During the summer of 2011, I had a priceless opportunity to spend 7 weeks with 17 PhD students from Thailand, who came to my university (Old Dominion University in Virginia, USA) for collaboration and dissertation writing. My job was to be their event organizer essentially. I, along with my supervisor and colleagues, planned variety of events for them, provided housing for them, showed them around the city, and helped them learn about American culture and education system. It was one of the best summers I have had in the US. These students, whom I call my Thai family, were some of the most kind, generous, welcoming, smart, genuinely happy, and motivated individuals I have ever met. Majority of them were involved in some sort of education work back in Thailand and some were even farmers. Their ages varied from 27-50 (if I am not mistaken), but all of them got along as if they were one, regardless of their age differences. They took me in as of their own the day that I met them. I spent almost every day with them for those 7 weeks and by the end of our journey I could not imagine life without them. I got to learn about their culture, ate their home made delicious food with them, learned a few words in Thai, had great conversations, and so much more that words cannot describe. One amazing thing I learned from them is how to genuinely happy and just have fun in life, no matter what age you are or how much money you have. All of them came from simply life and they talked often about how much they missed their home life and small towns and farms. They were very excited to visit the USA but were just as happy to return to their homes and their lives full of simplicity and happiness. Many people think it is materialistic things or job statuses that bring us happiness but these people proved to me yet again that the simpler you live the happier you are. I am talking about true happiness, not the happiness that you experience for a specific moment; I am talking about the kind of happiness that runs deep inside of you and the kind that makes you peaceful and content in your life every day. I hope that you too will have an opportunity to spend some time with great people from another culture and explore their ways of life and discover what happiness is for you.
Things I am thankful for: self-improvement, meditation, coffee (always), new opportunities, and meeting new people.
Advice of the Day: Get to know another culture. Immerse yourself in a culture different from yours. It can be your friend’s, colleague’s, neighbor’s, or anyone you feel comfortable spending some time with. Learn about their ways of life, their foods, the history of their people, their traditions, and anything else they are willing to share with you. It is fascinating how different cultures are around the world, but at the same time how similar the people are. You will likely learn more about yourself in the process as well. You will develop a new appreciation for your own culture and where you come from. Learning is essential to life and what best way to learn if not from one another.