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September 19, 2011

My Story: Thai trip opens up a whole new world

From: My Story: Thai trip opens up a whole new world - Jacksonville Journal Courier - Sept 19, 2011

One week after graduating from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and getting my degree in psychology I was on a 22-hour flight across the world.

On the way to Bangkok, Thailand, there was time to think: What were the people like? The landscape? Food? Language? Culture? Religion? I had no idea, but all I knew was that it will be the place I will be staying for the next 10 weeks teaching fourth through sixth grade students math and English for my international internship at Thepparat School for the Deaf.

As I arrived, the first thing I thought was that the world is still running and alive as everybody in America is still sleeping, as if it's an entire different world here in Thailand.

It is 12 hours ahead in time zone.

The first thing I learned was to bow to nearly everyone. The streets were filled with scooters as they are cheaper to buy. The people there are struggling with money. They work so hard all day long for very little money. You can easily buy food with a dollar or a few.

The language was so unfamiliar. It was more like looking at a pretty symbol rather than something to communicate with, although I learned how to sign in their language to communicate.

The people there are so modest and humble. On the hottest humid day, you will often find people still wearing long pants.

Here in America, when you have some color on your skin, it's considered beautiful, but in Thailand, it is the opposite. They hide away from the sun, wearing long blouses, carrying an umbrella, staying in shadow and using white powder to appear whiter.

The religion in Thailand plays a huge part in culture. They practice Buddhist and a religion I find to be very beautiful. The monks just a few hours away from Bangkok have been taking care of tigers, all starting with an injured tiger. So they are tame, and I couldn’t lose the chance to pet the tigers. They really are just like cats, but bigger.

Those 10 weeks of experiences is something I cannot sum up because there are just too many things to share.

Monica Frederick is a Jacksonville resident and Illinois School for the Deaf alumnus.

@ Freedom Communications