A Different Side of Bangkok

For the first time in weeks, I did not travel this past weekend.  Granted, it was because I had a huge group presentation and midterms to study for, but still, it was quite an event.  Sadly, studying took up most of the weekend, and there was a lot of studying required, because, truth be told, I have not been great at keeping up with school work here. With it being 96 degrees every day, so many places to visit, and so many delicious types of food to discover, it sort of feels like I am on summer vacation.  It’s just so difficult to concentrate with so many fun things to do.  So to have midterms now is like having exams in the middle of summer vacation… which is not easy.

Nonetheless, I spent Saturday at an event for my internship. I am interning part-time with Step Ahead, a fantastic NGO headquartered here in Bangkok.  Step Ahead was founded by John and Kim Quinley, whose daughter, Carter Quinley, graduated from Richmond this past May.  Step Ahead is a community development organization that works all over Thailand with various populations.  One of their projects is a “Purse Project” that works with women in Pattaya, Thailand.  One in four people living in Pattaya are involved in the sex industry, so this purse project aims at prevention: to prevent poor women from being sexually exploited by giving them an alternative way to make a stable living by making these leather purses.  The products are beautiful — the link to the website is stepahead.myshopify.com.

As part of this internship, my roommate and I went to the International School of Bangkok for a Food Fair event to sell these Itsera bags; the event revolved around a huge room filled with large stands representing the nationalities of  students at ISB, each serving their own traditional food.  So, for example, at the “Israel” stand they were serving falafel, and at the “American” stand, there were delicious brownies, cookies, and apple pie.  Next to this large room was a smaller room where we were selling our bags along with other vendors.

All in all, this was quite a different side of Thailand.  Addie and I live in a very local Thai neighborhood, so we don’t see foreigners on our side of the river often.  ISB, however, is located in a planned community (there is literally a sign at the entrance gates that say “Planned Community”).  It’s like magic; as soon as you pass the guards and drive through the gates you are literally in what looks like an American suburb. There are clusters of gorgeous houses that all surround their own pools; there is a country club, a shopping center, and – get this – golf carts.  The residents get around the enclosed neighborhood (which includes the international school) in golf carts.  Literally, the outside of the school is lined with golf carts belonging to residents. I attended an international school when I lived in Holland when I was younger so this was a bit nostalgic, remembering a similar event we held at my school, overflowing with nationalities from around the world.  But, my goodness, this was also reminiscent of the Stepford Wives.  Nonetheless, I am extremely grateful to be able to experience so many different sides of life in this wonderful city.

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