniel above the Pacific Ocean. In Tokyo-Narita I met most everyone else and we talked a little about music therapy and ourselves.

            In our group, similarities are exciting to me as well as differences. Similarities that bind our group community together are music therapy, love of travel, openness to learning and new experiences, and general age of the students. I also share an interest in yoga with a few in the group, especially my roommate Sarah, and we do yoga every morning.

Along with all of these similarities, differences make our group unique and diverse. The first obvious difference for me was location and geographical background. I am the only person in the group currently from the east coast, yet I am not the only person who is from a different place. Everyone from the University of Kansas calls a different state home. Brighton and Rianne hail from Colorado and Sarah represents Michigan and Montana. This geographically diverse group also shares differences in educational training. Rianne and Brighton come from a school with a Neurological Music Therapy perspective. Sarah is in school for physical therapy. Everyone has different teachers and influences in their education process. Geography and education do not even cover differences in taste and preference for music, movies, and food. Each difference is positive for me because they are interesting and they allow me to expand my knowledge.

The most magical part of this community is our commonality in our journey to Thailand. Look at us from a therapeutic slant, and you might say during this first week we are building rapport. I think the rapport is being built so fast because we are in this strange experience together. It is rather like being on a different planet. We do not know the language, nor do we know the food, let alone how to chase down a taxi or do a music therapy group at the rehabilitation center. But I think we will learn all of these things together, and there is some comfort in that.

Another situation my friends in the group have helped me with is sickness. I have always had a sensitive stomach, and the food has not agreed with me since Monday. I get many concerned questions as to how I am feeling. Dr. Dena and her husband make sure I am safe. Brighton and Rianne agree to bring me rice and Daniel looks at me with concerned eyes and says, “Aw, honey.” All in all, being sick in Thailand is not so terrible when there are so many supportive friends around. As I know from experience, “this too shall pass”. Hopefully I will arrive in Krabi feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Looking forward, I hope and believe that our community will form closer bonds that will last even beyond this adventure and into the next. I am grateful for the community, and I am now, happily, feeling better than I did an hour ago. However sick I may be, there are things to be grateful for, such as my ceiling fan, which blows cool air in my room.

I would love to hear other perspectives on our community. For now, I will say, sawatdii ka (goodbye)!


  1. Sara-I'll be coming to Thailand soon and I hope I'll get to meet you along with your cohorts. I grew up in Virgina, and while I'm not part of your group, you'll have another Southerner who understands the importance of y'all. Hope your tummy settles down and assuming you'll still be there when I arrive in early July, please let me know if I can bring you something from the US!

  2. Hi Sara!

    I am so glad that you are finally feeling better :) It is so great to see you up and about with the group!! I was feeling at least some of your pain with the stomach/food thing--but luckily this seems to go away after about a week to 10 days! I kept thinking "this too shall pass" as well (ask Daniel, we talked about the Hebrew version). It's such an interesting phrase to me because it applies to this trip in so many ways. To feelings of sickness, itchy bugbites, 1,200 mountain steps.. but also on the flip-side, but passing of the trip. We are already done with 2 of 4 and a half weeks! Is that possible?

  3. I am very happy to say I feel the friendships we make and the people we meet in this group WILL continue after this trip is over. I feel like we also have grown just from meeting each other and can help each other in our future careers!

  4. Sarah I'm so glad you feel comfortable with our group! I was a little anxious about the same thing, but I love our group dynamics and I think we're going to help each other grow a lot while we're here. Can't wait to experience he rest of the trip together!

  5. I'm also really excited about how we've bonded! I think that our friendships will last (we'll hopefully see each other at conferences and such!) and we now have even more contacts and fellow MT-BCs-to-be to turn to for advice and guidance down the road!