Home Again

by Jay Milbrandt (JD/MBA ’08),

I’ve arrived in Thailand. Wow, just stepping onto the Thai Airways jet was like this rush of good feelings from my last trip. The colors, the scents, and hearing Thai spoken. Once again, Thai Airways lives up to its mantra of “Smooth as Silk.” Not even a bump the entire flight. The 17 hour flight went like a short commute.

Arriving in Chiang Mai was fantastic. I was greeted by a number of children that frequent the drop-in center, including my dear friend Jupee. Jupee is 16 and giving birth to her first child in November. She’s so tiny and she looks like she’s about 12. It’s really a shock to comprehend she will be having a child.

Above all, returning to Chiang Mai felt like coming home–a home away from home, at least.

After that, I was off to the Garden of Hope Drop-in-Center–a facility that was in the planning/fundraising stages during my last summer. I put together a film project that specifically helped raise money for this project. I was blown away! The building was incredible! Amazing to finally see that the project has come to fruition. It’s four-stories and right downtown in the redlight district–a great location and perfect building. Many classrooms and facilities. A number of kids were already there just hanging out, so it seems like this is a really worthwhile endeavor.

Finally, it was time to go find Ami. My friend Faa arranged a meeting time and I had not told Ami I was coming. We drove up, I stepped out and said her name. She froze, got a huge smile, then ran and hid her face in Faa’s shirt! It’s was probably 10 minutes before she would talk to me. She kept telling Faa that it wasn’t me. After being shy for awhile, she finally admitted it was actually me and then she was back to her old self again. We met at a playground and so she ran around showing me everything. She was way more talkative than a year ago and her conversation skills had definitely improved. Faa told me the difference was the education she was getting, so it was great to see the investment is paying. We only had about 30 minutes before I had to hit the road. Thankfully, we’ll be able to spend more time together in a couple days.

I just wanted to leave a short note this evening. Jet lag is definitely setting in and I’m off to bed.

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