The weeks are flying by. I thought I would escape the rat race that is America by coming to Southeast Asia, but I certainly have my own version of it here. This week has been eventful with many new developments.
MTV EXIT held a human trafficking awareness workshop at DEPDC/GMS and while their content was a bit graphic for our audience, I respect what they are doing in this region of the world and I look forward to attending their mega-concert in Chiang Mai on June 25 to raise awareness on the prevention of human trafficking. I also look forward to potentially working with them further in the future.
Last Tuesday, the International Department (“Team ID”) was invited to Sompop Jantraka’s house for a slumber party. Sompop (founder of DEDPC/GMS) just happens to have an Olympic sized swimming pool at his house so we were in heaven. Something surprising came my way when Sompop met with me privately back in Mae Sai and informed me that I had been “selected” to stay on with DEPDC/GMS. He essentially said that he would like me to stay long-term (1 to 3 years). He said he thinks I have valuable things to contribute to DEPDC/GMS and that he thinks we have a good working relationship. He respects that I am direct (I’m pretty sure it’s the Sicilian in me) and he said I do not have to leave if I don’t want to. It’s an amazing offer and one I intend to seriously consider. God speed.
I made a visit to the Drop In Center – a Christian organization working to support Burmese street kids who come into Mae Sai daily to beg on the street. They are lacking funds, like most NGOs in the current global economy, but they are doing their best to support the children and send a few to school full-time. They don’t currently have a website so I offered to start one for them. The kids are amazing. Most of them are Akha so we have our challenges communicating but it’s easy to fall in love with them. I intend on returning to lead a hygiene workshop and do some arts and crafts.
In other news, I’m due to head to Bangkok in two days and board my flight back to the U.S. I can’t believe these months have gone by so quickly. I am not ready to leave and have decided to extend my flight. Can’t leave, won’t leave, not ready to leave. Simple as that. As the weeks progress, I have three options as I currently see it:
- Accept a long-term position with DEPDC/GMS and commit to staying in the field of human trafficking prevention where I am happy and content for the first time in my professional life.
- Leave DEPDC/GMS to teach English in central Thailand for a period of time to earn and save money so I can continue on in NGO work here or somewhere else at a later time. (Big thanks to Lindsay and Stephen for being my English teaching advocates down south!)
- Return to America to regroup, sell some of my possessions, take a temporary job to earn some quick cash, and make plans for the next step.
Decisions, decisions. All dependent on money unfortunately. I’ve had some amazing job offers for teaching English. One in particular was in Bangkok and involved teaching English to women in the women’s prison as a part of a rehabilitation program. The other part of the job involved teaching English to the children in the slums. I would’ve jumped at this immediately but it was only a part-time position and a girl can’t support herself in Bangkok on part-time wages. So, we’ll see how the weeks unfold. How does the saying go? Expect the best, prepare for the worst?
This weekend, I taught six English classes at English World – a private English language school here in Mae Sai. They pay 300 baht per hour ($10) which is pretty damn good for this area so I jumped at the chance. Teaching rich Thai kids is nowhere near as rewarding as teaching Burmese kids who have nothing. In a battle of the haves versus the have-nots, I’m going with the latter every time. The umbilical cord of privilege is so unrecognizable to those who have it. I say send them to Burma and give ’em a dose of reality!
My CLC students at DEPDC/GMS, on the other hand, are amazing. I’m astounded by their resilience and intellect. They never cease to amaze me and it’s incredible to witness their progress. I’m honored to be their teacher and overjoyed to be a part of their lives. If this is the closest I ever get to parenthood, it is enough. It is more than enough. They make me so damn happy.