Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Thai Generosity

Please imagine for me, if you will, the following:

You volunteer to house a complete stranger in your home. They are from a foreign country, and beyond knowing they are here as a volunteer to "do some good," you know little else. You don't know their past, sex, trustworthiness, communication skills, how dedicated they are to their job, or the myriad other details that make up an individual.

You welcome them into your arms, family, and home full well expecting: cultural differences and the potentially awkward situations that arise, instability in your typically stable life, situations that are difficult, frustrating, and/or embarrassing, and your monthly bills to rise. You give them the complete and utter trust that you typically only afford close friends and family members.

However, you can reasonably hope for: Laughs, cultural exchange, new experiences, sharing knowledge, maybe even creating a true bond, and even a few bucks thrown your way to cover costs.

This is exactly what my host-family is currently doing, save for the whole "get a few bucks back."

Upon talking to them about paying rent, my host-mother gave me a most incredulous look, stated, "mai ao." Do not want. They were more than happy to host a Peace Corps Volunteer and found it ludicrous to accept money for it, regardless of me costing them who knows what per month. Instead, they worked it out with my school director to donate the money to the school, as the students who attend it are generally poorer and the school needs the money.

It's actions like this that make me doubt the whole "random acts of kindness" in Thailand. They occur far too frequently to be labeled as such, and are, to me, clearly a cultural phenomenon. Taking care of others, instead of oneself, is far more important.


  1. happy heart! love to hear about your amazing family. I still talk to my family, even though I had so little time with them. Sounds like yours is amazing. Keep the good stuff coming Jay!!