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A Great Mistake To Train Thais In Western Ways

  • Written by Jurgen
  • December 21st, 2005
  • 5 min read


It is not necessarily a good idea to train a Thai lady in western ways of living and customs. It could actually harm the woman concerned and make her completely unfit to live in Thai society.

We are living in Chiang Rai and have a foster daughter living with us since she was 16 years old. Her mother is a Thai government officer in charge of the money spend for road building and other public expenditure in the province. So her mother is practically never at home but always at some meetings. Her father was an army officer who died in one of the Myanmar border clashes. To give the girl a family home we had her living with us for the last 6 and half years. She was brought up in a complete westernized fashion, and the warning bells should have been starting to ring during her high school years. She is highly intelligent with an IQ of 156 and has a very inquisitive mind. This started to get her in trouble with the teachers at the high school, she never took no for an answer and wanted to know why things are working and the background of any statements by her teachers. As a rule Thai teachers don’t like this attitude and get very upset if they are questioned about something. Maybe they don’t know themselves and only teach by the books. There standard reply used to be “well if you listen you don’t have to ask questions”. This did not go down well with her at all. She wants to know about anything so that she can make up her own mind. If something new came up and she could not get any information at school she either asked me or helped herself on the internet, like a dog not letting go of the bone. She also questioned her teachers why the history taught in Thai schools is different from the history taught in other countries. This really put the fox between the chickens. They did not like her but have to give her B+ overall as she passed any and all examinations.

Enough of that, she also had problems to find friends in her age group, she thought they are all to shallow and only talk about fashion and their new boyfriends. The boys she did not like as they were to stupid and only talked about motorbikes if she wanted to talk about science or other issues they would not even know what she were talking about. Don’t believe that she is a nerd, as a matter of fact she is now one of the most beautiful women you can find in the Kingdom, and at least that’s what all farang visitors are saying. She is very big for a Thai lady 178 cm tall, slim and has a natural beauty with very white skin.

About four years ago she entered the Mae Fah Luang university as an English major, again she had the same problems with Thai teachers, however as they have a lot of foreign teachers as well, the situation was not to bad at all. The Thai lecturers hated her for questioning the subjects, the foreign lecturers actually liked that the students asked for clarification. So the situation was bearable. As her spoken English is extremely good the university always asked her to welcome foreign visitors and used her as a translator, this started already during her first semester, the last time she had to welcome the Japanese Crown Prince and act as his translator during his recent visit. She finished now with a B.A. degree and will continue her study in Perth. At the moment she is in Australia, funnily enough she fits extremely well into the Australian scene and nobody believes that she just recently came into the country, most Australians believe that she was born here. Her attitude and behavior is completely westernized. This did not happen in Thailand; she worked there during semester holidays and never could hold a job for a long time. If the managers gave a wrong order or made mistakes she told them so and corrected them. Well this can not be done in LOS, it involves loss of face for the powers to be and does not go down very well.

The problem now is, what we can do with her, she never will fit into Thai society, she would not take it at all that her possible future husband is her boss, she can not accept anybody if she can not talk about science, world politics etc. So I do blame myself that I spoiled her chance for living in her own country. The only way out would be that she lives and works, after getting her PHD, in a western society, she could never mix with her own people, as I was in Perth a few weeks ago we mixed with a lot of Thai students which study for their PHD with Thai government grants. Again she could not mix with them; she actually questioned me to make sure that all off them already had master degrees. She said their English was very poor; they had no interests in anything and only learned by rote, no real interests at all, only to get the coveted Australian PHD and then go back to Thailand as fast as possible to make big money. But with the few western students we did meet and their western lecturers she went on extremely well, they talked about anything at all, global warming, US politics, new development in quantum physics etc. So I do believe I created a monster.

Maybe some of the readers could help me with some advice. I really believe that I spoiled the young woman; she can not fit anymore into Thailand, which is after all her home country. So it might not be too advisable to raise a Thai up to western standards. It actually might be a disservice for the person involved. I really would like some feedback about this issue.