Making Choices

College Fair ??

I’ve been to a good number of College Fairs while in America. In elementary school, middle school, high school. College fairs are a way for schools to give kids something to look foward to. A way to say, “When you finish your time here, you can actually have some fun learning.”

Today I saw that American students are missing out, bigg time. Songklah Research University in Southern Thailand had a science fair today, and compared to the ice cream and cotton candy and mini snickers offered at most fairs, I was in pure shock.

Of course there were the obligatory presentations and information boards, but there was more. After walking a couple of blocks away from the central building, I found the pot of gold.

Outside, several blocks were closed off where vendors had set up shop. There were billions of food vendors, clothes vendors, jewelry shops and to my amazement, animal shops. Go to a school fair and come home with a bird or bunny for 150bhts (approx. 5USD), or better yet, a puppy for 500bht (approx 16USD). Jackpot. Any kid would be in heaven. And frankly, I kind was :)

I know I didn’t learn a thing about science today. But this was definitely the best science fair I have ever been to in my life. 

And when you get your thing on, remember where you got your game &where you came from.

— TooShort

Before The Race Is Over

Sometimes you overlook the things you accomplish &the places you’ve gone. I do that often. I tend to follow the philosophy that success is celebrated when you’ve reached the finish line.

This morning I woke up and thought, “Crap, I’m in THAILAND.” I don’t know quite how it happened, and I don’t remember ever feeling uncertain about this. It just seemed like something I had to do. 

Than I thought about it some more and I realized, I come from a refugee family where prior to this summer had never had a college graduate in our midst. My mother doesn’t speak English and we’re definitely on the bottom half of the socioeconomic scale. And yet, here I am. In Thailand on a competitive State Department funded scholarship. 

I’m taking a moment to acknowledge that this is indeed a great accomplishment. And though I am nowhere near the finish line, this seems like a pretty good place to take a water break. 

The Big Things That Come In Little Packages

I like scary movies, always have. But i’m more of a Supernatural kinda gal versus The Human Centipede. I feel like scary movies are meant to make you scream, not feel mentally disturbed (yikes). Lately I’ve been living a scary movie of my own.

Here in Thailand they have a these creatures everywhere .. ants. I know, ants are not really scary. But its not about what they don’t do, its about what they could do. I watch millions of them march from one corner of the wall to the other, I watch them scatter around the kitchen when I do the dishes, and I watch as they dart in and out from under the desks at school. 

Most of them are harmless but sometimes when I’m sitting and I catch an ant walking down the length of my thigh, my heart stops and I suddenly feel a terror creep up on me. My skin feels itchy all over and as I smack at it and flick it off my jeans, I quickly examine the rest of my body to make sure there aren’t more. My fear comes from the fact that ants stay mobbing. If there’s one, there most definitely is more and no matter how hard you try, you will never get all of them.

Once you attract their attention, they come upon you swiftly and you begin to feel like an elephant under attack. At night, when the lights go off and my eyes get heavy, I sleep for about 3seconds before my foot tingles with the familiar crawl of ant feet. I shift and a tingle begins on my shoulder. Before I know it I’m swatting all around determined to get rid of every last one. Panic turning to terror, I turn on the light and find .. my bed is clean as a whistle. Throughout the night this episode repeats itself several times and finally when the roosters crow and the sun creeps over the horizon, I yawn and pray I can catch a couple of hours of sleep. Luckily I do. And I dream (something that has become more common lately).

I dream that I am lying in bed covered in ants from head to toe and I watch as they enter and exit from every hole and crease in my body. I dream about a suffocating death by ants invasion. Finally, I awake brushing quickly at myself and checking the perimeter of my bed. A breath of relief escapes.

This isn’t fear. This constant knowledge that I will never be 100% safe .. This is terrorism in the first degree. 

Rumor Has It

When I was told this past April that I was accepted to go to Thailand for a year, aside from stories about the ‘ladyboys’ what I heard most about was the political tension between the Muslims of the south and the Buddhist population. 

Like most things in life, I figured it was blown out of porportion and completely irrelevant to my trip. This past week I spent several days in Pattani province. A small town close to the boarder, I spent my days relaxing, relaxing and more relaxing.

Today when I arrived home, I was asked about my trip. I mentioned that there were a lot of check points because the province was so close to the Malaysian border. Oh boy was I wrong. Those checkpoints had nothing to do with border control.

It turns out that those tales about political tension and violence were not just a rumor. Pattani Thailand is known for random car bombings and shootings. My assumption was that all of the Military Personnel, and the large guns had everything to do with the location of the Army base and nothing to do with the actual safety of the province. Again, I was reminded not to assume.

So the rumors turned out to be true, and me? Well I’m not sure if Pattani is on my list of future travel plans .. 

Lucky Notes

This morning I woke up in a small town in the South East of Thailand. Known for farming rubber trees and the national park, I was a city girl taken completely out of my element. I stayed there for 3 nights and found out something very important about myself. Too much peace and quiet will eventually drive me crazy.

Tonight I head to bed in a dorm room in Hat Yai, Thailand. One of the largest beachside cities of Southern Thailand. Again, I found this day to be full of surprises, unexpected challenges and awkward attempts at communication. 

But as the day progressed, I found something worth remembering. We walked through the streets of Hat Yai and I saw a quote under a sign that said Lucky Notes.

"If you often have a smile on your face, good luck will naturally come to you."

And so I smiled. And I can say that tonight I am going to sleep a very happy person. 

The Olympics is proof that if we cut out all the bullshit, quit all the talking, and really put our minds and bodies to the test, we can achieve what was once considered impossible. Its not about winning or losing. Its about competing.

— yesshabazz