I’ve been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out a way to stay in Thailand to continue on in the prevention of human trafficking. As stated earlier, my NGO offered me a management position – one that I would jump at, but they are lacking funds so I’m not guaranteed regular financial support which seriously downgrades the offer. I also have a couple leads on English teaching jobs north of Bangkok but they are less than perfect and would take me away from the work that I love and came here for. I was seriously considering returning to the U.S. for the summer to work and sell some belongings, but then there’s the cost of a return flight and no guaranteed job in the lower 48. Oh, the dilemmas.
Last week, a friend and fellow volunteer told me she has a neighbor who runs a school here in Mae Sai and is in desperate need of an English teacher. I called her the next day and interviewed two hours later. I was hired immediately. I start on Monday. The job is part-time which allows me to continue working with DEPDC/GMS. It also puts some much-needed cash in hand. The school is the Great Thai Academy – a private school for privileged Thai kids. I will teach grades 1-3. I’m used to teaching underprivileged Burmese and hill tribe kids (most of whom are ages 14 to 25). They are stateless, humble, eager to learn, and absolutely delightful. This will be something entirely different. The school is wealthy; the kids have uniforms and parents with cash, and they don’t have to cross the Burmese border everyday to come to school in Thailand. In some ways, teaching at a private school is like getting a foot in the door with the community’s elite – the upper echelon of this strange border city. For me, it’s strictly a means to an end. Earn money from the wealthy to continue serving those who are not.
This job is a godsend in many ways and I can’t really walk away from the offer. I haven’t signed a contract so if it’s not a good fit, I’m free to walk away. I hate that I’ll be away from DEPDC/GMS for 14 hours per week but a girl’s gotta eat so a girl’s gotta do what she do. It’s ironic, really, that I have been working full-time for the last five months with no pay whatsoever, but I am fulfilled, content, happy even. Further proof that money doesn’t equal happiness. Who needs bank accounts and paychecks and tax deductions and these pieces of paper we’ve given so much meaning and value to? Oh, right. All of us.
Technically, I’m prohibited from working in Thailand. My tourist visa expired long ago. I leave the country every 15 days so I can stay without the threat of deportation. I most certainly don’t have a work permit but Mae Sai is a renegade border city – where illegalities and police bribery run rampant so I guess this sort of works in my favor. As for teaching English to primary kids, talk to me in a week and we’ll see if I’ve pulled my hair out or not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the job. And astounded that it landed in my lap quite effortlessly and that I don’t have to pack up and move or leave DEPDC/GMS. I must thank Ms. Jessica Yee, international volunteer/med student, for opening the door. It enables me to stay a little longer. How much longer remains unknown.
Yours in earning money from the rich to provide services to the poor,