Category Archives: General/Thoughts

From “Teacher Ken” Back To “Sir Ken”: Months of Whirlwind, Engagement, No Break

It feels like just yesterday when I posted the following status on Facebook, after having carefully made an abrupt yet timely decision to relocate back to Malaysia:

And this was despite the fact that my school director in Thailand was willing to sign me for two more years and I was enjoying my life in Thailand to death.

I said my decision was a timely one because right after my announcement on Facebook, a former boss from the previous university college I was lecturing and another friend, who is the Head of Programme of another institute, respectively approached me for an academic position, which I couldn’t have been more thankful for.

However, I can’t have everything all at once. I had to ultimately choose one of the offers, just like I had to choose between living a comfortable and carefree life in Thailand and giving up my life there for a better career prospect and for the sake of my future with my Thai fiancé.

Read: She’s Thai; I’m Malaysian. I Don’t Know What Future Holds for Us, but I Try to Live in the Moment, Every Moment.

Back in February, while I was in the midst of preparing final exam questions, compiling student marks, and wrapping up my teaching at the busiest time ever —  it was towards the end of the school term, I remember having to make time to go to the Chumphon Immigration for an application of the re-entry permit before travelling to Penang for an interview.

After knowing for sure that my then girlfriend (now fiancé) and I were going to be separated and forced into a long-distance relationship until we get married next year, it was not without days of emotional struggle and grief. Being blessed with a rather matured mindset however, my fiancé was able to quickly recover from the moments of negativity.

“Go,” She said to me, “I want you to go — not because I don’t love you or appreciate this relationship, but because I know you’re doing this for your future, for our future.”

“This won’t be forever,” she added, referring to the long-distance relationship that we were about to commit to. That gave me a sense of much-needed assurance.

So it was around the same time when I made another big decision of my life — to get engaged with her. Earlier on, I had informed my parents about my decision, which they had given their blessing.

My contract with my school in Thailand ended on March 15, and my new employment in Malaysia would commence in April, so that left me with little time to pack, settle things, and relocate back to Malaysia.

There was no break, there was little rest. On top of all these hurdles, it was basically me and the clock — I was competing with time to complete my lecture slides and compile teaching materials for a total of four subjects I was going to handle.

And the best part was that moving back from Thailand to Malaysia, I had to make sure I could find a unit to stay within a short period before the new semester at my current college started. I’m thankful I was able to view a unit within the very hour I had arrived in Penang, which I immediately moved in.

Fast forward to today — it’s been four months. Four damn months of whirlwind, little rest, and drastic change in my life.

Two years ago this time, I went from being a Malaysian lecturer to a school teacher in Thailand. Two years later, within four months I’ve quickly adjusted my role yet again, is time from being “Teacher Ken” back to “Sir Ken”.

Last 36 Days: On “Why Is He Even Teaching Rural Kids in Thailand?”

While many friends have been very supportive of whatever that I’m doing, there is bound to be a few friends or even relatives who would go like, “Why is he teaching rural kids in Thailand when he could have continued lecturing in a Malaysian university? What is he even thinking?” I’m usually lazy to even address such questions, but now I will. First fo all, everyone has different needs and aspirations. Travelling, learning and understanding different cultures, as well as gaining new experiences are among my NEEDS as an individual, as someone who is keen to tap into the area of cultural studies for my PhD. As much as I think money is important, unfortunately we can’t have money and everything else all at the same time. When you’re after money, you probably won’t have time to pursue other things; similarly, when you have all the time in the world to follow your passion, to explore places, to experience life in another country, you probably have no time to make money. Unless you’re born rich, like Paris Hilton. Which, of course, you’re not, so you need to stop putting the “$” symbol into every equation you stumble upon and judging me as if teaching the rural kids in Thailand for two years will make me reductive, just because what I’m doing does not fit into your typical social norm. Secondly, during these two years in Thailand, I’ve saved enough money and also paid my own bills – even my housing loan in Malaysia. I’ve supported myself by not only working as a teacher, but also selling food. So when I leave Thailand next month, I won’t be leaving empty-handed. I will be leaving Thailand with skills that I didn’t have a chance to pick up when I was working as a lecturer in Malaysia. I won’t be leaving poor because I’m richer in knowledge and skills now compared to when I just arrived here some two years ago. Thirdly, I know when enough is enough. I know when to stop and move on. After spending two wonderful years in Thailand, I know it’s time to go back to pursue my PhD and teach in the higher education arena as I prepare to marry my fiancée. Having said that, these two years in Thailand are a blessing to me; they’re like a dream I don’t want to wake up from. This entry is written in the form of an “aside.” To follow my asides, click here.