Inspiration Move Me Brightly

Inspiration Move Me Brightly

Do you ever get moments where you feel like a reset button has been pushed?  Where you wake up and feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and your worries have faded away?  Where your thoughts start to follow your vision (and dance in the sun)?  I can see the path ahead of me, and it all makes sense (I must confess!)  Okay, enough of the musical references..

The last week has been full of great changes, and I am determined to keep this positive ball rollin’.  When I reflect on all that has happened this last week, it seems pretty wild to think it has only been one week.  No complaints though because it has just been one good thing after another! 

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.  – The Alchemist

I officially finished my first teaching job in Thailand!  Yay!  As with every job, there are sure to be some times where you aren’t absolutely in love with your job 100% of the time, but I do know that I 100% love my passion for teaching, with no exception to that being in Thailand.  So looking back, I am overall so pleased about the start of this journey of teaching overseas.  I often get asked the question how it is teaching English out here.   I feel like it’s sort of a difficult question to answer.  If I asked you how your job is, trying to narrow down what you do every day, day after day, to just a short response isn’t exactly an easy task, especially when your day-to-day tasks are never the same.  So if I had to put my experiences, my lessons, my favorite parts, and my struggles into something short and sweet, I guess this is it.


In general, teaching requires a lot of patience.  Teaching in Thailand, however, requires even more.  Oh, we didn’t tell you that you didn’t need to prepare any lessons today because the students are going on field trips?  Oh, we forgot to mention you are going to have to teach a class next period?  You had an exam scheduled for tomorrow? .. Well we thought you just knew there was no school tomorrow.  If teaching in Thai schools has taught me anything, it is the art of patience.  While I obviously don’t have it mastered, I can definitely say my patience level is at an all time high.  With the language barrier, there is sure to be some miscommunication along the way.  Things are also sure change at any moment, and you have to just go with the flow.  Mai pen rai.

Holidays and School Activities 

Celebrating holidays and having school-wide activities here are really like nothing I have ever seen before.  (Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade: Is it really necessary to do all that just for Thanksgiving?  No, but it’s still amazing to watch.  Okay, obviously it’s a much smaller scale of all that, but it’s still pretty extravagant.)  The amount of effort and hard work these students put into their ideas and projects to contribute to the outcomes of these things is absolutely amazing.  I could never have dreamed of doing some of these things when I was their age.  Some of my personal favorites this past year included Christmas (yes, in a Buddhist country), Father’s Day (the King’s birthday), Academic Day (lots of food!), and Sport’s Day (hardly any sports).  These celebrations took up the entire school day, and they were pretty awesome to be a part of.  From the costumes to the decorations to the performances and everything in between, Thailand definitely knows how to put on a show.

Kids Who Make Your Day Instantly Brighter

There is always someone that when you see them they instantly make your day SO much better (at least, I would hope everyone has at least one person who helps them see brighter days simply by their existence).  While I maybe shouldn’t say this as a teacher, there is definitely at least one student in each of my classes who just makes it so worthwhile.  I wouldn’t even necessarily call them a favorite student.  When no one may seem to understand a new concept, or you are ready to just throw in the towel for the day, all it takes is looking at that one student: to see their eagerness in learning something new, their efforts in trying something hard, that little smile of theirs that when you look at them, it makes you smile; they make it all instantly better and each day worth it.  I appreciate those students so much who just their presence can make my days brighter.


I had a student who had brilliant English.  She would speak to me about different crystals her father and sister collected.  One day, I brought in all the crystals I have with me in Thailand, and she named off each of them.  Her face lit up as she shared with me what she knew about each one and her personal connections she had to them.  I had another student who could barely speak any English.  One day after class, I knew something was off with her.  As soon as I asked her if she was okay, she instantly broke down crying.  She rambled off in Thai what the problem was, and while I didn’t get much out of what she was saying, I knew it was a problem with another girl.  (Welcome to teaching 13 year old girls.)  Simply giving her a hug and listening to what she had to say was all it took for her mood to turn around, and for her to strive to do well in my class from there forward.  She began sitting in the front row every class, and I smiled each time she raised her hand to answer every question I asked.  By the end of this year, she was able to have a conversation with me in English and managed to pass all of her English finals.  In another class, I had a girl who speaks Thai and English pretty fluently.  During our Christmas activities, her mother came to school.  Her English wasn’t the greatest, but she managed to come up to talk to me.  I told her how proud she should be for raising such a great daughter.  It was truly a pleasure to have her daughter in my class because she was such a hard-worker and always did her personal best.  Her mother began crying, and she thanked me for all of my work with her.  These students probably do not even realize how much of a light they shone in my life, and how they made my days so much brighter.  I am sad I won’t be seeing these students in the halls next year, but I am glad that I was fortunate enough to teach them.  I am sure they aren’t even aware of how much I learned from them, but I am grateful for the lessons they taught me.


Since Friday was my last day teaching, Evy and I went out for a little end of the year celebration.  We went to this local bar called Jam for a few drinks and some live music.  I met some awesome people from all over world and listened to some local bands play some pretty good jams.  What more could I want on a Friday night?

I woke up Saturday in an amazing hotel with a beautiful view overlooking Bangkok, courtesy of Evy’s dad and step mom, and there was an even more spectacular display of food for breakfast.  Holy cow!  Seriously, probably ate enough to feed one.  I even had a bagel and real bacon.  I felt like I had died and was in some magical place with all the food I could possibly dream of ever even wanting just sitting in front of me.  It was unreal.  We spent the rest of the day at Grand Palace, and finished the night off with an amazing dinner.  Later that night I set off on a plane for a last minute trip to Malaysia.


Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand with Evy

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, early bird Sunday morning.  I then made my way to Chinatown where I found a hostel and spent the rest of my Sunday exploring that little area of town.  I managed to even find a cool Reggae bar where I played pool with some guys I met from Sierra Leone.

Monday I went to the Thai Embassy to get all my visa stuff situated (the whole reason for my last minute trip to Malaysia.)  Afterwards, I went off to adventure and explore what else KL had to offer.  I went to Merdaka Square and Katsuri Walk, both some neat shopping places.  I then saw Masjid Jamek Mosque, and I found a little gem of an Indian food place tucked away nearby.  I thought Thai food was good, but man, the food I got in Malaysia is right up there.  Later that night, I spent my time sippin’ on a good bottle of wine (finally!) on the roof in the heart of Chinatown and relaxing in a hammock under the Malaysian skies.  


Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

On Tuesday I ventured off to Batu Caves with an awesome guy I met.  We climbed to the top, and I was able to soak up the KL skyline from afar and chill with the monkeys.  To my surprise, the caves weren’t a touristy area, which was awesome to enjoy the beauty surrounding me without a bunch of people close by.  Later that night, I went on a nice stroll to check out the Petronas Twin Towers.  Wednesday morning I hopped back on a flight home to Bangkok, feeling rejuvenated after a nice few days away.  


Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Malaysia was a really neat place.  The people were super friendly and so willing to help me with whatever I needed.  I had trouble finding the train one day, and a guy who was working, left his workplace to walk me there.  The food there was incredible, and I have a new obsession with Indian food.  I met some interesting people, including a group of guys who are cycling around the world.  While I was staying at my hostel, I found the book The Alchemist.  (If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you get on it.)  Between that book and my experiences in Malaysia, I feel as though a new light has been shed into my life.  I am always grateful when new people and places allow you to expand your mind in new ways.

Me with a sweet lady from Iran at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

The secret is here in the present.  If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it.  And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.  Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings. – The Alchemist

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