One of my favorite parts of my job in Thailand was planning parties for the International College students. When Halloween came around we were given a budget to provide a true American Halloween experience for about 200 students. So of course we rented out a club complete with Halloween décor, and unlimited food and whiskey, we know how to do it right!
Some had seen scary movies or heard of Halloween in the media but for most it w as a completely new concept, (picture telling Burmese scholarship students to dress up as scary as possible to come dance the night away in a whiskey induced scare a thon, it was classic). Don’t worry, the Thai female students had seen plenty of US college party pics, and were sure to show up looking as slutty as possible with some vampire/zombie facial makeup on. Amazing.
Halloween was such a success that I thought I would let some of the students have a larger role in planning the Thanksgiving party. I gave them a budget for a traditional dinner and told them to arrange a band to play. True to Thai style, they made a cutesy rainbow Happy Thanksgiving sign complete with a cartoon turkey. Dinner was delicious, and besides them accidently ordering potato salad, instead of mashed potatoes, everything was going perfect.
And then it happened……….. Whitney Houston’s “I’m every woman” came on over the loud speaker and out struts a cross dressing, lip singer, in a red prom dress, heals and all.
Shocked, I looked around for the faculty’s response, was I in trouble, did I blow it? Surely this was not the traditional Thanksgiving they had in mind!
Then everyone stood up, clapping and cheering for Miss Whitney. I couldn’t believe it. One of my Dutch students leaned over and asked, “Is this what you do on American Thanksgiving?” I lost it; laughing so hard I nearly fell out of my seat.
Although my students missed the mark on a traditional Thanksgiving, everyone was laughing and enjoying the party because true to their nature, the Thais know how to make everything fun. They probably never will know the story of the Pilgrims and Native Americans, or get to say what they were thankful for around the table, but that night, I was reminded about thanks. I am so thankful for my experience in Thailand and the many lessons on laughter, fun, and happiness.