On Friday we spent the majority of the day in class. We had both of our classes back to back with lunch in between. The first class was History of the Mekong region. I read quite the amount of background information on the region, so I expected class to be the same. The professor is Thai and spoke of her story and things she has been challenged by in her past and in the present. Among Thai culture it is not welcomed for a woman to be an ordained pastor. For the professor, that is all she wanted to do. She would sneak away to church, and eventually was kicked out of her home for being a Christian. How powerful christianity is when someone gives up the life they have known to follow Christ. Her story weaved intricacy of the rooted and complicated issues around the poverty in the region. For Thailand, poverty has created the future. Displaced people have cultivated the land and moved across political borders, while the tribes and villages continue their way of life. Moving due to the fear of powerful figures they cannot control. I was focusing so hard on what the professor had to say that I felt I was in the moment with her. As she described her experience in the best way she could in English, I could feel and see the emotions on her face. The pain of guilt of not being able to control people’s poor decisions or circumstance to the joy of hope in what can change the country and the peoples’ mindset for the better. It is not an easy road for women in the region. They have little rights and are culturally expected to take care of the family. Something that the western world is not as familiar with.
The second class was Exclusion and Exploitation. The discussion focused on people groups and how each people group moved across borders. A large amount of the migration across political borders has only occurred in the last one hundred years, which further perpetuates the issue of citizenship and discrimination.
Upon returning to Doi Saket we decided to go for a bike ride. I rode a bike with only one gear, which made for fast pedaling with little gain in mileage. I tried to soak in all I was seeing. The roads are paved with a line in between and we have to ride on the left side of the road. I looked out at endless rice fields and farmland with people transplanting the rice. I smiled at unfamiliar faces who seem amused the Farang (foreigners) were bike riding around. I recognized the fact I was amongst suburban Thailand. There is a center of town and all along the road there are nice houses with gates mixed in with smaller houses that look homemade. To the western world it may seem poor and impoverished. Most live without much and feed their family with the food they grow. Almost completely sustainable. The culture is rich and the people are friendly. The homes are nice, the farmland is beautiful, the atmosphere is friendly, and the people are incredibly caring. It is a neighborhood, a community, a family. How beautiful a culture where each person is interconnected and knows that without one another, the community cannot thrive. Within Suburban Thailand there are several Buddhist temples. The temples are large and have the appearance of being there for quite some time. Each temple is beautiful, but is a sharp contrast to the surrounding countryside. Suburban Thailand was also quite fun with my adventure mates. However, trying to take pictures while riding a wobbly bike perhaps is not the smartest decision.