Monday, July 03, 2006

Through Thai Eyes - VI

Dear Teacher,

I'm absolutely alive and doing fine here. Thank you so much. I still enjoy working and making the money for school. Since I have to be leaving soon, so I try hard to make money as much as I can.

The wage in America is such interesting. It's totally different from Thailand. I get paid $9 dollars per hour. It's pretty great! Do you notice the workers building the dormitories in our university town in Isan? They get paid just about 180 Baht per a whole long day ($5) !!! The quality of life is so much more different!!!

Does every job in America provide the hourly payment? In Thailand, we get paid monthly; except jobs in fastfood stores like KFC, Pizza Hunt, Chester Grill, Mc Donald etc., that pay the money hourly.

So, are your satisfied with the way you get paid in Thailand? If you were still in America, you'd get paid hourly and can use the money every two weeks, right? But in my country, you have to wait untill the last business day of the last week of each month for getting the money!!!

And well, with the diferent pay rate between Thailand and America, why you left a huge amount of money behind and earn the small one in my country? Because I know that you used to work in the bank, and that you could earn much more money than working in school here. Are you happy with that?

However, I like the way you chose. I like the way you think. I love the way you teach, my professinal teacher. I know that you want to give back the value to the society. You forgot to think of your own benefit but emphasize on the good deed you can do for the society. That's what almost people hardly do so. You're my great teacher.

Some more matters to be discussed, talk to you later my professional teacher.

Your Thai Student in USA


My Dear Student,

Yes wages are nice and high in the USA, but as you've noticed, expenses are high too! I could only afford to eat out two or three times a week in the USA, and my monthly house payment was more than I earn in one month in Thailand!

Most factory and service jobs in the USA are paid hourly (service jobs like cashiers, fast food stores, hotels, hair salons, etc.) However, most professional (or "white collar") jobs are paid monthly (banking, marketing, teaching, managers in most companies, etc.)

I've been in "white collar" jobs since I graduated from college (teaching, banking, international business, etc.), so I've been paid monthly for all these years. So, it's natural for me to get paid the same way in Thailand. I'm used to "stretching" my budget over 30-31 days!

Because expenses are so low in Thailand (especially Isaan), I can save a higher percentage of my pay in Thailand than I could in the USA. In my home country, despite a high wage, by the end of the month I had no money left. Now, I make less than 15% of that, but I have money left at the end of the month! (Amazing Thailand!) Also, I feel my standard of living is much more comfortable here in Thailand. For me, it's stress-free, worry-free, no car to worry about payments and maintenance, can eat out for all meals, etc.) I almost feel like I'm partly retired!

Meanwhile, my fellow workers and many of my friends back in the USA are slaving away at jobs they don't like, under the pressure of bills (making payments for a house, a car, expensive vacations, etc), and not really enjoying life to the fullest (in my opinion). Some of them are getting physically ill because of the stress they live with. That's not how I want to live the last 1/3 of my life!

Most of my friends and family back in the USA think of me as

#1: very lucky (Thailand has a good reputation among Americans as a friendly country, and with an exotic culture) and...

#2: I'm one of the few people they know who can live out their dreams. I agree with them. :-)

Finally in closing, such kind words from you, my gracious student. You are so perceptive to be thinking about these deeper things which I call "matters of the heart." You are looking beyond the surface of people's actions to try to understand what motivates them. That's a good, life-long exercise in understanding people and life in general, I think!

I've found out that the quality of life is not in "what you have", but it's in "what you don't need." In Thailand I have wonderful warm friends, a very satisfying career, and a chance to broaden my mind and experience by living in a different culture (a dream of mine for more than 20 years before actually doing it!).

Yes, I will look forward to discsussing more with you when you come back. We should have a lunch or two together (along with your friends, if you'd like) when you get home, and talk about your experiences and new perceptions.

It has been so fun to see my own culture through your eyes. It's been an eye-opener! I am very appreciative of your efforts to share your insights. I've been sharing your thoughts with my own friends (in Thailand and USA), and they have enjoyed them fully as well. You have provided a unique understanding to quite a few people, not just your Ajarn!

See you back at the University very soon!
Your Teacher