Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to Reality

Hey readers it’s Shelby Riley here for one last post.
Upon returning home I have been asked many times about my experience in Thailand.  After thinking about this I have so many different words that come to mind; amazing, eye opening, beautiful, emotional, stressful, sleep-less. While these words are all very relevant, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way to describe this trip, life changing.

I have now been back in my hometown of Boulder Colorado for a month. After the group had departed I was lucky enough to have my mom come meet me in Bangkok and travel to Phuket and Khoa Lak. This was a much more laid back part of the trip and allowed me time to reflect on everything that had happened in the past month.

When I got home everyone I came across was curious about my trip. People I had not seen since high school as well as relatives would ask the question that I know we have all received. “What was your favorite part?” Whenever I am asked this questions hundreds of things come flooding back to me. I have a very hard time picking just one answer, and the response of “the whole trip” isn’t specific enough for most people. But the truth is, there are no words that can sum up how much my experience has impacted me. So I will share two of my absolute FAVORITE parts of the trip.

To start off, I was given the opportunity to work in multiple settings with children with Cerebral Palsy, a population I had never known much about and never thought of the effects music therapy can have. This has now been something I have thought about every single day since returning. For me one of the most life changing points of our trip was our visit to Baan Fuengfa children’ s orphanage. (For more information see Voonyin’s amazing blog post “Bring the Sunshine in Your Heart”). We had the opportunity to work with 55 clients under the age of seven with Cerebral Palsy. Going into the session we had no idea how the session was going to go. Each of us had two to three clients while the session was lead by one of the wonderful Thai students, Karn. I have never felt so many emotions in my life. The look on the children’s faces as they heard, saw and felt the music that THEY were creating is something that will forever be in my heart. The smiles and laughter filled the room and as I looked around I saw how deeply it impacted each one of us.

To top off this fabulous experience, the thing that has made me most grateful for being on the trip was the amazing group of classmates, teachers, interns and tour guides that I was fortune enough to be with. I know it may sound cliché, but I really do believe life long friendships were created during our time in Thailand. I was nervous going into the trip, only being close friends with one other classmate, but quickly learned that these were people who were meant to be in my life. 

We experienced things together that only made us grow closer such as climbing to the top of the Tiger Temple, countless trips to the store across from our apartment, spending 12 hours on a bus on the way to Krabi, singing karaoke in a random restaurant and zip-lining through the Chaing Mai Mountains to name a few. I look forward to continued friendships and am truly blessed to have met each and every one of them.

I am thankful for the things I learned about music therapy, Thailand and myself throughout this experience. I will be forever grateful for opening my eyes to possibility, the push to step out of my comfort zone and the life long friendships that were created.

This is not goodbye Thailand!

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