The Checklist From Thailand - My Family Travels

Clothes? Check. Money? Check. Cell phone? Check. Wait! No cell phone. This is no ordinary trip, I remembered. I was going to Thailand, a country far away from the United States. As far as crossing the Pacific Ocean and passing Japan straight into Chiang Mai, Thailand. Why would I even head out there in the first place? I was chosen to go see the “world” and help teach traditional dancing. I was still a student and unwilling. But, by the time the trip was ending, I was teaching and enjoying the time I have left with my little dancers.

            Departing from San Francisco International Airport, we stopped at Taipei, China.  This is where my journey began. I saw this old Hmong couple with a cardboard sign saying that they need a Hmong translator. They were going back to Laos after visiting the United States. Somehow they missed a couple of their planes. I can feel how frightened and worried they were. So my teacher and I decided to help them. I was so disappointed that there was not one educated Hmong person to help them reach their homeland. Yet, I was glad to have met them because this one event changed the way how I planned my future.

            Once we got to Chiang Mai, Thailand, we rented a car and went straight to Chiang Rai, our destination. Driving up the mountains was like riding a roller coaster, twisting and turning but no loops. When we reached the top of the mountain, I was so dizzy that I did not realize the beauty around me. It’s not the beauty of human doings, but the beauty of nature. The green fields of crops, the mountains, the fog, the smell of fresh air were unlike in the city. It holds a mysterious atmosphere yet a calming appearance, like a dream.

            Starting from that day was my job. Throughout the weeks that I stayed there, I have taught those girls and have learned from them. I saw their compassion and dedication to learn. I saw the hardships they have to go through. I went with them once to their farming sites and trust me, it was a long walk. Not only did it take four hours but they have to carry heavy tools and supplies. Then they have to stay many nights at their farm sites to watch over the plants. I realize how much of an easy life I have in the United States. There was education here whereas none there. The day before we left, we had a little performance to tell the village how much they have learned. They did a wonderful job considering that it was their first time dancing. Then, the night that my teacher, my aunt, my uncle, and I were to leave, all the girls came to stay with us. Under the night sky that watched over them and on the earth that provided them food, was where we slept. The next morning, they all cried.

            I, myself was crying, but a stronger feeling came upon me. The feeling of wanting a better future for those girls made me realize what I need to do. I need to improve myself and gather as much knowledge as I can. I need to succeed in my life in order to help theirs. I can now go back to my checklist and add some more things. Dreams? Check. Goals? Check. College? I heading that way.


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