Intrepid Girl Reporter

Wednesday, 1/30: notes from Chiang Mai
January 30, 2008, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The computer in the airport only accepts 10 baht coins, and will only allow Internet usage in ten minute increments, and (most irritatingly) does NOT have a displayed USB port, which means I cannot charge my poor, ailing iPod. But I still have forty-five minutes before my flight leaves, thanks to a delay that I’m starting to learn is a pattern for AirAsia. That, and people shoving each other to get onto the plane.

I spent a ridiculous amount on myself in Thailand. And other people, too, but a lot on me – not really by the standards of the people with whom I live, but certainly by the standards of the people with whom I was living. Being here has caused me to seriously consider my choice of career field; I had a long talk with Hallim last night in which she posited the exact argument that I’ve always given – i.e. that development issues aren’t unique to the developing world, that “help” often equals “ideological imposition,” that no one necessarily knows what the consequences of our actions will be, and I found myself in the unique position of having to explain my chosen field of study and work in a way that wouldn’t contradict that framework. Because I agree with her. And yet this is still what I want to do, especially after being here, realizing that I spend more on myself in six months than most of the people I’ve met in the past five days spend on themselves in a year.

This is what I tell myself: There is problem after problem, everywhere in the world. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, and I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do. But I do want to be offered as many options as possible, and I think everyone has the right to know about all of the choices available to them. I want to create options: maybe in education, maybe in economic development, maybe in public health, maybe for press freedom, maybe in all of them. I know that there are issues in my own country, and I want those to be fixed too, but personally, I want to work with the so-called “developing world,” not because I feel pity, not because I think that we’re all necessarily so much better off, but simply because that is what I want to do and I’ll do something better if I want to do it.

We met elephants who were fed only soda and sweets until they were sent to the two charity elephant hospitals in Chiang Mai. We also met people from the hospitals who explained how the two hospitals are feuding, and how each one believes that it’s better than the other. Since I was little, I’ve always been made so easily sad. I want to stop being sad. So here we are. Thank you, Thailand.


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