I am the first child and the only daughter of my parents. My father works as a detective police officer and my mother is a housewife, meaning she does not work outside and only takes care of us. My father’s parents are in Pathumthani and my mother’s are in Saraburi. When I was little, I remember that my mother, my brother and myself were living in my dad’s house in Pathumthani for some time and my dad would come to see us on weekends. My brother and I went to school there for a year or so then we all moved to Bangkok when the construction of police accommodation in Bangkok was complete.
There was never a time that my mother would leave me with any grandparents or cousins alone without her. When we moved to Bangkok, there were only the four of us then living happily together in a so-called single family. So, I always feel that my parents and my brother is my only family and no one else mattered. We had some cousins to stay with us from time to time when I was little. Some were attending school or university in Bangkok, then they left. When I became a teenager, I didn’t see anyone coming to live with us anymore.
I trust that my parents have been doing a great job of taking care of me and my brother. My father, as the only income earner in the family, always makes sure that we are not in short of money or anything required for our daily life while my mother was also helping by making some food for sale. I felt so sorry seeing her doing that. We were living on the fifth floor of the building without any elevator and she had to go up and down several times a day to carry all the stuff needed for the selling. When I grew up to the age of 13 or so, I asked her to stop as her health was getting bad. I told myself I will be good at school and must get a good job so that my mother doesn’t have to work hard. Though she was not making lots of money from the food business because she was never a money-hunger, bloody business oriented person, I know that she was so proud of the money she could make of her own. She always tells me that even one baht doesn’t come out from a tree.I still remember the happy times when we got home in the evening and counted the money or profits we made each day.
As a senior sergeant, my father should not be earning that much yet I never feel that we suffered financially . He is the one who always stressed the importance of education and attending school. As a kid, I never understood how important it could be then but he has been such a good role model and I felt the need to follow suit. He sent me and my brother to a Catholic private school in the neighborhood for 6 years. The tuition fees was only 650 THB per semester but there were expenses for books, meals and other actiivities throughout the school year. It was quite expensive then. Unlike other police families, we never had to depend on the pawn shop or cooperative loans when new school years approached. So, that means my father must be making lots of saving, planning and had such a wonderful financial management. I remember having new clothes for every new semester and everything I would ever need for school.
After the primary education, I participated in the entrance examination for one of the most famous demonstration schools just like my father wanted me to but I did not get admitted. Yet I followed a neighbor who was also then my close friend to a second round exam at Puttajakwittaya School in Sam Yan area where I got admitted. There were so many candidates and only 250 were admitted. I had no idea about that public school yet I didn’t feel like continuing at that Catholic school for secondary education any more. It was also the uniform thing. I wanted to wear the navy collar shirt and a bow for school and I could not be doing so if I continued at Holy Redeemer School. So I attended Puttajakwittaya School for three years where my father got me on his motorbike in the morning and picked me up in the evening.
It was a discovery for me in Puttajakwittaya School. Nothing was like in the Catholic school. Classmates were much more wild. They spoke impolite language and most of them were from Chinese family with long last name. There were boys doing drugs and girls getting expelled due to teen pregnancy. Yet it was a good school for me. I had wonderful English teachers and was grouped with hardworking students. I was often nominated to represent the school in many academic competition of my level including contest for sonnet writing on Soonthornpu Day. I was also candidate for the English Club’s President. In the ninth grade, I won the folk song contest with my band name ‘Sugar Sour’ which I was one of the lead vocals. Thanks to my traditional Thai outlook, I was selected to carry the big candle for the Buddhist Lent celebration, wearing the beautiful Thai costume and make-up for the first time. I was not doing so bad in this school, I guess. It was here that I had some ‘suitors’, guys who thought I was cute and wanted to date me. I did not have the feeling for the guy at all as he was not good looking and I did not know much about such feeling. Friends said he likes me so much , had my picture at the side of his bed. He gave me so many things for Valentines’ Day and yet I never liked him. I rarely spoke to him actually until I finished Matayom three or Grade 9 then I quitted the school to pursue senior high school elsewhere.
After three years there, I participated in the entrance exam for the famous Triam Udom Suksa which were every secondary student’s dream, it seemed. And I failed again. I attended the second round exam at Santirajwittayalai School where my brother was attending since Grade 7 and I was admitted. The school is a bit far away and I had to take the crowded bus to get there. The school is quite big. There were 12 classes of Grade 10 and the French-English class was known to be the one filled with bitchy girls and not so smart students. I was always a hard working student and knew that study was always my first priority so I did well from the first semester there. I got three certificates for outstanding academic performances in French, English and even maths. My GPA was as much as 3.63 out of 4.00.
Again, I was selected to join the parade on Buddhist Lent day wearing Thai costume and elected PR representative of my class. I was also the emcee for the school’s library fair where there was a beauty contest. Boy, I liked that, being in front of the crowd and holding the microphone. At Santiraj, I had some big crushes. The first one was the worst as I seemed to be obsessed with his cool look so much and just like many high school crushes, he did not seem to know that I existed. The only difference is that I had loud friends and finally he knew that I liked him. Just like, nothing more and everyone in the school knew me for I was already popular and I realized that I was too smart for such a loser.
Then there was a senior guy named Thawatchai Asawasuwankij. I can’t believe I still remember his name. He made lots of advances and seemed to like me well. Then, my friend told me he was engaged already so without asking him, I never spoke to him again. Before that, he sent flowers, made some song requests for me, wrote me letters and sweet words in card which God knows where they are now. Anyway, I ended up dating another guy whose look never impressed me to begin with. He was a volleyball player and a drummajor. We dated for a while before I went to Canada then I broke up with him. I spent only two years and a bit at Santiraj so I did not have many close friends there. When I got back from Canada, they were already one year ahead in college and we did not seem to speak the same language anymore.
Studywise, my English has always been outstanding among classmates probably thanks to the strong foundation of English I have had from the Holy Redeemer School (Pramahataisuksa School as they call it today). I started to study English since I was 7 while some of my friends only started at Grade 5. Believe it or not, my first English teacher is my dad. During those weekends that he went to see us in Pathumthani, he taught us the A to Z, then the days and months in English. I remember seeing his small English-Thai dictionary and his notebook where he wrote down his name and my mother’s name in English. He is such a smart person and I admire him so much. He was really good in school too as his name was carved on the board at the school in Pathumthani where my brother and I attended for a short period but he finished his primary education there.
My father believes in education and paying attention in class. He always asked my brother and myself where we were sitting in the classroom and whether we have asked any question to our teacher that day. He believes in discussion. It is such a smart way of teaching me. While my mother was preparing dinner, my father would ask to see my schoolbag and all my notebooks to see my handwriting and what I have learned each day, which made me really nervous then. I think I have inherited some courage and guts from my dad who never seems to be afraid of asking. Now that I had my master’s degree and his English is not that good, he still asks me questions about studying English or some pronunciation which makes me feel that he is such a wonderful role model of asking questions and such a smart person. He never had such an ego that I am his daughter and that I must be less than him. He was never a dictator who always thinks that he is right. I know that discussion is always available and only reasons can beat him.
For weekends or summer, my father always sent me and my brother to MAC grammar school to study English and Math. Grammar school was not as popular as it is today and it was not seen as a requirement for students then. I remember that the fees for one course was 500 THB for 2 hours of studying every Saturday for the whole semester. It was probably because I was not attending first-class schools, so he wanted to make sure that I was not less than those attending them. I admitted that I have learned so much from grammar school as well. Teachers came up with tips and tricks for what they taught and classes were full of fun. So, I was kind of hardworking student.
When I went to Santirajwittayalai, he also enrolled me for English conversation class at the American University Alumni or AUA. I attended the classes there every dat at 5 pm to 6 pm from Level 1 to 15. It took 2 years to get the English Proficiency Certificate and my dad picked me up at 6 pm at AUA everyday. I was always the youngest in the class and got to speak the most. It was such a wonderful learning experience where I got to meet so many older people from many walks of life. It was such the perfect timing for me.
In Santirajwittayalai high school , I also had an inspiring English teacher named Jiraporn Kunsorn. She was also my advisor and my English teachers for three years there. I remember how she never spoke Thai in class and asked every student to make one sentence from a picture in every of her class so that everyone gets to speak English. She was also the AFS coordinator and pushed me to join the intercultural exchange programme.
I remember that the application fees was 100 THB, which was quite a lot in 1989 and I had to go as far as Suksanaree School in Thonburi area to take the written exam with many friends.There were around 5000 students competing nationwide and I was one of the first 200 who passed the written exam, one of the two in Santirajwittayalai. My father was really excited about this as he was seeing the opportunity that I could go abroad. After the interview, the exam result was sent to my house and my father opened it even before me. He told me I must go and he considered it an honour. Believe it or not, I really did not want to go then because I had a boyfriend, I want to get into college and I did not want to be one year behind my peers but there was nothing I could do. My father had to pay 92000 THB for the organisation for arrangements of everything and insisted that I must go
Today, I don’t know how to thank my dad enough about his smart and superb decision. It was that year in Canada that made me so special and sharpened me in everyway. My one year in Canada improved a great deal my French and English language skills and empowered in me the courage and self-confidence. I came back to Thailand being much more mature than girls at my age. Instead of going back to school to finish my Matayom 6 properly, I asked that the school provide my transcript with the academic records I brought along from Quebec, Canada as I believed the courses were not much different than what I could have done here. In September, I went to see the vacancy announcement board at AUA and applied for a temporary job on the phone. The location seemed to be close to my house and seeing the qualifications of the person they were looking for, I thought there was nothing I lacked. They wanted me to go for an interview the following day and I got myself the first job. It was the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities that I worked for and earned as much as 600 THB per day or 12000 THB per month in 1991. How incredible for a girl of 18 years old with M.6 diploma!!! (to be continued)