Sunday, August 15, 2010

From Saigon to Bangkok to Phang Na

Immediately after the Fulbright Hayes GPA trip, I flew to Bangkok, Thailand.  

If you care to know, I’ve been trying to run some nonprofit operations on a no string budget let alone a shoe string budget.  Basically, there is no budget, my friends, nothing, nada, zilch.  After Hurricane Katrina, BP oil spills, fires in Russia, floods in China, earthquakes everywhere, there isn’t a whole lot of money for 2004 Tsunami related projects.  My buddy from the high school days, Dr. Sunya Ratjatawan, was initially my point man in the Khao Lak, Phang Na tsunami zone, but now he is located in Bangkok at Assumption University’s Graduate School of Psychology (GSP).  We are working together with Assumption U to find solutions for outstanding problems in the Khao Lak, Phang Na region despite the disappearance of funding.  Part of the logic is that I feel that a person must be engaged with the world, not engaged in just making money, or getting a new car, or finding that new job.  I also find it to be more rewarding to know that you have done something good for a change.  It is my rebellion against the pervasive American materialism that now defines globalization. 

Immediately after getting off the airplane from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, we got into a car and rolled into a 10 hour drive down to Ban Nam Khem and Khao Lak.  More of the reflections later.  It appears that there are still things to be addressed, but what I have found is that nothing is ever really finished in the realm of human endeavors.  All nonprofits are limited.  We can only do so much.  Everyone thinks that being a humanitarian is an easy job, but in fact, it is probably one of the most aggravating things to do.  There are always blocks and barriers to overcome.  For every two steps forward, it seems that you step back three.  If you are famous, you might be able to raise the funds and do some good work.  Most people are not celebrities, so our work is a little tougher.      

Part of the reason for going to Bangkok and Thailand was to isolate myself in the cultural vibe of South East Asia.  I decided I needed a soft landing versus a hard landing into the grind of American life.  Also a part of it is to focus and write down my thoughts in a more concise and focused manner.  I don’t have cable, or easy access to the Internet.  So, I’ve been editing the blog and reading all of the materials I have gathered, while also prepping to give a gratis lecture of nonprofits, grant writing and the pitfalls of trying to be the savior of the planet on August 19, 2010 at for the GSP of Assumption U.  Yes, I do many things for free.  We all realize that we have a purpose to our existence, or at least we think we have that thing defined.  I am rather unsure, but I know what I am good at.  I can make things work even if they are dysfunctional.  I believe in doing action not talking about doing an action.  So, why do I need to clarify my thoughts?  What you think you know isn’t what you really know.  What you thought you knew, probably isn’t true.  What you want to know is often something that would require a lifetime to understand.