Monday, August 3, 2015
Definition of the general term for a farang, Visit Http://www.into-asia.com/thai_language/farang.php.
Before coming to Thailand, I had always been a part of the racial majority. I have lived in America my entire life, and grown up where most people around me look just like me. There have always been others who are pale, others who are blonde, and others who have light colored eyes. Even when traveling abroad, there have still been many others with similar physical characteristics. In Austria, Germany, Italy, and even the Czech Republic, I have seen many other people who look similar to me.
In America, I am very privileged because of my appearance. I grew up in an upper-middle class area where a large majority of the students I went to school with were white. I now understand just how little I know what it is like to be a racial minority. Since coming to college and becoming a Resident Assistant, I have met many other people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds who grew up very differently than I did. I have learned what white privilege is, and I have heard the stories of many people who have been positively and negatively affected by it. I can empathize with my friends and the stories I hear about in the media, but I will never really know what it is like to be them. For further information on Privilege Watch this Video: Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ.
Here in Thailand, I have gotten a slight taste of what it is like to be in the minority. I have not been oppressed because of my appearance here; I honestly feel as safe as I do at home, if not safer. However, my appearance has received much more attention than it has in America.
This first really stuck out to me during our first week here. There are a number of food carts outside our apartments, and we quickly found a few that we frequented. One morning, I saw a new cart open that I wanted to check out. As I approached the cart, the group of nearly fifteen Thai natives simultaneously turned and looked at me with very puzzled looks on their faces. Worried that I was not welcome, I promptly turned around and went to the nearby 7-11 to grab breakfast. When I brought this instance up to Dr. Register, she informed me that they might have not seen many people that look like me before.
Moments like these continued to happen. We had seen a few other white people around the apartments and university, but not many. It became very clear that farang in Thailand stick out like a sore thumb. Even when ordering at food carts that I visit all the time, I am often ignored if there are other Thais around. Once at a crepe stand on campus, I had been in line for 10 minutes, while Thais walked right up and were served immediately. I had to work to gain the attention of the workers once the Thais had been served before I could order. This same scenario continues to happen nearly every time I order at a food stand.
The other day some friends and I went to a coffee shop to get some homework done. I sat in a different room so I could focus on my work. A Thai mother and her two children later sat across the room from me, and every time I looked up from my computer, at least one of them was staring at me. This continued for about an hour until I was ready to leave.
Moments like these are a completely new experience for me. They have caused me to think a lot about my life of privilege back in America. These experiences give me just the slightest glimpse into the discrimination and attention many of my friends and peers at KU have to deal with every day based on their apperance. I will never be able to fully understand what they go through, but this is honestly the closest thing to it that I have ever experienced. I have learned so much here in Thailand about music therapy, Thai culture, Buddhism, and much more, but I have also gained a new perspective on life in America that I never expected.
This is a picture of the music therapy students, both farang and Thai. The Americans are the outsiders right now, but the Thai students are coming to America soon to switch roles. We are excited to see them again for the American Music Therapy Association National Conference in Kansas City this November.