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Don't Rush Me


It's a small world afterall . . . no, really


Thai girl makes Don cry.



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November 06, 2013 - Not too many women have made me cry within hours of meeting them. I must confess, however, before I left for the evening, the water works were opened up and tears openly dripped down my cheeks.

Yes, sweet little Toey had me all choked up. Literally, I couldn't speak. It was as if my vocal cords were numbed. All the came out of my mouth were soft, guttural sandpapery sounds.

I don't know what Toey, foreign exchange student from Thailand, puts in her soup, but it wasn't like any soup I have tasted before (and I've eaten a lot of soup). It wasn't just spicy, after I gulped down the first spoonful, I was 100 percent not prepared for the chemical reaction that took place in my esophagus. It was good and I finished that bowl and had another, but it just made me cryNot too many women have made me cry within hours of meeting them. I must confess, however, before I left for the evening, the water works were opened up and tears openly dripped down my cheeks.

Yes, sweet little Toey had me all choked up. Literally, I couldn't speak. It was as if my vocal cords were numbed. All that came out of my mouth were soft, guttural sandpapery sounds.

I don't know what Toey, foreign exchange student from Thailand, puts in her soup, but it wasn't like any soup I have tasted before (and I've eaten a lot of soup). It wasn't just spicy, after I gulped down the first spoonful, I was 100 percent not prepared for the chemical reaction that took place in my esophagus. It was good and I finished that bowl and had another, but it just made me cry.

It hurt so good.

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Toey whipping up something I cannot pronounce. (click for larger version)
Toey (like one of the wiggly things at the end of your foot) made myself, her host family and a couple of Clarkston Rotarians a traditional Thai dinner the other week. Her real name is Paruttana Oncharoen and I won't even try to pronounce that; Toey is her nickname given to her by an aunt and that is good enough for me.

She's in Clarkston these days as part of Rotary International's Youth Exchange program. And she was in the home of Clarkston Rotarians Jeff and Mary Lichty to make me dinner so I would write a column about the program..

Now, before you go all "Jimmy Olsen" on me in regards to a reporter's ethical behavior . . . yes, I know. I probably broke several precepts of the journalist canon revolving around that sticky little word called "ethics" but I had only hinted that maybe I would do a story about Toey from Thailand, who just so happens to live in a house that's above a restaurant run by her family in Thailand, if she made me dinner.

I love Thai food as much as Toey loves Mexican food. She loves the spice and so do I, and I just thought . . . if there was a chance . . . that . . . well . . . she made the dinner damnit and I ate it.

Sue me.

Since first becoming a lowly scribe, I've enjoyed meeting foreign exchange students. I like to learn about where they come from, but more importantly I like to hear what they think of Americans and our society.

Last week, The Lake Orion Review did a story on students from across the globe studying at Lake Orion High School. Their sentiments actually mirrored Toey's here in Clarkston: the people are nice; there's a lot of space here; and education is a vacation stateside. I don't think the last sentiment should be taken as an insult, just that we do things differently.

Between making dinner and eating, Toey talked about her home, her friends and what she'd love to do when she grows up.

"I would like to direct movies," the 16-year-old said.

So, while attending Clarkston High School, she's experiencing as many drama, theatre and video editing classes as she can.

Toey's host family, Don and Donna Blower from Springfield Township, over the years have hosted five foreign exchange students, as well as had their daugher Shayla (CHS Class of 2001) visit Japan. Their family (which includes 14-year-old Jared) has also hosted kids from Japan, Columbia and France.

So, what about Thailand? I did a quick online check and found Thailand is similar to Michigan in that both places are peninsulas. Thailand is 198,000 square miles, Michigan is just under 97,000 square miles. Thailand has a population around 64 million; Michigan, 9.8 million. While the United States is a constitutionally limited republic, Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy. Their king, Rama IX, is the longest serving head of state in the world. He's reigned since 1946.

We get tired of every president after about 3 years, how do you think we'd handle the same leader for the better part of 70 years!

Programs like the Rotary Foreign Exchange have helped shrink the world. And, to make it even smaller . . . both Don and Donna graduated from Clarkston High School and both have siblings I graduated with.

As Disney proclaims, it's a small world after all!.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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