Bridgid O’Brien is an international Good Shepherd Volunteer in Nong Khai, Thailand, working with an organization that provides care, resources and income-generating opportunities for individuals affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, she holds a B.A. in psychology from Boston College, where she was a dedicated four-year member of the Irish Dance Team and a staff writer and editor for the online college magazine, Her Campus Boston College. She also worked as a teacher’s assistant in a local fifth-grade classroom and spent her summers working at a therapeutic camp for children on the autism spectrum.

After graduation in 2013, Bridgid joined Good Shepherd Volunteers’ domestic program at a placement site in Baltimore, Maryland, where she worked at a residential treatment center for adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disorders as a teacher in their autism and special education school. Then she committed to a second year with Good Shepherd Volunteers. Bridgid is still amazed by the Thai people and the peaceful quiet and stillness of life in Thailand. Working with patients with HIV has ignited a passion for health care in her, and she plans to apply to nurse practitioner programs after finishing her term in Nong Khai.

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Coming home

Notes from the Field - I distinctly remember the first time I referred to a place that was not the physical home of my childhood as my “home.” It was the end of winter break of my freshman year of college and I was talking to my mother about when she would be able to drive me back home.

Remembering my privilege

Notes from the Field - I often have to remind myself what a privileged position I am in to have been able to volunteer for the past two years. While getting a steady paying, career-building job would have been the conventional thing to do after graduation, it was not an absolute necessity.

Slow-motion emotions: Being in the now

Notes from the Field - I’ve known since taking my seat on the 32-hour journey to Nong Khai, and even before, that there would be another eerily similar flight lurking in the future. The difference would be that the next flight would be heading back to the United States, and at the time it seemed light years away.

Without words

Notes from the Field - The heart has a mysterious way of sending the most intimate of messages that the tongue cannot. Due to my status as a non-native, non-fluent Thai speaker, in the 10-and-a-half months I have lived in Thailand, in many situations I have needed to rely on entering into everyday conversations with my heart rather than with my words.