The purest of smiles crawls across young Chem’s face. This smile, in a split second, seared itself onto my eyes but for a lifetime engraved itself in my memory. In this moment I can smell the steam of rice noodles cooking behind me, I can hear, like a permanent soundtrack to my days; school children playing and the stroke of the brush as monks sweep the school grounds night and day, I can feel the hot concrete underneath my feet but most importantly I can feel the joy I have bought to the young Thai boy standing in front of me as he dances around with pure uninhibited freedom and unquantifiable happiness. The act of gifting him a bag is the driver, I find this is the first gift he has ever received. We lack a common language but he wraps his arms around me to show thanks in this most universal of ways. Forgetting in this moment I am his teacher; but instead his friend. The intensity of the hug provides a warmth and energy the intensity of which I have never felt before.
"We lack a common language but he wraps his arms around me to show thanks in this most universal of ways."
In that precious moment with young Chem I look around at my sandy surroundings observing underneath the blazing sun the Thai school children who play so freely in front of me, each one owning little more than the smile on their faces. Yet every morning these same children come hurtling towards me with infinite happiness; grateful to be alive and ready to face the day. I find this inspiring, uplifting and impressive.
Opportunities are limited in Bang Pa Han, this small remote town. of which many would view as an area that has little to offer these school children, but it is an area that has everything and it has enough for them at present. This leads me to reconsider who is being taught here; it is a fact I am there to teach English, yet I am learning a new lesson every day from this ensemble. In reality we have everything we need if we only chose to see and appreciate it.
"A life concentrated on only making a living leaves no room for living life itself."
I learnt very early the difference between making a living and making a life. A life concentrated on only making a living leaves no room for living life itself. My understanding of this crucial concept changed the way I view life, forever. My priorities had shifted against the social norm and step by step it led me to Watnak School with my life in a backpack and a bucket for a shower.
I can feel Chems little arms squeezing my waist tightly as he repeatedly thanks me in Thai. Such happiness from this simple act and from an item many would hold little value to.
The time spent in Bang Pa Han I grant as my happiest day on Earth, learning that day the biggest lesson of my life thus far, if we find gratitude in what we have, we find we have everything we need.
About the AUTHOR
Jasmines passion is documenting. Documenting in every which way I can; whether it's creating a vlog, a picture on her DSLR, a short film or her Polaroid camera. It began with her iPhone whilst living in Thailand in early 2016 and as her passion for travel took hold so did her passion to document it and present to the world how she sees it through her eyes. Currently living life on the road and through her lense in South East Asia. A friend once told her that the art of photography was not always to take pictures of something that's interesting but to take pictures of something that's not and show the interest within it.