Location: Bangkok

Today was an exciting and exhilarating day for all of us. We started with our usual routine of the breakfast, some eating sushi, and others eating our traditional breakfast. We gathered in the lobby all wearing matching bright orange shirts (given to us by the DPF) which not only made us look like tourists but also awesome firefighters. We all went into the bus and waited anxiously for what was to come to DHUN, DHUN, DHUN (read that in a deep/scary tone)! Arriving at our location, we were soon acquainted with many volunteers of the Duang Prateep fire safety squad. We learned that anyone can volunteer and that this NGO has the most number of fire volunteers in Thailand. It was inspiring to learn that people would volunteer their free time to help others.

After ourbrief discussion, we headed outside for a fire demonstration and training on how to put out propane and gasoline fires which occur often in this neighborhood where people are cooking with propane and the water can be very polluted. They showed us many different ways how to turn off the fire from a propane tank. Everyone may have different amazing stories but mine was one of the most fascinating stories. When they lit the first flame was the moment I knew that I had little time to be a hero. Soon the fire had spread and I knew it was time. I ran to the area of the fire as fast as I could and I felt my heart racing because I knew that I had an obligation to turn this burning “building” off and help the people in need. As I got to the orangy-red flames ,I quickly and swiftly squeezed the fire extinguisher while pointing it at the fire. The fire started to die down but I didn’t back down yet I continued until every last flame was gone. I had defeated the monster. At that moment right there I knew, I knew that I had learned how to save lives. I had transported myself into the mindsets of the Thai fire volunteers and had experienced what they have. We were one and the same :). After our lesson, we had an amazing meal cooked by them. I could not believe that is from the South of the US I had to come all the way to Thailand to taste some of the most amazing chicken wings that I have ever tasted. After our meal, we took a tour through the slums and markets. This was an amazing but sad moment for all of us. We got to see many smiling faces but seeing the living conditions of them was saddening. It made us all really appreciate what we have and the opportunities we have. Coming back to the hotel we had a few hours for free time. A few of us went to get traditional Thai massages, it was one of the most relaxing times of my life. We soon learned that we would be heading to a restaurant called Cabbage and Condoms. This restaurant is part of a program that does AIDS education program around Thailand. Part of the proceeds went to programs. The restaurant had all sorts of condom statues. It was an interesting way to learn about AIDS awareness. All in all this day was one of my favorite days, I cannot wait for what is to come.