This May I traveled to the Thai-Burma border with a group of eight other university students for a month-long service learning trip. The trip was amazing, and I learned so much about myself, my new friends, and the wonderful Burmese people. In this blog I will first talk about parental control, and then some important things I learned on my trip.
When I first told my parents about my decision to go, they were vehemently opposed and would not even discuss it with me.
Developing countries often get a bad rap, so I decided to give my parents a little bit of time to think about it. Telling them long beforehand worked very much in my favor, as they realized this was not a spur of the moment mistake I was going to make but something I was deeply passionate about. Whether your passion is travelling or acting or long boarding or anything in between that your parents may disapprove of or think is a waste of time, it may be a good idea to give them time to understand that you are serious about it.
The second step was opening the lines of communication.
This can be the trickiest part. Discussions can often get heated as you and your parents may not be able to see eye to eye. One thing I would recommend is to hear your parents out; they probably have many valid points, and if you listen to them, they may feel heard, and be more willing to listen to you. Finally, realize that you will probably have to make some compromises. For me, my parents agreed to support my trip, but I was to contact them every couple of nights and make sure I had reliable emergency contacts inside of Thailand that they could also reach. It may be hard for parents to realize their kids are growing up and are more independent, but sometimes you just have to take it slow to give parents a chance to let go.
Having the support of my parents was so important, as it allowed me to be stress-free and really immerse myself in this new place. I learned so very much from this trip, and I would encourage everyone who has the chance to do something like this. First of all, I learned an incredible amount about the country of Burma and the Burmese refugees living in Thailand. Hearing their stories gives me so much inspiration to follow my passions, as they have chosen to do so under such extreme oppression.
I also learned about kindness and generosity.
Many of the people we visited had very little, but always invited us strangers into their houses and offered us anything they could. Such openness and kindness is a beautiful thing, and to see people with so little give so much, even if it’s just a smile, shows me the power of being positive and kind!
Also, immersing yourself in another culture can be so important in removing stereotypes and discrimination. If you’ve ever judged someone, try getting to know them or what it is that bothered you about that person. Educating yourself may be the best thing you can do! Finally, living for a month without many of the luxuries we enjoy back home made me realize how excessive and materialistic we can be. Upon returning home, I’ve tried to live a healthier and happier life. I rarely wear make-up now in order to regain confidence in myself, and I’ve taken up yoga.
Although these things may not interest you, I would encourage any teen to follow their passions and get involved in what they believe in!
Thanks for reading, and if you ever need to talk about controlling parents, following your heart or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact ConnecTeen.