The decision to teach in Thailand was not one I had originally planned on making. It started off alone, in bed, where I had already spent too many hours contemplating the idea of a “future”. I wanted to do more; I wanted to see more. The thoughts of a post-graduation profession began to swirl with dizzying momentum. How was I going to find a job I wanted when I was still on the path of discovering my passions? What did it mean to be “successful”? Would I be happy? Was I ready to settle to down?
And after a torrent of these thoughts, I opened my computer and left the magic up to the wondrous workings of a search engine. I typed in the words “traveling to make a difference”.
Greenheart Travel was one of the first results to pop up. As I scoured the website, little by little I realized what I wanted my next step to be. By becoming a first time educator, I hope to build upon my love for learning and ignite an infectious passion within those I teach.
Teaching is not just about social studies or science, it is about how you rise to meet the world. It is about kindness, patience, resiliency, and understanding.
I am eager to experience a culture based upon Buddhism rather than Christianity. Buddhism is a philosophy I was introduced to at a young age, and it has filtered in and out of my life ever since. The possibility to be surrounded by a culture that has a social psyche deeply ingrained by this ideology would, no doubt, be a transcendental experience.
The prioritization of their social harmony is emboldened through their profound generosity and reciprocity with one another. Karma is the core of all action, and the giver of all gifts; it is the memory of the universe. It wouldn’t hurt to be reminded of this periodically throughout the ebb and flow of my new, daily routine and interactions.
I am expecting the hardest adjustment to be the language barrier. Being able to talk to someone about how your day was or what you are feeling is important to keep the symptoms of isolation at bay. I would not only call this my “hardest adjustment”, I would call it a fear, and it isn’t so much the language barrier as it is the effects of loneliness left in its wake.
I know everything will be new to me, and, in turn, it will create a blanket of unfamiliarity, but I want to gain the confidence of living alone and, most importantly, thriving alone. It is important for me to create a sense of independence and to develop a backbone of faith within my own strength from this venture. I keep reminding myself, our biggest fears are our biggest spaces for growth.
In the beginning, I checked out a massive pile of books from the library. I read about the history, the culture, the way of life. At the same time, I have found myself shying away from reading too much. Part of the experience and excitement for me is seeing this all first hand. Looking at photos of ornate temples and bustling markets seems to somewhat detract from the surprise of the experience that awaits me.
I have tried to keep a good balance of knowledge and curiosity. I talked to acquaintances and neighbors who had visited or knew someone who lived there. It seemed like each time I mentioned Thailand, someone would pop out of the wood works with a personal anecdote or tell me about Bobby’s cousin or Susie May’s step sister who works there, and, suddenly, the world shrunk a little. It didn’t seem so big or so foreign. In all honesty, most of the time, it has felt like I’m running around with my head cut off.
Home, as alluded to by the quotation marks, is subjective. Home can be a house, a person, a space in the woods. Home, more importantly, is largely intangible. It is felt through the heart and not the fingers.
With this being said, I will miss the smells of sweet magnolia drifting through the wind; I will miss nights out on the porch; I will miss the drive out to Beaver Lake. But, I know that home is not limited to one space or person or road, it can be found within slivers and slices all over the world. There is potential for it to be found in Thailand.
I have a good feeling that teaching in Thailand is the first step towards a life-long personal evolution. It will, surely, be a thorny yet beautiful opening of the heart, and I come willing. Here’s to the unfolding of passions, the discovery of success, and the pursuit to create a difference.
Georgia Gazette, from Arkansas, is a Greenheart Travel First Time Traveler Scholarship recipient. Learn more about Greenheart Travel’s scholarship opportunities to help you travel for a change!