The Land of Smile

The Land of Smile

By Patricia

“Sawadika!” an airplane stewardess woke me up. “Thank you.” I smiled back at her. Sunset sloshed into the small windows of the airplane. I realized that I was back in Taiwan. Picked up my baggage, and all the way through the airplane. I correctly found my dad’s car in thousands of cars. “Dad!” I rushed over to him. I couldn’t wait to tell him all the things that I had experienced!

“Sawadika!” even though the airplane stewardess gave me a polite and kind smile, my hands were still trembling and my face was still white because of the nervous and afraid. It was my first time being abroad by myself. I took an enormous step out of my comfort zone into a place where I could totally not speak my mother tongue.

I finally found a group of people that wore the same uniform T-shirt that I wore, whom the next five days I spent with. They were all English speakers. None of them could speak Chinese. We, as a group, took another flight to Ching Mai and took a bus drive to the settlement.

We got to know each other and each one of us a Thai buddy on the first morning of the schedule. We were guided around to get familiar with the place. We went to Mai Lai Elementary School on the second day to build the basement and mix the cement with the local villagers. That was two days of hard work with nothing but sweat and chatting in our beautiful memories.

On the night we got back from Mai Lai Elementary School, we were grouped to teach different students in three schools. We planned our teaching by ourselves and we taught students on the next day. “Sawadika!” Thai students made a praying position and greeted us. “Take a seat, please.” We smiled confidently and started our class. We played educational games with them and we all had two days full of laughers.

On the last night we had a talent show to say goodbye to the buddies we spent four days together. “Sawadika!” my Thai buddy came sit beside me. My eyes strangely felt hot and sore, but I didn’t let tears came out. ‘I will miss all these friends who changed me for good!’ I told myself and enjoyed my last night being with them.

This story was republished from Patricia’s blog with her permission.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Thailand, or view more Alumni Stories here