Day 281 - Sujaree (2nd person I approached)
October 08, 2014 - I spotted Sujaree sitting alone, reading a book and drinking tea. There was also a yoga mat leaning against her backpack. I figured she was killing time before going to a yoga class at the place near where she was sitting. I told her what I was doing and asked if she would chat with me. She smiled and said yes, but I sensed there was a slight hesitation in her willingness. She told me it was a bad hair day, but was fine to let me take her picture. My powers of deduction were right; Sujaree was waiting to go to a yoga class, but it wasn’t for another forty-five minutes. She had scheduled in time to sit and read a book before yoga.
“I was born in Bangkok, Thailand. I have one younger sister, she’s four years younger than I am. It’s a part of the Thai culture to help with the younger ones, lead by example type of thing. I did things like hold her and play with her, and help my mother. While we're not close psychically because she’s Thailand, we are close as sisters,” she said.
In Thailand, children learn English in school.
“I always say it’s similar to here in Canada where you learn French in school, in Thailand you learn English. I learned more about the rules of the English language, than the actual language itself. In part because that’s what our teachers knew,” said Sujaree. She has no traceable accent in her voice whatsoever.
When she was ten years old, Sujaree came to British Columbia (BC) for a vacation with her family.
“We have relatives who live in Kelowna and in Vernon. I loved the winter; the snow, and the scenery, it was amazing. My aunt asked if I would ever consider coming here (to BC) to study, and I said yes, I would. That was like the idea getting planted, “ she said.
“Then when I was twelve, I moved to Kelowna to go to school. It wasn’t purely my decision, it was an ongoing discussion with my parents. I wasn’t like ‘I’m going to Canada and that’s it’ or anything. I stayed with my relatives and went to school,” she said.
“I remember my first day at school, it was Grade seven, the first day of middle school. It was like being the new kid, but that didn’t bother me. I’m pretty outgoing and it was easy to make friends. Within a couple of days I felt settled in. There wasn’t any difficulty in adjusting,” she told me. Sujaree worked hard and did well in school.
“I was fairly focussed on my school work. I liked Biology AP (Advanced Placement) in high school. That’s where you have a more advanced course and depending on how you do, the credits can count towards a university credit. So, for students who were smart and planning ahead, they could save money in university by doing the AP class. Then they'd be able to skip that portion in university,” she said.
We shared a couple of school biology class stories, mine was about dissecting rats in school.
“I had two lab partners and we were dissecting a baby pig in class. I think everyone was surprised that I was into it. My lab partner and I finished with extra time, and I asked the teacher if we could dissect the head and look at the brain. I kind of took the lead in that. It was fascinating,” she said. Sujaree also told me she had a friend in medical school that was working with cadavers.
“I asked if she thought it would be possible for me to observe the work they did in the lab. But I wasn’t a student there so it wasn’t allowed.”
“My father asked me when I finished high-school if I was going to be a researcher in a science lab for my career. I knew I didn’t want that. I like this too much,” she said, using her hand indicating the conversation happening between us.
“I enjoy people. I went to the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus in Kelowna, and studied Economics. I liked social sciences and people, so I thought I’d try that for a year and see what I thought. I liked it and after the first year, I transferred to the Vancouver (UBC) campus. I lived on campus while I was going to school, so it was like being in a small city while there. Everything is so self-contained there on campus,” said Sujaree. She graduated this past May, with a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Economics, and a minor in Commerce.
“It felt so good to graduate. I’ve been in school a long time,” she said, sipping her tea.
“I usually go home to Thailand every year, for the summer, but I stayed here this year and worked. It was good. I worked at the YMCA with kids all summer," she said with a big smile.
“I know there’s more schooling in my future and that I’m not done. I’m just not sure exactly what I'm going to do next. I’d like to work for a while and figure that out. The big picture goal is to one day own my own business. I’m not sure in what yet, but that’s the goal. I’m thinking of possibly getting my Bachelor’s degree in Education. That would only be another year at school. Maybe go into teaching. I’m not sure. I do know I just want to find something that I can be passionate about. Not just something that makes someone rich, but that makes a difference. I want to make a contribution somehow.” #notastranger