HuffPost Interviews Make Our Day

I was interviewed by HuffPost this week about the difference small donations can make to organizations like Make Our Day.  I found it very appropriate that they chose this story to use in their article.

For this particular kiddo, $10, time, and attention has made a huge difference.  The munchkins have their next big day out on November 28th.  If you’d like to donate to this playdate or make a small one time or recurring monthly donation it would really Make Our Day!

Consider Dillman’s anecdote from the tutoring center she runs in Thailand: “One of my third-grade students used to cry inconsolably through his morning classes … He wouldn’t tell any students or teachers what was wrong. Things started to make sense when I checked his English workbook and saw that he’d written ‘no’ next to the question ‘What did you have for breakfast?’… Now I bring him fresh fruit and granola for breakfast every school day and make sure he has food or money for the weekend. Ten dollars a week is what I spend for his breakfast, and … I am not exaggerating when I tell you that absolutely everything about his school performance started to improve after we established this morning routine.”read full article here

Why the Hell Not

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Let’s start with full disclosure on how this article came to life. I didn’t know if was International Women’s Day yesterday until I saw the hash tag on Instagram and even then my only thought was, oh great, we get a day on social media…….so does fro-yo (a sensitive subject with me at the moment). As is the basic design of Instagram, I consumed it and forgot it seconds later. Hash tag something about being bold.

Then I went on a 5 hour coffee and beer tasting tour in New Zealand because as a woman not under the oppression of a government, religion, or institution, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted yesterday. At the last stop on the tour, the bartender told me there was a sign around the corner with my name on it. “I’m not in Danger, I am the Danger.” No doubt a gimmick she pulls on all the customers, but it was still great for so many reasons, and it pulled me back into thinking about International Women’s Day.

Not being enough as a woman hasn’t played a big role in my life because men and women alike have always told me that I’m “too much”. A few other words I hear a lot are “crazy, bold, on another level, assertive, aggressive, confrontational……” you see how these words are devolving. It’s because #bebold isn’t the finish line, it’s the starting point. People can turn #bebold around on you and do.

The positives of what the world has been telling you to be and do can easily get twisted into negatives once you start to use them. And you know what? That’s unfortunate not to mention confusing, but to quote Elizabeth Gilbert (whose magic lessons podcast I have on repeat at the moment), “when you compare THAT to what it would feel like to be whispering in a corner….it’s on a whole different see saw”.

Some of you may be hesitant to stand up for women because you feel like the type of woman represented is too narrow or the issues are not specific enough and you don’t want to get lumped into something you’re not sure you understand. I get that.

But if that’s you, let’s take a step back for perspective. First, being able to voice the fact that you don’t agree or being able to ask a question makes you more lucky than it does misrepresented (myself included). Second, if you do have a voice, don’t use it to discredit another woman’s voice who is just at the starting line because I promise you, the women who need this day on social media are the ones who think that the hash tag #bebold does not now and never will apply to them.

Women’s empowerment? That’s for western women, that’s for crazy women, that’s for angry women, no one will ever marry those women. YES! And NOOOO! This isn’t a movement to tell you to #bebold like me. I know I’m crazy. It’s meant to give you permission to #bebold like YOU whatever that may look like in your life today.

As I’m writing this I keep thinking back to a beautiful example of what this looks like in real life. A couple years ago some high school girls in Thailand were helping me run an Instagram shop fundraiser for my non-profit Make Our Day. We ran out of clothes and they said I’d have to go to Bangkok to find what I needed. To them, this instantly meant the project was over but I said, Bangkok? Let’s go! They laughed hysterically at how crazy my idea was and said not only that they couldn’t, but I couldn’t. I said, I understand why you can’t go…….but I can. (full story here)

Everything about this trip blew their minds; from the fact that I went alone, down to the bus I took and the clothes I wore. They watched it happen through selfie updates and got to pick clothes from the pictures I sent them. By the time trip was over, it was still completely crazy to them, but it was done. It was no longer up for debate whether it was or wasn’t possible, because I had just done it for all of us.

So as I sat at the bar yesterday under that sign, I felt a tug of responsibility from the knowledge that there were girls and women who wanted to post something yesterday but didn’t. For them, that would have been too bold.

Maybe you’re not afraid to post but you didn’t because you are just tired of arguing about what women’s empowerment means, or you’re tired of arguing about why, as a woman of privilege, you should even be allowed to argue, or you think you can’t write, or that no one is listening, or because of all the #bebold things you were willing to do yesterday, putting yourself out there for internet backlash wasn’t one of them.

If that’s you, I understand it. All of it. And still, none of it matters if using your voice will get even one teenage girl to the starting line. So Happy Belated International Women’s Day. #bebold and go have some Fro-Yo…….just don’t invite me until you’ve read my rules.

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Guest Post on Forbes

This old dog learned some new tricks this year.  Thanks to Goodlinks and Influence&CO, Teacha got a crash course in guestposting and getting your articles published online.

Seeing this one turn up on Forbes was a pretty good Christmas gift.

Why Budgeting a Little For Charity Really Pays by Kathryn Dillman

We’ve got big plans for 2017, and a small donation can go a long way. If you are able to make a one time Christmas donation or commit to a monthly donation, there are 3 ways to do so.

1. PayPal- if you have a PayPal account, select “send funds” and put the recipient as: info@makeourday.org

2. Use the DONATE button to donate securely through donorbox.
Donate
3. Mail a check payable to: Make a Munchkins Day to the address: 516 S. Carnation Dr. Aurora, MO 65605

Make Our Day is a 501(c)3 corp. Donations are tax deductible

Also 2016 newsletters are going out via the good old fashioned snail mail after Christmas, so if your address has changed since last year or you want added to the mailing list, send me a message or email or enter your address here.

If you are already on my Christmas card list; I know you and you will physically have to move to unsubscribe………and even then I’m still likely to find you so Chok Dee (good luck).

Merry Christmas and Love From Munchkinland,

Teacha Katie

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Ream, Cambodia December 21, 2016

 

Thinkers, Dreamers, Doers

My latest guest post to Elephant Journal. An article for my thinkers (Jang) dreamers (Nong) and doers (Milk) in Munchkinland and to a few feisty Thai women who are all 3.  Give a read, give it a share, and if you don’t want to read it……….just send us a donation for the triplet’s birthday and we’ll call it even.

The Gift No One Else Can Give

by Kathryn Dillman

“We more often find ourselves giving without knowing the impact. We have to realize that the results we do see are gifts, not guarantees. It’s our nature to evaluate our investments, but people are not an absolute unit of measure. When we invest in people, we need to believe in the value of impact we may never see.” Full Article on Elephant Journal

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Preaw, Friday Class

Oh, you’re a Teacher!

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Some very nice people have made a very nice offer to help me publish some articles on “the net” about Make Our Day.  Two of which can be found on BlogHer and Elephant Journal.

The topics for the articles mainly center on teaching abroad and it’s got me thinking about a smalltalk hurdle I’m constantly running into.  Aside from “Why Thailand” the most frequently asked question I get is “What do you teach?”

I normally respond with “love”.  People have a real aversion to this, which I will admit probably has as much to do with my demeanor as with the response, but let’s address the response for starters.

If you are an American living abroad and someone asks you this question, there are only two acceptable answers.  You are either an English Teacher or you are a Missionary. So the two “correct” answers are english or the bible.

I, essentially teach neither of these things.  And because I am painfully stubborn (but more importantly because I believe in the value of what I do teach) I will not say that I do because it’s limiting and unnecessary.  These two subjects are the same as love to a child in my program.

People want to be assured that children are understanding words when I want to ensure that they are understanding loving actions.  Actions that they can easily and immediately act on without translation of language and without any forced or imagined conversion to Christianity as a prerequisite.

I feel that we as westerners want to make this more complicated than it is for one reason…..because most of us are pretty damn lucky.  No one has to “teach” us love because we’ve been shown it our whole lives. (Thanks Mark and Deb:-))

You know what’s weird though (or not weird at all)….if the kids ask what we are doing today and I say “love, love, love”.  They say “YAYYYYY” and run upstairs to bring me this obnoxiously large stuffed heart.

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Just last Monday Pair said, “Teacha, remember smell chocolate?” and we both started laughing.  She is right and I completely forgot.  This stuffed heart we got for the Valentines Day photo booth had a “special extra special great bonus” where it smelled like chocolate.

It smelled awful and we were laughing and throwing it each-other, then of course taking it way to far and tackling the boys to the ground to make them smell it.  The smell faded and we still use it daily but the bigger picture is not lost on me.

The bigger picture is that Pair and I have memories together and they are important ones.

I remember the first day I met Pair in her 4th grade classroom.  I remember she braided my hair so tight I felt a pulsing in my temples for three days.  I remember how proud she was of that braid because it looked exactly like Elsa.

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I remember the day it was OFFICIAL that I was unwelcome at her school because it was her 11th birthday and I brought noisemakers.

I remember when her best friend Ar-Muay moved away and how we both cried because no one would tell us where she went.

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I remember her first crush and how she was so heartbroken over him on her 12th birthday that she didn’t said she didn’t even want the pizza she’d been begging me for for months.  And I remember the biggest hug and the biggest smile when her crush and I showed up with Pizza after school anyway.

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Sure, the majority of our time together has been spent in the classroom learning English but she doesn’t come for vocabulary and it’s not what comes first.  We can’t learn until after love and hugs and some days require more love than others.  Those are the days we both remember.  Those are the days we laugh about.  Those are the days she points to over and over again in the photo album.

So what do I teach?  I’m sticking with my answer.  Does that mean awkward silences in my future.  Sure….but not from the kiddos.

Pair and Laila are in 6th grade now.  We’re hoping that they’ll follow in Bung and Jang’s footsteps and go to school in town next year.  If you’d like to sponsor their tutoring or make a donation for Laila’s birthday next week (she wants 29 donuts for her class) use the donorbox link here or email me at: info@makeourday.org

Love, love, love from Munchkinland,

Teacha Katie

 

 

Can I call you Ruffio?

And just like that, munchkins they weren’t.

These are my boyfriends Gop and Nex fighting over me at school. If it were December of 2014, Gop would be writing me love notes and Nex would sneak up to kiss me on the cheek then run away giggling. This year they’re both still trying to get a date for the weekend but the sweet, shy smiles have gone. Gop now wants to practice boxing and Nex wants me to watch him sail.

Teacha – Well boys, it’s almost 2016 and you are munchkins no more. You’re lost boys now. Can I call one of you Ruffio?
Gop – Teacha you are crazy and I do not understand you but Nex swim no good and he gay, have boyfriend!
Nex – Ayyyyy Teacha Mai Chai! Gop cheat at boxing (makes eye gouging motion) and Nex is most handsome, not gay.

More insults and a couple lies ensue before they turn back to me, hands on hips and ask again,
“So Teacha…Saturday.”

Leaving the school, I laughed and thought about Tee. I tutored Tee everyday last December to prepare him to get into a private high school in New Zealand. The tutoring sessions and the international school were both low on his list of priorities at the time and he put on plenty of “what’s the point” teenage melodramas.

I told him the point was I needed him to do better and if he wasn’t going to do it for himself, he was just going to have to do it for me. This really set him off.

What? Why I gonna do something so hard for you. I not even want to do for myself and you have messy hair! I said Tee, you love my messy hair so much it just might change the course of your whole life. Do better.

Back to 2015. In a poetic circle, Tee came to see me after finishing his first year abroad.

Tee – Hey, Girl with no friends. I not see you one year so why you look the same?

Teacha – Because I’m an adult Tee. I don’t have to change my look everytime a pop star has an identity crisis, that’s your department.
Tee – You are a mess. Do better man.
Teacha – Alright angsty, I hope you didn’t come to study because I don’t teach international students

Tee – ”No, not study. I come to tell you I gonna go to college USA for you.”

Teacha – Because you love my messy hair

Tee – Because I love your messy hair.

Again creeping on my own instagram, exactly 52 weeks ago. He was not exaggerating about the negative effects of heat, wind, rain, and bike helmets have on my hair.
Again creeping on my own instagram, exactly 52 weeks ago. He was not exaggerating about the negative effects of heat, wind, rain, and bike helmets have on my hair.

I look at these pictures of the boys and think of how much they have changed yet stayed the same and I can’t stop smiling. Though I feel a slight pang for their munchkin days, possibly the best thing about love is that it is never complacent. It changes always because it changes you for the better. And if there is one thing we can always be, it is better.

Please consider setting up a recurring monthly donation or purchasing a sponsorship to support hiring more teachers and adding a second classroom location in 2016.

Love from Munchkinland, Teacha Katie.

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Fri-Yay, not today

When the Director handed me the roster for tutoring in October, I did not like the looks of Friday.  7th grade boys any day is a tall order but Friday afternoon is really pushing it.
They proved me wrong and today marked the 8th week of the boys not only having perfect attendance but being the most creative and enjoyable class out of the 4.
As they put their attendence stickers on the board they realized there were no more columns, and pointed to where the 25th would be.
 “next week, why not have?”
 I said well do you know what holiday is on the 25th?
 “Yes, Kis ta ma sah”
That’s right, so we will probably have a party at school and have cake and games are you excited?

I knew they wouldn’t be.  They love that they get their own time. They love that their class has the most stickers on the board and the sign we made for the door that says “please do not interrupt”

I love that they casually hang out outside the room as if they just happened to be upstairs and that unbeknownst to me they asked to switch to the 2nd dinner shift so they could stay longer in class.
They asked about the week after and we got out the board again so I could explain to them that their class was over, we had done 8 weeks.  They just looked down kind of sad and pulled my wrist to sit next to them on the stairs for a moment of silence.  They are too big to hug me so instead they said, “Teacha, we are going to hide Nex’s dinner plates….you can come if you want.”
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I know in order to meet the long term goals of the program, we need to give every munchkin at the orphanage a chance to study but I miss the boys already.  I’m not worried about a lapse in English exposure as much as the absence of a fellowship they had grown to value over the past couple months.
If you are reading this, chances are you grew up in the church and were part of youth group, Younglife, CRU etc.  Maybe it’s where you met your first love or your best friend. Maybe the group fellowship afforded you the opportunity to realize that someone wasn’t who you thought they were at school or that a person you thought you had nothing in common with was struggling with the same problem as you.
Maybe it’s been a long time since you left that group but you still feel like reaching out to your pastor or leader or remember someone and think, “I wish I would have gotten to know them better.” or “I wonder what they’re up to now”
In March of 2014 I had a summer camp of private students ages 13-17 none of whom knew each other going into it.  As I was the only teacher, the tutoring center that registered them let me do it my way which means we did lessons and activities that my Dad, The Griffins, The Swifts, The McKinneys and many more youth leaders used to do for me.
At the end of the one month camp the students said to me that they had not had friends like this before (different schools, different age etc.) and asked if I thought they could always be friends.  I said you will not see each other often, but if you try to meet on school breaks then, yes, I think you will always be friends.
It’s been almost 2 full years and they’ve been happy to keep me updated and drop in from time to time to reminisce.  The camp lovebirds are still together (long distance because of college of course), as a group they have celebrated 2 Songkran’s (Thai New Years) together, and they always send me selfies anytime someone from the group sees one another.
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As it stands, the munchkins are not Christians and do not have the luxury of quality time with parents or outside friends. I do not know when the time will come that we will be able to have a 2 way discussion about the gospel but I do know that through fellowship God is laying a foundation of understanding about what love is for when that time comes.
If fellowship is something that’s made a difference in your life please consider making a donation this Christmas or setting up a recurring monthly donation to ensure that Make Our Day is able to make consistent progress towards creating a special time of fellowship each week for all the munchkins.  I know they will make a new friend and they may even meet their Savior.
Current programming needs include 2 more teachers who can commit to 8 weeks of classes at a time and an additional classroom location within walking distance of school and the orphanage.
Love from Munchkinland,
Teacha Katie
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