A goal I had going into the research was to see the evolution of morlum and whether or not it is being retained in its traditional form. There was many opinions on this as the younger generations through they were preserving this art form while the older generation did not. The academics argued that while the branches of traditional morlum might not survive 50 -100 years from now – traditional morlum itself could probably stay alive. I am glad that I chose this project because it gave me a chance to learn about the music I always heard growing up at Lao get togethers and parties. I was glad to know about this very bold art form from my parent’s culture. My final project was in the form of a photo essay and I presented a gallery to my class and professors which was cool seeing as I never thought I would get to do something like that.
The program and my time in Thailand seemed to have gone by in a blink of an eye. I could remember the night I left my home – in the dark winter evening – almost in some ways dreading my leave, as I didn’t know if I could hand another semester abroad seeing as I had missed home so badly the last few weeks in South Africa.
But it went by just like that – in a serious flash –coming to Thailand was an experience I am very grateful for – I came to learn Thai – but ended up learning a lot about myself and the world. Sounds cheesy but its true. I am glad that I got to experience a part of Thailand that many tourists do not. While I am someone who favors the more populated and popular city – I found myself having this enchanting relationship with Khon Kaen – as it is in this phase of becoming something new and to be there during its transformation made me feel fortunate.
My time in Khon Kaen would have not been what it was without the friends I made while I was abroad, my ajaans, and last but not least – my roommate Donut . By the end of my program and Thailand I had completed 10 homestays in both South Africa and Thailand – that number itself baffles me. Before South Africa and even afterwards- I was scared of the homestays and being hosted by families in foreign countries – it takes a lot of trust for a family to take foreign stranger in – and I was just sometimes so baffled at that thought. If you know me personally – I am someone who gets nervous all the time in social situations and generally am apprehensive of people. The homestays taught me the beauty of how humans can be kind and how these kind humans are in abundance. If I take anything away from my study abroad experience even 100 years from now – it is this mere fact that human beings that are kind do exist.
My travels ended with a three 3 “family vacation” in my parent’s home country of Laos – where my mother actually met up with me after my program ended. I visited the capital , Vientiene, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Salavin and of course my parents home province of Savannahket. Savannahkhet has a shortened name of “Savan” among locals – “Savan” also means heaven – staying here was in some ways heaven – life is rather simple – or for me it was simple – seeing as my cousins were so excited to see me they cooked and served me all my meals. I got to travel where I wanted to go and see what I wanted to see. My vacation was pretty relaxing after having a busy semester in Thailand. I was glad to see my family who I have not seen in 11 years. The vacation made me realize what my parents left at the age of 20 when they escaped communist Laos and what they actually sacrificed – the entity of a Lao family. It was quite sad and emotional for me to realize this – knowing that if I were closer to my family in Laos – I might not actually have the life I have now.
Traveling makes you think a lot – and for someone who has been traveling for the last 8 months – and already thinks a lot – traveling can take a toll on you that is sometimes brutal but also beautiful. I can’t describe my feelings into words as I depart. I feel extremely blessed and lucky – that a small town girl from the sticks who is also broke – got chance of a lifetime to see study abroad for a year. This was my dream – and my dream came true. I thank the heavens, my parents, my scholarship donors, professors, and friends for all of their support in my journey. I would not have been able to do these without you all. So thank you so so much for encouraging me and inspiring me.