I would like to say that my latest writing assignment given to my grade 10 and 11 classes has given me hope; but I can't. While some of the writing showed ‘glimmers of hope', at least in my eyes, many of the opinions my students shared unfortunately matched the biased, ignorant, and bigoted statements made incessantly by many Thai adults.
I love my students. And through my writing assignments I strive to ‘get into their heads'; ‘to probe the deep and dark recesses of their minds'; and yes, ‘to touch their hearts' along the way. No "What is your favorite color?" and "Do you like pizza?" in my classes. My reading and writing assignments are above the mundane and the obtuse.
I don't know whether I'm supposed to feel surprised, shocked, or appalled at any of the responses. However, I am pleased and honored. Pleased with my students and honored that they took the time and responded to this assignment with such boldness and brazen honesty.
I put the writing assignment on the whiteboard, and then explained it. It looked like this:
Foreign Men and Thai Girlfriends
1) Good / Bad / Good and bad
(a) Foreign men to Thai girlfriend.
(b) Thai women to foreign boyfriend.
I have one hundred and seventeen (117) students in total in five different classes, (a grade 11 reading class was added this semester.) They range from 15 to 17 years of age. One hundred and ten (110) students took part over two 50 minute class periods. Seven (7) students were absent. Sixty-eight (68) students (62 percent) thought that foreign men and their Thai girlfriends were a good idea; twenty-two (22) students (20 percent) believed it was bad; and twenty (20) students (18 percent) thought it was good and bad.
This is neither scientific nor is it a social survey Thai mores. It is simply my attempt at understanding my students and how they are the products of their society; a society that is constantly in flux. It is important to understand and acknowledge that while many of my students freely gave their opinion on this contentious topic, they are also members of a family, a community, a region, and a society that demands of them their time, their obedience, and in some extreme cases, their potential and their very essence. I am fully aware that my students, and the answers they gave in writing assignments, are influenced by temperament, the history of their country, and the prevailing social climate.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I also come at this with my own biases, opinions, and experience, both good and bad. I am not against Thai women running after foreign men nor am I against foreign men lusting after Thai women. Simply put, I am for what works and I'm against that which does not work.
Admittedly I was looking for the ‘golden nugget' in this writing assignment. By the golden nugget, I mean someone who has the courage to stand up and say,
"I don't like what's happening to my country. We are losing our history. We are losing our traditions. We are losing our pride, self-respect, and dignity as people and as a nation. We are selling our individual and collective soul to the devil. And it may be too late to get it all back."
I am looking for a hero and Thailand's future leader. He or she may not be in my class, but I'm hoping he or she is. I found that golden nugget. You can see her at the top of this blog holding her writing assignment. I will include her writing in full towards the end of this blog.
Most of the students, as lovely as they are, are also incapable of forming a coherent English sentence both in its spoken and written form. This is a product of bad teaching, lax parenting, and a loveless and compassionless educational system which uses the students for their own nefarious ends while squashing to death any creativity and potential many of the students once had. Because of this, I had to make some corrections in much of their writing in order for it to be understood. So a sentence such as this,
"I think so bad because Thai girl went have money foreign men only."
Was rewritten in this blog to look like this:
"I think foreign men and Thai girlfriends are bad because Thai girls only want money from foreign men." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
It retains its original meaning and becomes grammatically correct. Spelling mistakes were also corrected.
By the way, that was a very common opinion regardless of whether the students thought that Thai women and their foreign boyfriends were a good idea, a bad idea, or both: Slightly more than half of the students (58 of them, or about 55 percent) mentioned money as an important or determining factor in why it is either a good idea or a bad idea for Thai women to date or marry foreigners. That should not come as a surprise to those who have lived in the "Land of Smiles" for any significant period of time. Personally, I would have thought that more students think this way given the current social and political climate in this country regarding money and the Thai people's innate propensity to turn just about every human interaction into a potential financial scheme.
I also asked the students to outline some of the problems these couples may have, and any advice they can give them: Advice to a Thai woman who wants a foreign boyfriend and advice to a foreign man who craves a Thai gal.
Here are some random responses from the students, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the humorous.
"It's good because it makes a new experience for life and we know about the foreign man." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think foreign man and Thai girlfriend is good because it changes languages between people. Foreign man teaches languages to Thai girlfriend and Thai girlfriend teach languages to foreign man too."
(A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think it's good because foreign men have money and foreign man handsome." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think foreign men and Thai girlfriend is good because a baby of foreign men and Thai girlfriend will talk English very well and learn Thai very good." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it good because if Thai girl have a son or daughter they will be handsome and pretty and have a better life. The problem is that foreign men have many wife so Thai girlfriends will feel sad." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it's a bad thing because many foreign men take love and Thai girl believe them, but it's not true." (A 17 year old grade 11 female)
"The first problem is that foreign men have many wives and Thai girlfriends will feel sad." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it's good because foreign men and Thai girlfriends will change culture together and I think Thailand will have many languages." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think it's bad because I don't like foreign men, I like Thai men. I think Thai people get many problems from foreigners, like Thai teenagers use the wrong Thai language. It makes wrong culture and makes half-blood people. So now Thailand has more half-blood people than in the past." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"Foreign man must take care of Thai girl because Thai girl have small body." (A 17 year old grade 11 female)
"I think it's good because we can learn his or her language. He can know about her culture and she can know about his culture too. The first problem is time because Europe has different time than Thailand. Sometimes you can't sleep because in Europe it's morning but Thai is evening." (A 17 year old grade 11 female)
"I like foreign men more than Thai boyfriend because Thai boyfriend drinks alcohol and have many girlfriends. When Thai lady have problems, Thai men never stay with her. Most Thai lady wants to marry with a foreigner because they have happiness and don't cry. Sometime in the future I want to marry with a foreign man like my aunt. I see her always smile and the world has a pink color. Right now she has 4 babies. She don't work job because her husband don't want my aunt to work. When I do wrong to foreign man he forgive me, but when I do wrong to Thai man, he never forgive me. Foreign men good man. May God bless you." (A 17 year old grade 11 female)
I consider myself fortunate this year for a few reasons. I love the students I have and I'm enjoying a good quality of life here in Northeast Thailand. I look forward to getting up each morning and coming to school. I also enjoy my time off. I am also sharing space in the teacher's room of my school with several other foreign teachers as well as a few Thai teachers. A few of the Thai teachers can be infantile and noisy, but that's life in a teacher's room. Some of the foreign teachers are a pain in the ass, but that's also life in a teacher's room.
One of these foreign teachers is a 60 year old Australian man. I love his stories. In fact, I love all the stories from the foreign teachers: The good, the bad, and the ugly. This 60 year old Aussie first came to Thailand in 1975. Life here was very different back then, according to him. There was far less greed and materialism. The Thais were nicer back then with a sight touch of naivety and xenophobia: Both endearing traits as far as
I'm concerned. As for the women, well, according to this 60 year old Aussie, the only way a foreign man can "have" a Thai lady way back then, (at least in the Biblical way), was to parade around the ‘red-light' districts with a wad of cash. And from what I understand, it didn't take a lot of cash. Most Thai ladies in 1975 were far too respectable to be seen with a foreign man.
Anyway, this 60 year old Aussie, who is really no different than most foreign men in Thailand, has a 28 year old Thai girlfriend. This 28 year old Thai girlfriend works in a factory for 8,000 baht a month, about $270.00 U.S. based on the current exchange rate of 30 baht to the U.S. dollar. According to the Aussie, she enjoys the independence of having a job gives her as well as the camaraderie with her colleagues.
But wait! The 60 year old Aussie has an idea. "So last week I told her that you don't have to work for slave wages. Come and live with me, darling, and I'll give you 10,000 a month."
Ten thousand baht a month! What a guy. What a man. What a hero! Three hundred and thirty U.S. dollars a month to share a room and a bed with a 60 year old, 100 kilogram Aussie with a bad hip. Wow! That must be every Thai woman's dream.
But wait again! She said no. The 28 year old factory worker said no. Hallelujah, maybe there is some hope after all. "So she rejected my 10,000 baht a month offer", he tells the rest of us in the teacher's room. "She wants 20,000."
Holy crap! Twenty thousand baht a month to share a room and a bed with a 60 year old, 100 kilogram Aussie with a bad hip! What's this world coming to?
Yes I know that there are some beautiful and wonderful western men/Thai woman relationships and marriages. I have seen them and have heard from several men. But they are in the minority. They are the exceptions. Once again, I'm not against cross-cultural marriages or relationships. However, I am against exploitation from all sides and any angle. And I am horrified by the stories all over Southeast Asia of children born and abandoned by these pathological unions. It is always the children that are the ultimate victims. It's always the children that suffer most.
Thailand does indeed have a huge problem with dirt-poor and uneducated women and their old, fat western partners-in-crime. But it's not the only country in Southeast Asia where its young, poor, and disadvantaged female population has sold their individual and collective soul for a slice of the financial pie. The Philippines is another case in point. This from the Philippine Inquirer:
500,000 Filipino Mail-Order Brides Worry Villar
Websites promoting marital match to be probed too
By Veronica Uy
Inquirer.net First posted 16:18:00 08/31/2007.
Filed Under: Internet, crime, laws, relationships and dating
MANILA, Philippines --- Despite a law banning mail-order marriages about 300,000 to half a million Filipino mail-order brides continue to leave the country each year and Senate President Manny Villar wants this investigated.
Politicians in Southeast Asia may pay lip service every now and then to preserving and protecting the dignity of their women, but when push comes to shove, money wins every time. Politicians, law enforcement, bar owners, financial institutions, parents, drug dealers, pimps, dead-enders, and just about every good-for-nothing in between is involved one way or another in the sex industry, the mail-order bride industry, the ‘romance tour' industry, the internet cyber girl industry, and every other industry and "dating" websites that peddles human flesh to old, fat, bored, and lonely foreign men. And make no mistake. It is an industry. In the west we say "money talks", but in Thailand, "money screams." It screams loud and it screams proud. And sometimes it screams bloody murder; the murder of bodies and souls.
In their Faustian deal with the devil, it seems that the ultimate price paid for financial security and a better life by many of today's Thai women (and others in Southeast Asia) may be very high indeed. But don't take my word for it. Take the words of my 15, 16, and 17 year old students. Don't listen to me; listen to them.
"I think it's good because Thai girlfriends will be rich so Thailand has money from foreign so much. And Thai girl have a son so very handsome and speak English very well. It's making Thailand famous country. I love Thailand!" (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"My opinion is that foreign men and Thai girlfriends are good because foreign men are rich and Thai girl will have better life." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think it's good because foreign men have a lot of money and Thai women will have a comfortable life." (A 15 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it's good and bad. I would like a foreign man to take of me and my family. But some foreign men drink a lot of alcohol, not have a job and it's not good in my opinion." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it's good and bad, but up to them personally. Some foreign men cheat Thai girl and some Thai girl cheat foreign men too. They just want only money but no true love. This is bad." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"I think it's good and bad, it is up to them. Most Thai girl who want foreign men, she want a better life and money." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"In my opinion it is both good and bad. An advantage is the exchange of culture, languages, and technologies. A disadvantage is that some people do not really love each other and deceive each other. Thai women sometimes behave badly; foreign sales of service to men, or struggling to find a foreign husband. And sometimes she makes herself look ugly and inappropriate. It's detrimental to society and nation." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"In my opinion I think foreign men and Thai girlfriends are good and bad because if Thai girl marries with good foreign men she is happy and her family is happy. She will have a lot of money, house, car, and everything she wants. But if many Thai girls marry with foreign men, Thailand won't have culture and everyone will speak English. A problem is that they can't understand each other. My advice is to understand each other's culture and find good people with heart and true love." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"My opinion is good and bad. Problem is most Thai girls choose foreign men become they are rich. Most Thai girls think they will be richer and happier because they believe money is everything." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think it's very good because we will change culture, language, and food. I think foreigners very good for economy." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think foreign men and Thai girlfriends are good. I like foreign men because they are rich and handsome. Thai girlfriends think foreign men love her forever, but problem is foreign men think Thai girls lie and don't love him. She loves money more than him. Most Thai girls are that, very bad." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"For me I think it's good because foreign men will support Thailand. Thailand will develop in everything, example: Sports, language. If Thailand doesn't have foreigners, Thai people won't develop." (A 16 year old grade 10 male)
"I think I like foreign men because foreign men are clever and rich. But I don't like foreign men who don't care for me. If I have a foreign man, I will travel and go shopping. Thai girlfriends are sexy girls and hot girls." (A 16 year old grade 10 female)
"Thai woman must learn languages and Thai woman must change ideas about money because Thai woman thinks foreign man is very rich and kill foreign man in the end." (A 17 year old grade 11 male)
"I think it's good because Thai woman have a new experience and foreign man give me money for Thai girlfriend." (A 17 year old grade 11 male)
Have you noticed that many of the students said that they would like a foreign man because "he could take care of my family?" I have. There's nothing in their writing about taking care of the foreign man's family. Nothing about taking care of a foreign man's ageing mother or a father with Alzheimer's disease. It's as if the foreign man's family doesn't exist. This lack of reciprocity should concern even the most ignorant of westerners.
These teenagers, as lovely as they are, are not the same teenagers that we find back home. They are far less idealistic and far more pragmatic. While some expressed a desire and a yearning to find true love, many more of them did not. Love has taken a back seat to opportunity. While many ignorant and gullible foreigners are walking around Southeast Asia thinking that these girls really love them, these girls and their families see nothing but an opportunity. True love be damned! Just give me the cash.
I subtitled this blog "In Defense of Exclusion, Discrimination, and Xenophobia." There's a reason for that. Recently we had two days of sports activities at my school. There were no classes and the students got to play games, run around, dress up in funny costumes, and cheerlead. Schools all across Thailand do this once a year, and, quite frankly, it was fun to watch.
One of the foreign teachers complained, "Why don't the Thais include us? I would be glad to referee or help out in any way. That's the problem here. They don't include foreigners."
My silent response to that was: Thank God they didn't include me. When I wanted to watch the mirth and merriment, I simply stepped outside and walked downstairs to the playground. When I was hungry, I simply walked across the street and ordered some of that crispy pork and rice that I love so much. And when it got too hot outside, I simply went back to the air-conditioned teacher's room and played around on my laptop. So please continue to exclude me. When it comes to extracurricular activities, (which the Thai administrators show almost no real planning, and keep changing schedules faster than I can change my socks), I much prefer to watch my lovely students from afar. My point here is this: Have you read the writings from my students? Playing referee in some little boy's football match is small potatoes for these people. Many of the Thais have much bigger plans for us.
As for discrimination, there was a time not so long ago when a man who practiced a certain type of discrimination was referred to as a ‘connoisseur', as in ‘this man has discriminating taste.' Those who don't discriminate in their personal life are in for a lot of trouble. Yes I discriminate and I'm damn proud of it. I will not marry or have a relationship with a dirt poor farmer's daughter from Southeast Asia, even though I have had such relationships in the past. I would like to think that I have learned something from those experiences. Again, have you read the writings from my students?
A wife, regardless of nationality, religion, or race, must be an asset to the marriage, not a liability; or God forbid, a financial parasite. She must continually add something to the union, not endlessly subtract from it. This is how I discriminate. If I were to look for a wife, again, regardless of nationality, she would have to have at least these:
*** A university degree
*** A steady and regular job that pays well.
*** A work ethic
*** Parents who are in a stable marriage
*** No criminal background (that includes ‘bargirl' or prostitution)
*** Morality, dignity, integrity, and self-respect
*** Money in the bank (at least $100,000 U.S. would be nice)
*** A proven track record that she can indeed save money and support her family.
How's that for discriminating taste, gentlemen?
As for my defense of a more xenophobic Thai society, one of the problems with Thai society vis-à-vis foreigners is not that the Thais are xenophobic; it's that most of them are no longer xenophobic. Once again, have you read the writings from my students?
Xenophobia literally means fear of strangers. Moreover, it is a deep and irrational fear of strangers. Thais, and other Southeast Asians, who take so much pride and exert such effort in ripping off foreigners don't seem xenophobic to me. Thai girls and Filipinas who chase after foreign men twice or thrice their age for financial security don't seem afraid of those foreign men to me. Those Southeast Asians who use foreign men and their money for their own nefarious ends don't seem irrational to me. Their overzealous chase of foreign men and their money is very well planned, very well executed, and rational to the extreme. My 60 year old Aussie colleague, whom I like (I say that because he may be reading this), likes to remind everyone how the Thais were much more fearful of foreigners when he first come to Thailand in 1975.
At the beginning of this blog I said that I would share what I referred to as the ‘golden nugget' that I was searching for. The 17 year old grade 11 student in the picture at the top of this blog is holding her writing. Her name is Arpaporn and I have been looking for a girl like her for years: A girl with courage; a girl with the convictions of her beliefs; a girl who sees what's here and what's coming, and doesn't like it. Here is her writing in its entirety errors and all. But it is clearly understandable.
"Foreign men and Thai girlfriend"
I think a most of Thai people would like to marry with foreigner because they prefer goods to real love. Thai woman have a big problem and most problem is a money. If a foreign man don't have a lot money, it's difficult to have a Thai girlfriend.
I don't like a foreign men because they look not polite and don't care Thai women. It make me don't like and never think to marry with a foreign. Love and family is important more than money. If we don't have happiness, money can't buy it. The most foreign men come to Thailand because they can't live in their country.
Thai women have a foreign husband because they love money and a happiness. It make a problem about culture and language. They look Thai women as poor and stupid. I want to love a Thai man and take care him. I don't want money for happiness."
That gets an ‘A' from me, mostly for content and the courage to speak out. Foreign men who think that Thai women are the greatest thing since sliced bread need not worry. That is a minority opinion. Only 20 percent of the 110 students who wrote thought that way. I wish it were higher; a lot higher. Arpaporn wants to take her country back and I love her for that. I admire and respect anyone who stands up for their nation this way.
Arpaporn is a lovely girl, and much too polite to tell foreign men what they can do with their money. But I'm not. What she is also saying is,
"Take all your money, your house with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, your condo with a panoramic view of the sea, your car, your boat, your fancy clothes, your alligator shoes, your designer underpants; take all of your stuff that you think controls us Thai girls, and shove it up your fat, hairy, pizza-filled foreign ass! As a Thai girl, I cannot be bought. I have pride; I have dignity; I have self-respect. And my country has traditions; traditions that will not be changed by a bunch of low-life classless good-for-nothing foreigners who can't even find a girlfriend in their own country. Thank you for visiting my country. We hope you enjoy the sun, the sea, the temples, and the food. But keep your hands off our bodies. We are not for sale. Have a nice day!"
That is also what one in five of my students said in their writing; not exactly in those words, mind you. Unfortunately, many more of them didn't say that. Many more of them can be bought. Many more Thais are for sale.
What makes Arpaporn so special is the fact that she is not only battling the foreign influence in her society, she is also fighting the current and prevailing opinion of her fellow Thais. Those fellow Thais who think it's perfectly normal to take money from foreigners so that their family will be happy and Thailand will be strong. I get the feeling that fighting her fellow Thais will prove much harder for Arpapron than telling foreign men where they can stick their money.
I'm not sure how others out there will take the writing of my students here. But I take it as a warning; a stark and dire warning to beware of the
contemporary Thai woman; to be leery of the modern Filipina. They are not modern at all. They are opportunists. They may be packaged and marketed to the western man as conservatives and traditionalists, but they are not. They are progressives; extreme liberal progressives who deign to take from the rich and give to the poor. Income redistribution is their game, and I'm not playing. I have learned that the best winning strategy is not to play the game.
What frightens me in all this is the sense of entitlement that many young Thais have today. It's as if they honestly feel that they are entitled to the white man's money. It they can't get it the old fashioned way, through hard work, integrity, and honesty, then they will simply take it from others and feel not the slightest bit of guilt or remorse.
"Foreign man good for Thailand because he is rich and Thai family will have big house, new car, nice clothes..."
This is the leitmotif occurring over and over again in many of their writings. And from 15, 16, and 17 year olds! Where are these ideas coming from? Thai and Filipino parents who tell their children the new fairy tale of the old, fat, rich foreigner who will one day "come to our little village, sweep you off your feet, take you to his big castle in (Insert western country here) where you will live happily ever after?" I do admit that this may sound more pleasing than "Little Red Riding Hood" or "The Three Little Pigs" but it is squashing and annihilating any incentive and motivation young Thais and Filipinos may have once had to roll up their sleeves and make something of their own lives.
It's incredible to me that many of the foreign English teachers themselves don't even see this; or maybe they don't want to see this. I have sat in teacher's rooms, in restaurants, and in bars with foreign teachers who constantly complain about the lack of motivation in their students. But not once have any of these teachers looked inside themselves or at the ex-pat community to see how they may be contributing to this problem. Most of these teachers have not developed the introspection that is required to sufficiently and fully understand the problem such as the lack of motivation in today's Thai youth. And why should today's Thai youth become motivated and self-reliant when hundreds of thousands of people all across Thailand are now being supported by ignorant and gullible foreigners. It has become the new normal, the new gold standard.
One of the things I find fascinating with much of the ex-pat community here in Thailand is their almost blind insistence on changing Thai culture and society. In fact, many of them have been convinced, (or they have convinced themselves), that this task will not only be easy, but enjoyable. As my new hero Arpaporn said in her writing,
"They [foreign men] look [at] Thai women [as] poor and stupid."
Indeed, many of these cultural imperialists look at the Thai people themselves as poor, lazy, and stupid and their culture and traditions as backwards. (I hope I'm not revealing too many secrets here.) So it's natural for many of them to think that you can change poor, lazy, and stupid people quite easily, right? Ha!
For imperialism to succeed, you must control the population sufficiently enough to have them do your dirty work. Many of these foreign teachers, who themselves are barely above the $1,000.00 a month mark in relation to the baht, can't even get their wives or girlfriends to spend this 30,000 baht a month wisely. So much for control and having someone else do your dirty work.
In fact, in Thailand it is just the opposite. What is the opposite of imperialism? The world of politics has a term that best describes what has been happening to foreigners vis-à-vis their Thai wives and in-laws. This term is called "co-opt" and many of these foreigners, whether they realize it or not, have been co-opted. To be co-opted you must first have had at least a modicum of freedom and individual sovereignty prior to coming to Thailand. Once this freedom and individual sovereignty has been relinquished, through marriage and the redistribution of any money and assets he once had, congratulations! You have now been co-opted. You are now a full-fledged member of the Thai establishment. Now, if a foreign man doesn't mind being co-opted, fine. But if he was blindsided and never saw it coming, or didn't do his research, or listen to all of the horror stories out there and was still co-opted, then who's the dummy now, huh? Who is the poor and stupid one now?
Thais make a big deal of never having been conquered by a white western power. It's in their history books that are fed to children here day after day. They know how to co-opt people, and most foreigners never seem to learn that--- until it's too late.
"I think it's good because Thai woman have a new experience and foreign man give me money for Thai girlfriend." (A 17 year old grade 11 male)
You see, co-opted.
That's why girls like Arpaporn are so special. Thai girls like Arpaporn should be celebrated as the new and modern Southeast Asian woman of the 21st century: A leader who could take her country back and lead her into the future, with hard work, pride, dignity, and integrity; not with the fat white man's money. She ends her writing with these words:
"I want to love a Thai man and take care [of] him. I don't want money for happiness."
I would like to think that foreign men (and Thai men as well) would like this kind of courage and bravery. I would like to think that foreign men (and Thai men as well) would respect a strong and honorable woman such as Arpaporn; a woman who knows that a better life lies within her and within every Thai, and not in the pockets of a foreign man. But I'm not sure if that's true.
I'm willing to bet that the two groups of people who will criticize me the most for this blog are the men (both foreign and Thai) who are benefiting in one way or another, and Thai and Filipino women who are also financially benefiting from the generosity, naivety, gullibility, and stupidity of their western benefactors.
This kind of criticism to me does not matter. What matters much more is that we support young women like Arpaporn in their quest for independence and becoming their own person. After all, isn't that what we foreign teachers claim we want to our students? That they think for themselves, come to their own decisions, and make up their own minds?
I would love to see Arpaporn, and others like her all across Southeast Asia, stand up to the unsavory ex-pat population and take their dignity back. It takes some very special people to stand up to this; very special people to restore the honor, dignity, innocence, and self-respect that Thai women once had. I would be pleased and privileged to stand with such people. And I am pleased, privileged, and honored to have Arpaporn, and a few others like her, in my class. Sometimes the teacher becomes the student and I thank my students for this important lesson.