oh, wow

Today is our last day of high school. It feels unreal. Surreal. Dreamlike, even. It feels like I was never going to get to this point, thought I’d die first, because it has been such a long, long time here. It’s been fourteen long, long years. My entire life here.

When I’m sitting in my car at night, passing the orange, yellow lights of the city lights, listening to my favourite songs through my earphones, my mind wanders to what would happen to us. I see the highway road diverge, growing farther and farther apart with each passing second that the car continues on by. The lights that carries through are separated, until the paths no longer run parallel. As the car runs along a bridge, I look down and see more roads, more paths that we see, yet would never cross again.

Those who come into our lives are the roads that merge with us, and they run alongside us until they decide to diverge, splitting off into the night.

I hope that once we’re finished from ICS, we’d all have great, fulfilling lives filled with opportunities. My time here at ICS has taught me so much, and I cannot thank enough for everything that was given to me here. Right at the last moment. Though my heart may be angry at some due to recent complications, I would rather not dwell, and leave this place with what good we have left of each other.

Not long ago, I wrote a poem while I was sitting outside in the evening, thinking about what it’s like to leave a place I’ve known all my life. I had to get my thoughts in order, and find it in myself so I would understand,  leaving the life I’ve grown to ever know. Here it is:

Like a good book,
It seems hard to reach the end
Saying “wish this could last forever”
“Wish to relive it again”
But the end of a good book
Brings the chance to start anew
It may be hard in the beginning
But that time is just a few
The trudge in the first few chapters
Is nothing too surprising
‘Cause when the vibe feels unfamiliar
Our heart will not be lying
But once given both time and chance
The book could prove to be
Even if we find it unworthy
There is worth in all stories
So once you’ve come to reach the end
Don’t sway, don’t stagger, don’t be afraid
The End don’t mean it’s ending
You’ve got time to go and play
This life of yours still young
So fresh and free and exciting
The paths diverging endless
So wipe your tears, no crying
Because though our paths have split
And our time has come to end
Don’t mean our stories go away
Don’t mean farewell to friends
Because what life gives, it takes
And what it takes, it gives
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Damage and Healing

Sources of healing that Alan Paton presents are things such as spiritual support for a community. Stephen is some sort of leader in their religious ceremonies, and the people in Ndotsheni love him and respect him. They see him as a guide in their lives, and helps them heal. When Stephen left Ndotsheni, it is apparent that the people suffered. When he returned, they rejoice and welcome him with warmth. Another source of healing is family. Stephen feels the urge to go find his son in the city, and leaves his wife to find his son and sister. When he finds his sister, he finds her in a bad place. She has done bad things, and is broken. When he welcomes her back into his life, she starts to heal. However, although she may improve her life a bit, she falls and leaves her source of healing for other things. Another example is with Absalom. He had been doing bad things as well, such as stealing from others. When he made his girlfriend pregnant, he decided to try to settle down, and could have possibly embarked on a path of healing if only he hadn’t accidentally killed Arthur Jarvis.

In my project, I talked about mental sickness of a person, specifically of a soldier. Once he returned from war, he still has the effects of the war lingering in him, traumatising him. Just like in the book, the soldier seeks healing from the one that he loves, someone that he can rely on. Therefore, one of the answers that Alan Paton offered is love and care from a close individual.

Holistic solutions that he propose that are still applicable in our persistently damaged world is love. If we care for one another, just like how Stephen cared for his divided family, and how James Jarvis cared for Stephen’s community, we can make this world a better place for others. Even though it may not fix the entire world, the ambition of one who is genuine and caring can change the lives of many.

Damage Project

In this country that I grew up in, the wonderful Thailand that I’ve been raised to love, is full of rich culture. The people around here are nice most of the time. However, every good thing will always have a bad side to it, and Thailand does too. Back a few months ago, I had to go do a group project in Sociology class in interviewing the local Thai people about what they think about society. In one interview with a Thai lady, we found out about her view on the criminal justice system.

There is an injustice lying behind the “justice”. The lady, probably somewhere in her 40’s and 50’s, talks about her experiences with the justice system as she mixes coffee and Thai tea for her customers (which was us). She told us about how the rich people can get away easily from punishments that they were convicted of by paying the people in power, while the poor will have to accept the punishment because they have no money to bribe anyone with. At that point, she paused, as if remembering something, and spoke in a huff about a particular famous person who had recently escaped punishment from the court. The corruption of justice systems will often benefit one group of people but take away from another. It is not seen only in Thailand, but in other countries as well, because corruption is caused by the fall into power. Those who don’t know how to handle the power will often fall victim to its charm.

In Thailand, there is also a corruption in the system that people have been talking about lately. Even before we knew the result, it seems that everyone has already known that this one specific person will win either way. The tactics that politicians use take advantage of the way the rules are structured in the government. In the latest election, the person who was previously in power had gone and took advantage of equal voting for all members of society (poor and rich). Because the poor were often not educated, they will be more easily tricked than the rich. Also, the poor are also easily bribed with less money compared with the rich. If politicians go for the bribing route, they will most likely bribe the poor.

In Thai class, we learned that Thailand became a democracy due to people who caused a revolution by tricking those working for them. I was surprised to find out the reason as to why the king at that time did not want to give the country democracy was because he knew that the country was not prepared for that system since our education was not as advanced as western countries. We were raised to believe that democracy is good, and those who fight for it are the good people, while those who go against it are bad. But in Thailand, those who “fought” for democracy only wanted democracy so that they’d have power. They were corrupted, and they corrupted the country.

Answering Che’s Calls to Action

As someone who has the money and in the position that is able to help others, I feel like I will be able to help serve those who are in need in this world. I will be studying communication design in university, which will possibly push me towards the path of designing things that relates to the commercial market. I will hopefully have the skills to be able to communicate with the masses, and have enough money to support myself. If I wished to do so, I may use those skills in advocating for causes. Communication and exposure is extremely important when trying to fight for a cause, because it will allow more people to know about it. If more people knows about it, the more people will support it. If they don’t know about it at all, they will feel that it’s nothing, and won’t feel the need to associating oneself with it.

Take the signs along the roads during this time of election, for example. If we were running in the election, it is important that the people will know us as they decide on who to vote for. So, they decided to put tons and tons of signs with their faces on the sides of the roads. The more they see us, the more familiar they will become with us, and will increase the possibility that they will vote for us. Choosing words for the commercials is also important because those are the things that will communicate to the audience as to what we want them to know about us.

Climate change is a big thing in today’s world, but it is strange because not many people in our society talks about it. The reason for that is because it’s been talked about for so long that it has become a regular thing. What we need is an extreme push to show the destruction that mankind has placed upon the world, and it needs to be more than statistics and news. It needs to become a movement, and most movements are started and created by the media. The media utilizes strategies that controls the movements of the audience, and design is an important part in communicating that. I may be able to take part in it in the future, when I find my place in the world.

Travel and Tourism

Traveling is important in helping us see many different parts of the world, and is crucial in our own growth and understanding of this life. When you travel, you get to experience things that you’ve never encountered in your home country. It is different from seeing the world through a computer or phone screen. That cannot ever compare to the real thing. To be a “responsible tourist”, I think, is to be someone who tries to understand the place they visit rather than trying to use the place for their own leisure. Although it is perfectly fine to do the latter, trying to grasp the world around you would make you become a responsible tourist. For me, I don’t know what exactly would be the most dignified way to travel to a foreign place. The thing that matters is what our purpose for traveling to that place is. If we travel to learn more about the world, then it’s best that we try to put ourselves in the shoes of the community of the place we visit. If we travel there in order to have fun, then they’d probably go to a high class hotel and live leisurely. Some “types” of travel can be immoral, I think. One that I could think of would be how foreigners travel to Thailand with the goal of engaging in activities with sex workers. It damages the reputation of Thailand quite heavily. On the other hand, I guess that helps boost the tourism in Thailand, so that’s a positive thing. It’s mostly bad, though.

After brainstorming about everything that I’ve written, this reminds me of my time in Sapporo. (For the past ten or so years, the only foreign country I’ve ever traveled to is Sapporo, so I can only talk about that.) I can’t say that I had completely put myself in the shoes of the citizens there, but it was close. My friends and I had to communicate in a foreign language, and travel with the Japanese people to our daily destinations. However, we were still given special treatment because we were foreigners. When we did something that went against the norms, we wouldn’t have gotten the same reaction if we were Japanese. (Maybe we did get reactions and we just didn’t notice.) I was responsible when I tried to follow the norms of the community, like not look at others on trains. I was irresponsible when my friends and I biked too fast because it was cold and almost collided with a Japanese teenager. Because my trips to this place, I realized that we have to follow the norms of the place we are in, despite what we grew up with.

Sapporo

Sapporo, a city in the northern island of Japan called Hokkaido, is a city I’ve come to love as something akin to a second home. I’ve gone to Sapporo for summer school three years in a row, and I was able to experience the many beautiful things that the city offers. In my first year, my friend and I stayed with a host in Misono, a quiet, calm place both in the evenings and during the day. The reason for its peace is because the most of the people who reside there are the elderly. Often, on the sidewalks, we see old people walking their dog, or the occasional housewife on the way to the supermarket to shop for her children. Misono is like a place straight out of a movie, and whether it be a soft, romantic movie, or a horror film featuring a silent serial killer on the eerily quiet streets during the nights, that is up to the person. The serenity often stables my restless mind, but occasionally, it frightens me.

In the second year, I was with two friends, and we stayed in a homestay near the Toyohira river. It was a beautiful river, but unfortunately, we hadn’t realized its beauty until it was too late.

In the third year, the same two friends and I stayed in a whole new place, and it was not as calm as the last two. We felt drawn to the place we stayed at during our second year, so we biked all the way from Sapporo city to Toyohira river, and we had a small picnic there. It may sound like I am exaggerating, but it was honestly the happiest time that I have ever had in my life, and I had wished that it would have lasted forever. Just me and two of my friends, sitting on rocky, cool stairs as we gazed at the flowing river, the setting sun sparkling on the waters. Altocumulus clouds overhead were painted with the softening sunlight, and reeds of grass reflected a fascinating gold. My mind was at peace and everything was simple. (Below is a picture that I myself took at that time. )IMG_1339

What I found interesting is that in this quiet, peaceful city of Sapporo, is that there exists a red light district called the Susukino district. It contrasts so greatly with what I’ve seen, and I was really curious about everything that we walked past. We were heading towards a crab buffet, but the sights that greeted my eyes drew my attention.x I don’t think I should go into details of what I saw, but it was mostly teenagers smoking and having fun. The way that the people in this district dressed was completely different from the way people dressed in Misono or the Toyohira river too, and it is probably mainly because of the age differences. The people in Susukino were young, and those in Misono were the elderly.

Different View On Poverty

How has reading this book or discussing in class caused you to think about some of these social issues in a different way?

Ever since I was a young kid, my mom would often tell stories of her rough childhood in poverty. (It wasn’t as bad as Boonma’s state though, I think.) Despite that, before reading the book “No Way Out”, I’ve always felt that poverty was a distant problem from my life and hadn’t thought much about it. The book described in gruesome detail about the characteristics of poverty, and what people really go through. It helped improve my understanding of the circumstances of those people, and made me feel compelled to help these people somehow. I wanted to walk right into a slum and just hand people money from my wallet, because I don’t need the money as much as they do. As of this moment, I want to help those people when I grow up.

Another thing is that I thought that poverty is something that happens to people who don’t try to change their lives. My mom got out of poverty and has much more money now than she did in her past because of her hard work, while some of her siblings struggle with money because they hadn’t worked as hard as she did in their younger years. Because of the stories that my mom tells me, I saw people in poverty as people who don’t try. That worldview has changed over the years, and before I read the book I already was thinking about how people in poverty didn’t have much of a choice, and the book really established that thinking for me.

Another worldview that changed for me is my view on prostitution. In the beginning I felt that it was a very dishonourable profession, and I never wanted to involve myself with those who are in it. Throughout the years I also knew more about it, partly thanks to ICS talking to us about it in chapels and homerooms. When I read to the part where it turns out that Sida and her mom is in prostitution, I felt sympathy for them instead of distaste. They had to choose to either become prostitutes or continue suffering with money, and it is understandable that they chose the former.