Teacher Suporn, my AFS coordinator and English teacher, allowed me to teach my Thai classmates about September 11th, 2001, a tragic day in American history.
The KL-YES Abroad program that has given me this opportunity to live in Thailand for a year was created in response to 9/11.
Here, I try so hard to positively and accurately represent Americans by breaking down stereotypes. Some days, it is hard to carry that responsibility as a sixteen-year-old girl living alone 8,375 miles away. Everyday, I have little breakthroughs and victories that make everything worth it, like today.
I am also here to educate Americans about Thailand and its culture. Many of the people I know in the United States have never or will never go to Asia, or specifically Thailand. You can only assume things about Asian people through your limited knowledge from the news or media. Therefore, you are curious to know how I’ve settled in and how different their foreign culture is. At the end of the day, Thai people may live completely differently but they feel the same way.
Everyone I know here— my host family, teachers, classmates, AFS staff, and more — has been unconditionally kind and patient with me. They encourage me to join their traditional dancing, music, cooking, and more. I have built incredibly strong relationships with them and they have altered my perspective on the world significantly already. I couldn’t be happier or luckier to know them.
I think my classmates did not understand a lot of what I said due to the advanced English that is necessary to explain. However, they respectfully listened to me teach, which isn’t common for a class of fifty teenagers. As they watched clips of the destruction and terror, they were physically taken aback and could not understand why people could hate us so intensely that they could be capable of this. After my lesson, my classmates told me how they felt about 9/11. They said they felt deeply sorry that this happened and that the United States and Thailand will stand strong together. They said that even though they had never been to our country, they are human and understand us.
Despite our countries’ differences like religion, they are not afraid of us and we should not be afraid of them. They give me hope for our future. We will never forget the tragedy of 9/11 but hopefully, our generation can continue to learn and understand each other so that something like this never happens again.