Things that probably didn’t happen to you at the mall today:
You probably did not get a lugee hawked on your arm by a shop owner who 1. Felt no shame over this and 2. Did not aid you on removing it.
You probably didn’t feel something scratching your foot, assume it was a rat and look down to see it was a leg less man asking for money, or maybe your shoes…wait.
You probably didn’t see an unattended child wet his hammock.
Had one or all or all of these things happened to you at the mall today, it’s safe to assume you’d consider cutting the trip short. I was there 8 hours. It was outdoors, 100 degrees and it rained 3 times. Neither weather condition complimented the surrounding particularly well.
One may ask, why endure this? Do you just love shopping that much? (My response in the voice of Dwight from The Office) “False” I do not love shopping. But my Stephens Susie’s are hard at work getting me all set up for the Make Our Day holiday pop up shop so I had to keep up my end of the bargain and step up our elephant game.
So here is a sneak peak live from Bangkok of what shoppers have to look forward to. If you want in on this early and fo FREE apply via Instagram to be a campus rep.
So as of now, Teacha has left the building. If you had my phone number, forget it. If you are tired of me calling you anyway, rejoice.
Before I left I had the pleasure of rounding up my Fall 2015 Make Our Day staff for a little pre departure pow wow.
This was not a typical meeting as (like everything in my life) like to have everything going on at once. No powerpoints here. Just lots of ideas, lengthy side-notes, a hula hoop, booze, and oh wait, here. There is a method to the madness.
A glance at the table alone will tell you what a Type B can do lacking supervision and traditional workflow structure. The sprawling takeover of the table started innocently enough. Plates. We need plates right, didn’t you read item 1 on the agenda?
And since this meeting concerns Thailand, it would be downright disrespectful, Buddha no happy, to offer any fewer than 5 sauces.
So snacks. (Insert scene from The Jerk..”that’s all I need”)
Then headbands. (snacks and headbands, that’s all I need)
Then the Make Our Day Shop holiday goodies. (ok just these snacks, those headbands…and you get it)
Throw in an abundance of new and foreign (to Teacha) technology including a selfie stick and all bets are off. If you give a Moose a Muffin….you probably shouldn’t come back until she’s finished with it. I hope the person with (moderate…question mark) OCD who generously allowed us to use this room doesn’t see this.
For those of you who haven’t visited the staff page, Morgan and Brittany are actually joining me in Munchkinland starting January 2016, Laura is doing graphic design, and Megan knows stuff.
If you are digging this lucky elephant vibe and are in college, please apply to be a Campus Rep. It’s a pretty sweet gig. I send you free (and wary lucky) clothes made by my friends in Thailand. You wear said lucky clothes and #makeourday. Deal? Dee Mak!
The Make Our Day Shop is a pop up Instagram shop in which 100% of proceeds go towards opening the Make Our Day Tutoring Center in Phuket, Thailand.
Items will be available for online purchase starting Black Friday, but we need YOU, yes you, to start promoting on campus wan nee (today in Thai).
If you are interested in being a campus rep, follow our instagram makeourday_org and direct message a selfie with the following info in the comment:
School: Stephens College
Class: Senior….plus 6 years
Major: Fashion Marketing & Management
Clubs / Sorority: Mortar Board
Favorite late night food near campus: El Rancho…duh
Place you most want to travel to: Greek islands, Spain, Portugal
I’m in the process of re-doing my website and of course when I say “I” I mean Carlie is in the process of doing it. “I” maxed out my wordpress publishing for dummies skillset a long time ago.
Several people have suggested I throw up an FAQ section for people who are interested in teaching abroad. I’ll do that, but I’m warning you right now, if you’re looking for answers you’re going to like you need to skip right on over to the sunshine and rainbows world of Lonely Planet and Gap Year trips. They’re happy to take your money and you’ll have a great time, seriously you will.
However, if you are truly interested in living and serving God abroad here is the briefest and best advice I can offer you without directly answering any one question…helpful I know.
If you plan on staying past the honeymoon period of 5 or 6 weeks you will need to fall in love with everything that is unlovable about your new home. And while you are at it, try to give yourself and others the same respect. You’ll hate the smells and the noise the same way you can’t stand your friend (or mom) who asks too many questions during movies. You’ll scrunch your nose and throw a tilted glare in the direction of the offender but to change it wouldn’t please you as much as you may think in the moment.
You’ll feel alone and deflate a little when people tell you how lucky you are to travel. You’ll tell white lies to your family and friends as to not burst their bubbles or keep them up at night. You’ll experience some of the most beautiful moments of your life, but they won’t belong on postcards and it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to share them.
It will be the lingering, curious stare of a person who has never seen a person like you. A cautionary breeze before a dangerous storm, and the moment in the day when you give up. Your unfamiliar surroundings and being the minority will beat you and yet you will wake up feeling at peace the next morning.
You’ll experience the paradox of not understanding a persons language or beliefs yet not shaking the feeling that you can read their eyes and their heart for the struggles and joys that are universal. Some will give you a gracious smile for a kind gesture and some will resent you without reason. You’ll need to be able to love them equally or you need to leave.
It will become clearer to you which masters people serve home and away. The status quo, money, pride, fear, vanity, bureaucracy. You’ll have to decide for yourself what roles these things are going to play in your own life. It will mean letting go of things you never thought you would; people, jobs, homes, personal goals. In letting go you may also lose the need or simply the ability to explain yourself. It’s ok, if you are letting your heart lead it is to be expected that it will take your head awhile to catch up.
Trading one life for another is transformational in the way that anything of significance in life is. Love, loss, abuse, grief, marriage, children, divorce, moving, will take you to a place, location or otherwise, that you won’t ever come back from. Not because you don’t want to but because to try and do so would be dishonest and a discredit to the good that God is trying to do through you.
So, to those of you who are seriously considering a life change, not just a change of scenery, I probably won’t answer your questions but I will pray for you. The same prayer I wrote for Teacha Megan when, with a heavy heart, I left her and the Munchkins for the summer.
Lord if she faces the choice between being happy and being useful, let her choose to be useful.
Give her company when she is lonely, your word when she is afraid, and rest when she is tired.
Let her follow you blindly, but give her glimpses of your glorious plans should she get discouraged.
Most of all Lord, let her be a vessel, going where you lead to bring your love to those who need it most, home or away.
So I’m dating a 16 year old ladyboy named Bob. A May December romance
that no one saw coming, except maybe Bob. See Bob’s parents needed a little
Bob break, so they sent him to stay with his uncle in Phuket for the
summer. His uncle promptly enrolled him in the nearest English
school with the longest hours….sensing a theme?
Bob’s real name is Nong but after about the 100th time of him correcting
my pronunciation of the impossible “ng” sound, I said, Ok you
know what, you’re Bob now. Post name change, his peer approval rating skyrocketed, you’re welcome Bob.
Bob’s class is from 10-12, but he gets to school at 7am
regardless of rain, locked doors, or subtle hints about operating
hours and says “I am ready.” He then harasses anyone in sight until
they are forced to also be “ready”. After one day of that I taught him how to make coffee and told him no one is in any way “ready” until you do this. He did it every day.
About a week into summer break, Bob started making some demands of his own. Fed up with people’s refusal to match his enthusiasm for morning selfie sessions and not getting to do much vacationing on his vacation, he took matters into his own hands.
“Teacha, I want come to your house for dinner.’
I said, Bob do I look like Kathryn Pfieffer** to you. Well Kathryn Pfieffer is exactly who I looked like to Bob. With sociopath like intensity he stared at me and said, “Yes, Kathryn’s house for dinner.” Dammit Bob, my name is Kathryn and Mamma P** would love you so I guess this one is out of my hands.
** Kathryn Pfieffer / Mamma P as we call her, despite having just the two feisty red headed twink a dinks is never lacking for
dinner guests…and brunch…and well you just never know when they (Kayla or I) are going to leave.
“Ok Bob, I’ll pick you up at 6.”
This was met with jumping, an ear drum shattering scream, and of course…..a selfie.
“Thank you Teacha, thank you Katy Perry, I go get ready now.” He immediatly left class and ran out the door. It was 11:30.
I picked Bob up for our first date at the pier just before sunset and
already it had the makings of an alternate universe Bachelor where the
contestants are less attractive, the premise socially unacceptable,
and the suspense lacking as neither of us has the prospect of getting
another dinner date.
He was wearing a straw fedora, faybans, and
shorty shorts waving anxiously at me with one hand and taking my
picture with the other. “Teacha I am heeeeeeeeere.”
As I feared, the afternoon had given Bob way to much time to scheme
and dinner was no longer the only thing on the menu.
He presented me with a 1/2 Thai, 1/2 English extensive list titled, Travel in Phuket with Teacha Katie
-Go to buy the sunglasses the same at Naka Market
-Ride motorcycle in mountains with boyfriend
-Eat romantic dinner seafood
-Go to every beach every day
-Yoga at rock
-Yoga at beach
-Yoga at park
-Travel to airport
-Take a bus
-Talk with tourists
-Be brave be beautiful
We did all these things and more minus the production quality and
wardrobe changes of a reality TV show and plus some minor compromises.
For example, number 2: Ride motorcycle in mountains with boyfriend in reality turned out to be Bob and I on a 250cc scooter along the beach road but he held on to my waist and screamed everytime we rounded a corner just the same. During our candlelit seafood dinner on the beach, he giggled repeating, “it’s so romantic” over and over. We did “Yoga” in the loosest sense of the word but we’ve got no less than 200 pictures of it. We spent hours making playlists for roadtrips and at the waterpark he took a GoPro video of us on every waterslide, enclosed slides included.
He cried when summer was over and called me 5 times on the way home,
each time sounding completely shocked to be speaking with me. The
Munchkins facetimed him from the orphanage and he cried again. After
being home and seeing his old friends he called in real crisis mode.
“Teacha my friend tell to me Nong is not same from Nong in the past.
Have thinner, and tanner and more polite. Some friend say, ok yes you
are different now is good but some friend not like says not ok…..want to have
Nong the same from the past. Everyone liking name Bob though, want to keep”
I said well Nong, you’re not Nong anymore, you’re Bob and you’re a man now…kind of. No more Old Nong, only New Bob.
After I talked him off the ledge, I broke up with him but it’s nothing New Bob can’t handle. He told me he wants to “focus on his studies” anyway.
In the hopes of keeping the shop alive for the rest of their summer break, the Minions were all to happy to send me off to BKK on a buying trip. But as we finished lunch, one Minion started to change her tune a little.
Bible: Teacha I think you cannot go Bangkok. Teacha Katie: Why Bible?
I think going alone you cannot. How do you go to the airport and hotel. I’ll drive my motorbike to the airport and walk to my hotel.
But very far and very much raining Yep, its not ideal
And then when you get to Bangkok, how going to Chinatown? Make taxi? Nope, I’ll take the bus.
Local Bus?! Oh no I think you cannot only Thai people and wary hot, smell bad. Well I would have to agree with you that it smells like a sun baked sushi buffet and I’m somewhat unwelcome, but its sitting right in our price range at .50 cents.
(Silent laughing, hand over mouth shaking head) I cannot imagine you ride local bus in Taylor Swift outfit to The Chinatown. Will you take a selfie? Only of someone else does it first.
Yesterday I am playing on the Twitter and I see One Direction make fighting. I am amazed when this happen……but now today I think I am more amazed about go to Bangkok.
There you have it folks, more amazing than One Direction. I’ll add that to my resume should I ever need one again.
Thanks to all of your support, the trip doubled our sales for the shop. The Minions are very anxious to see what you liked and get to invoicing but it will have to wait because tomorrow is Munchkin time and we need to prep, pray and (hopefully) sleep.
While I was at the airport bookstore I read JK Rowling’s book Very Good Lives (It’s her commencement speech from Harvard graduation 2008 can be read in about 15 minutes). Her themes were the importance of failure and imagination, which coincidently (or not) were also the takeaway points for our wacky half baked experiment of pursuing the shop.
She said that while failure is by far one of the most important of all human experiences, it’s also often and easily avoided through apathy, which is a failure in itself. And that imagination gives us the ability to empathize, which drives us to enact change on behalf of those who for whatever reason, are struggling to do so themselves.
She described literal nightmares about her own helplessness in combating injustices she witnessed through working with Amnesty International. And in a sentiment I share, says she would envy people who close themselves off from failure and imagination except that she doesn’t believe those people have any fewer nightmares than she does. Leaving your world small and self centric is a monster of a completely different kind.
So while I am not under any delusion that you Make Our Day Shop shoppers couldn’t have found similar clothes at the mall this week, I am grateful that you actively chose to exercise your uniquely human ability to empathize with someone you have never met (and likely never will) and imagine a better life for them. Profit or not, there is no failure in that.
You Made Our Day in more ways than one. Khap Khun Kaaaaa Shoppers.