October 19, 2018, I am 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean on Singapore Airlines flight 708 to Tokyo, Japan. There was a sense of urgency to get off the 12 hour flight and see what Asia had in store for me, but there was also a sense of caution. Me, myself and I, alone in a city of 35 million people, no one to lean on for help with directions and no one to go to restaurants with. I just had myself, 6,700 miles away from home and I am loving every second of it.
I am not new to the travel game, I have worked 3 summers in Alaska, worked on an island off the coast of Southern California and even worked in Yosemite national park. I have also studied abroad in Italy and did a volunteer trip to Central America. But this trip was different, the purpose of this trip was simple; teach English in Thailand for four months and travel to 10 countries and 2 continents in the process.
October 30, 2018, I will never forget the 2.5 hour drive north of Bangkok to my school. I had never seen rice paddies until that moment. A cloud of mystery and fear was over me, I had no idea what to expect. My first day of school, the kids couldn’t stop looking at me and touching me, they were fascinated by my presence. Every time I get lunch and I’m carrying the dishes back to my office, the kids get on their tippy toes and try to get a full look as to what I will be consuming for lunch; they find me to be so interesting and I love it.
I am now writing this on January 30th, 2019, I have been teaching for 3 months, with one more month left on my contract. This last month will be a bitter sweet one; I am one step closer to fulfilling my contract and seeing the destinations that were once just a figment of my imagination but at the same time, saying goodbye to all these kids will not be easy. I easily give over 1,000 fist bumps, high fives, handshakes, as well as partake in countless rock, paper, scissors matches a day. Teaching alone in a foreign land gives you such a sense of accomplishment.
There were times along this journey I would ask myself questions like; what am I even doing here? Or how am I going to last for another 3 months? And every time one of these questions arose, I always looked at the glass half full, instead of half empty. I knew I was over here to make a difference in kids lives and I was over here to ultimately enrich my soul. Every time a young Thai kid, waves to me and says hello, I have to stop and say to myself, wow I am so lucky to be having this amazing interaction and how genuine this experience is. This is the type of experience 20 years down the line, when I look back on my life, when I look back at the pictures I’ve taken, I can honestly say “I actually did that, what a beautiful experience that was.”