Cool to Be Different

“By playing [Thai] music, people recognize me as Thai.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions
  • How does the speaker feel about his status as “international?” How has his time in America influenced the way he sees himself as a student and citizen?
  • What effect has music had on the speaker’s education and what he garners from it?
  • How does the speaker truly find community?
Interpretive Questions
  • How does the speaker’s categorization of himself as “foreign” differ from other prevailing interpretations of the term?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for Cool to Be Different

I grew up in Thailand. Bangkok, Thailand. And I went to Catholic school in Thailand. And I like music. I’ve been playing music since middle school. I started with voice and then I started playing guitar. I was 16 when I took a test, it’s like an English grammar test, and I got the highest score. So I was the first place, and I got a full ride to come to America for a year. So I came to Clay High School in South Bend, Indiana and studied there for a year. I took mostly music classes because I loved music so much. And then if I wanted to stay in America, I had to pay for it myself, but I did that because I loved America so much. So the first year I was in America, I was a junior in high school. So I finished that and came back for a second year, my senior of high school in South Bend, Indiana. And then my host parents, who were taking care of me at that time, they liked me so they were asking me if I wanted to go to college here. I said that it would be nice, and they recommended Valpo to me because they were both Valpo graduates. They were both Music Ed majors, and then that’s how I got to Valpo.

I’m foreign so it’s easier for me to get foreign friends. So those people were the first group of people that I got to know. And then, I know a lot more people from being in Chorale too because music, kinda, gets us together. I’m the international in Chorale, international student in Chorale. And like, I felt like everyone is different than me. I think it’s cool to be different than other people because I can bring in different things. When I joined the fraternity, everyone was very nice to me, and now I can just talk to them about anything. They’re like brothers. It’s good to be a part of something on campus.

I really like when I perform Phi Mu Alpha probationary membership recital because I was playing Thai music on classical guitar, and I think that was a way I could show people I have something different than them. And it’s cool to let them see how difference can be good. By playing music, I think that it makes me stand out more as a Thai because the music that I play is different, because it’s Thai music. That makes people recognize me as Thai, and the same time people take me into their community too.