Embarking on my second trip with the Global Youth Service Team to the border to work with BGET, I was expecting it to be very similar to my first trip in 2007. However, what I ended up getting out of the trip was so much more than I could have hope for. This summer in Mae Sot lasted about a week longer than my first one. It did not seem like a week could make that much of a difference but it was that much more time to get to know the BGET crew, work with students, and teach people in the area about photovoltaic systems and UV water purification.
Working in a foreign country, even if it isn’t for the first time, is not easy. Three weeks is not really enough time to get fully acclimated to the weather, the electric systems we were installing and repairing, the stress on your body of digging holes, or to learn to speak Thai/Burmese/Karen. However, it is amazing to me how easy it was to enjoy this work and communicate with people, regardless of the cultural and language differences. The smiles on the faces of all the children at the schools where we worked seemed to make me forget about all the sweat pouring off my body and the minor cuts and blisters that came with the effort and exertion.
To be able to work with such a dedicated organization as the Border Green Energy Team, twice, is really a privilege more so than actual “work”. Their “no serious” attitudes and knowledge are contagious. It is obvious that they all love what they do and appreciate anyone willing to join them and help their cause. If you ever get the chance to leave your everyday life for a period of time and go work with this group to bring sustainable energy, clean water, and the know how to maintain these systems to children along the border, my advice would be to not think twice. It is impossible to express the impact that these people had on my life and if our work helped even just one child learn a little more by being able to study at night, or not get sick because of having clean water, then it is all worth it. Not to mention, I have every ounce of confidence that the work done by both GYST and BGET will have this effect on way more than just one child.