By Abby Murray
“Same same, but different.” The first time I heard this phrase, it did not faze me. I saw it on a t-shirt for sale on one of the most famous streets in Bangkok, Khaosan Road. As the trip went on, I kept hearing this saying and seeing it everywhere. However, it wasn’t until the plane ride back to the US that I started to think about what it really meant. The land of the Thai is another world. It has a different culture, a different landscape, a different language. However, it is comprised of people who have the same wants and needs as every other human around the world. Every person has an innate desire to be happy. I feel blessed to have participated in this study abroad experience because I know that it will positively affect my thoughts and actions throughout the rest of my life. I will never forget the morals and values represented by the Buddha, the King, Chief Baan Yafu, Kookai, and other Thai people I encountered during this trip.
I may not have experienced the great enlightenment like the Buddha, but I can say that I have a greater appreciation for my education and my career opportunities. I hope to never forget what the Thai people have taught me and how I can be a role mode to others. Whether it be through simple smiles or implementing a corporate social responsibility initiative that directly serves people in need, I want to enhance the lives of others.
I know that true personal fulfillment comes from making other people happy. And a smile is contagious. If anyone ever asks me about what they should do or see while visiting Thailand, I will tell them to make sure they see the temples, the botanical garden, take time to relax on an island, enjoy a Thai massage, and see a Muy Thai fight. However, the most important piece of advice I will tell them is to spend time with Thai people. Whether it be through hill tribe visits, volunteering at the Christian Care Foundation or the Magnolia School, having a conversation with the taxi driver or the tour guide, or even just waving and saying “sah wah dee kah” to the effervescent greeter at the hotel every morning, personal interaction with Thai people is an experiential lesson about how to live happily. Any person who follows this recommendation will surely return home smiling.