Shortly after returning from the trek I headed off again to the Luce Early Assessment Meeting in Thailand. All 18 scholars + partners and our program coordinators Li Ling and David Kim came together from across Asia to share stories and check in on each other.
The king of Thailand died recently, so the mood in Bangkok was subdued. Everyone, including our group, wore black, white, and grey, and we passed through thousands of mourners crowded outside the royal palace. Our tour of Bangkok included traditional communities, out-of-the-way artist colonies, and beautiful temples. We had a lovely four course meal of Thai food on a boat cruising on the river through Bangkok, and an amazing smorgasbord of breakfast food during which I ate salad for breakfast.
After debriefing with Ling and David in Bangkok, the crew headed to Krabi for resort on the beach. Between dips in the ocean, the crew had long, intense group discussions about the issues we’ve been facing in Asia—issues regarding our identities, contributions to our places of work, American nationality, and how to deal with mental-emotional health abroad.
Once our programming was finished and we said goodbye to Ling and David, most of us headed to Tonsai beach resort, where we spent more time beaching, rock climbing, and snorkeling. After a few days at Tonsai beach, Jen Tu and I headed by ourselves to Koh Phi Phi, a famous Thai island about 2 hours from Krabi. Phi Phi (pronounced P. P.) provided more snorkeling, lots of mango sticky rice, and endless coconut smoothies before we headed home.
Interacting with the Luce scholar class is a truly enlightening experience. It is a privilege to interact with a group of such talented, motivated, inspiring young people, and even more of a privilege to learn to view myself as one of them. I can’t wait for the Lucers to visit Nepal!
Side note: I have an intense pathological fear of heights, and if I’m any more than a few feet off the ground I start to panic and hyperventilate and my muscles freeze. This has happened every time I’ve ever tried a rock wall, and at this point I don’t even like to climb ladders, lean over balconies, or walk up flights of stairs where you can see through the steps (think fire escapes).
The mangoes must have gotten to my head, because despite this lifelong fear I agreed to go rock climbing with the Luce crew. True to form, on my first climb I panicked five feet off the ground, started sobbing, and screamed when I lost my grip on the wall and swung down (which then put me at 2 feet off the ground. Lame as it may sound, 2 feet is terrifying to me). But then I took a break, gritted my teeth, got back on the wall, and climbed to the top, largely thanks to the encouragement and instructions from the Luce crew. Thanks to everyone for helping me reach this major personal accomplishment!
Meet Jessie Moravek
I am a 2018 Fulbright Scholar at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Studying for an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. Click here to learn more about me!