Let me start off by saying that I am not a black teacher in Thailand. However, I am a black male in my early 30's who recently returned from vacation in Bangkok, Pattaya and Ko Samet about 2 1/2 weeks ago; it was my first trip out of the States. I also want it to be known that I am a college graduate with a degree in English and journalism from Western Michigan University. Currently, I live in Los Angeles and I am a talent executive for a major cable network.
Though I have not been, nor am I black teacher in Thailand, I felt compelled to e-mail you my two cents after reading the disheartening, but honest e-mails from some Black Americans teachers in Thailand. Overall, my experience in Thailand was a positive one. I felt most of the Thai people were very friendly at restaurants and other business establishments, except at one of the money exchange centers near my hotel in Bangkok who was completely rude and barley looked at me, if at all.
Throughout my travels I did very much get stared at. Heads often turned as I walked down the street. When I was in Ko Samet I definitely felt the hesitation and/or fear of dealing with me by some of the Thai people, even at restaurants. I went with a group of mostly white men and one half Taiwanese friend and felt they were paid attention to more than I was, but that happens here in the U.S. as well. I met a young Thai female who told our native Thai friend that she had never met a Black American before. I wasn't that surprised. Clearly, I was the fish out of water and truly felt it, but I was also completely fine with it.
Needless to say, I had an amazing time in Thailand and definitely would return. I stumbled upon your blog because I was looking for teaching programs in Thailand. I have decided that I too would like to broaden my horizons and teach in Thailand so I thought, until I read the various blogs from former black teachers. I must say, I have more than a little trepidation about teaching in Thailand, as I certainly do not want the added stress of prejudice and discrimination when I'm in another country, which is already stressful enough. I am fully aware that the perceptions, stereotypes and flat out racism reach far beyond North America. We as Black Americans can not escape our badge of color; we will live with it through sickness and health, 'till death do us part.
If there is someone out there who could shed a little more light on their experiences teaching in Thailand or another country I would greatly appreciate it, as I do not want someone else's experience to turn me away from pursuing such a rewarding, life changing opportunity and journey across continents.