I'm going to tell you an inspiring story of a teacher in Thailand. Gumban is not his real name to keep his identity private. He generously shared with me his glimpses towards going and living in Thailand. His story is so overwhelming that I can hardly keep it all to myself alone. I am sharing his story to all ajarn.com readers so they too, can extract wonderful glimpses of their own situation and be inspired to keep pursuing their dreams and have it realized in "The Land of Smiles."
Dreams Do Come True
Gumban once thought, "Is it love for travel or is it mere coincidence that I am here in Thailand as a teacher? "Is it force of circumstance or matter of choice?" "What has really brought me here?"
Thailand first came into Gumban's life when his history teacher impressed on him that Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by any European power. In his young mind, he was in awe of such a country. "Now, that's interesting," he thought, "How come? Were the people just so nationalistic and such great warriors that they had won all their feats with colonizers? How did Thailand live up to its privileged name, Muang Thai - Land of the Free?"
Although there was a willingness of spirit in him, there was weakness in his body, too, to venture to the country of his dreams. Even after graduation from college he still couldn't fulfill his dream of going to Thailand. He confined himself to watching movies which could transport him to the world of the Thais or which would allow him to get a few glimpses of the country that his heart has gotten so hooked on. He watched movies like "The Bridge Over The River Kwai," and "The King and I." He also read books and magazines about Thailand. The more facts he knew about the country, the more his mind became engrossed by it.
He fell in love with Thailand when he stopped at Don Muang Airport for a stopover en route to Afghanistan to work as a UN volunteer. He had finally seen the country he had admired so much. Moreover, curiosity about it grew when he read and heard stories about the refugees in Phanat Nikhom, in Chonburi Province while he was teaching Indo-Chinese refugees at Bataan Refugee Processing Center in the Philippines.
Although he enjoyed his work in the Philippines, something was missing. There was something lacking in his life and he wanted to identify what it was. It wasn't long though when he figured it out - visiting the country of his dreams. "That's it!" He had the conviction to leave his own country and go to Thailand. "Yes, why not go to Thailand, but how?" he muttered
One day he came across an advertisement saying "Wanted - 100 Teachers in Thailand." "Good God!" His heart leapt with joy and his eyes couldn't believe what he saw! "Was this the key to the door that had been locked for a long time and could only be opened at the prime time of his life?" In his intense excitement he prepared an impressive résumé.
After a week, Gumban received a call congratulating him and telling him that he was one of those qualified for the advertised job, and the project leaders scheduled him for an interview. He passed both the interview and the test. Once again, he was congratulated for passing and was scheduled for a video taping. There were certain requirements though, including some financial outlay, but he attended to all of them one by one. "I'll worry about the financial issues, later."
One day he was asked to make a speech. But before mastering the speech it had to be approved first. Despite a failing memory, he managed to make an outstanding delivery of his speech on video. When the day came, the office had a video camera mounted on a tripod. He prepared himself like an actor scheduled for a shooting of a big stage production. There were lots of takes needed to achieve perfection. Then the assistant remembered the idiot board she had prepared for him and asked him to start all over.
The big problem was the money. Must he borrow from loan sharks in the neighborhood? Must he mortgage his house and lot? He didn't have a carabao (water buffalo) to sell? What must he do? Thoughts began turning over in Gumban's mind but fortunately, his brother worked in Saudi Arabia, and it was to him whom Gumban turned to for help. Without anything in exchange his brother sent him some money. As his friends later said, "You don't have to pay that much if you come to Thailand as a tourist." Well perhaps he was naïve to ignore that one tiny detail. At that very moment all that mattered to him was to be able to fulfill all that was required of him so he could get going onto the next process.
Weeks before departure, three cases of illegal recruitment were aired on television as an expose of Filipinos taking advantage of fellow Filipinos. Gumban felt nervous as ever. On his way, to the agency he couldn't refrain from entertaining negative thoughts in his mind. What it everything was a fake? What if the agency was a fly-by-night one? What if there was no work and the departure would be postponed? It would be a shame then - a terrible embarrassment to him and to his family.
But after a month of his stay in Thailand, Gumban was hired to work on the Nonthaburi Teachers Project.
He gives thanks his Filipino, American and Thai friends who have made his stay in Thailand so rewarding. Most of the people who got acquainted with him call him "the lucky one".
His experience was like a baptism of fire. He underwent all those travails of any newbie in Thailand like finding a decent and affordable apartment, doing the visa run, the difficulty of communicating in Thai, job hunting, and the hard part, culture shock. But what's great about Gumban is how his life has transpired throughout those circumstances, difficulties and challenges. He he never lost hope. He went on believing and praying that dreams really do come true with much persistence and hard work, In his own perfect timing, his prayers and his heart's desires were granted.
I ardently hope more and more people will be inspired by Gumban's strong-hearted faith and will. And I agree with him, ‘Keep on Believing'. The road to achieving one's dream will never be easy but it is traceable, doable and realizable by God's grace and with effort on our part.