Vaccination Tourism

It does not take much observation to notice that the world is still frozen in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Walking into any business, you will see people socially distancing, and wearing masks to protect themselves from getting this deadly disease. There has been some hope lately with the release of the vaccines this year, and some countries are starting to see things opening up again because a good amount of their populations have been getting the vaccine. There are a lot of countries though where people are fighting to get the vaccines any way that they can.

Thailand is a great example of this. The first waves of this deadly disease did not affect the country much, and though there had to be some adjustments made to life, most people continued to live their lives the way they normally did except they would wearing that protective piece of cloth over their face when out in public. The government knew that relief would eventually come around, and they were playing a game to be able to make the most out of the opportunity that they could when it came around. They waited a little too long though and while other countries were vaccinating their citizens, they were still sitting on their hands.

This is when the second wave came around and really hit Thailand hard. Something that many of the people there took for granted became a really big problem that they were not prepared to handle. As the second lockdown started to stretch on and people watched as other countries started to open up, the desire to get vaccinated grew in this country, and people would do anything if they could get a shot.

Some people started turning to one of the places that had been ignored over the last couple of years, the airports. If their country could not do for them what needed to happen, they would turn their vision to other countries. They would take a plane ride to the United States to get vaccinated there.

It is not as easy as it sounds though. The airports are deserted right now for a reason. I just recently flew out of Bangkok and I got to see this first hand. The main reason for this can be seen at the departure board. A quick glance of what is going out of the country indicates that there are only ten international flights a day. With the numbers surging in Bangkok, and other countries struggling to vaccinate their populations, Thailand has become a red spot that makes it hard to prove that you are safe to fly to another country. In order for us to fly out, we had to obtain doctor’s notes saying that we were Covid free for the last 72 hours. We had to then go through the usual Thai bureaucracy before we could get to the gate. It took us almost three hours to do this in a place where there were no crowds.

The options of where to go were minimal as well. We ended up having to fly through Doha, Qatar and taking 26 hours in the air to finally arrive in Portland, Oregon. It was a very long day, and a very long time to wear that mask without it getting too annoying. But we made it, and there were a lot of the same conversations that were overheard along the way. The United States has become a new tourist destination for a reason that not many would suspect. They have an overabundance of vaccines and not enough people are snatching up the opportunity to get one. If somebody wants to get vaccinated, the United States is where to do it.

I don’t know if a country wants to build its tourism reputation on this kind of focus, but it is interesting to see how the focus of America has shifted so quickly. During the height of this pandemic, America was the last place that anybody wanted to go to, and now because of its excess of medicine, it is the place where everybody wants to come to. There is some danger to this. If these people keep showing up, even with the strict restrictions applied to international flying, there is still a possibility that some people who have been inflected with slip through and start the pandemic up again in the United States. But at the same time, a lot of money from around the world could give a booster shot that the economy needs right now, getting the U.S. back to the place it was four years earlier. But if we let the pandemic rampage again then we will just go right back to closing down the economy again to keep people safe. It is one of those conundrums that would take a month to take apart.

The bottom line comes to the fact that the more people that gets vaccinated around this world, the faster we gain control over this virus. So if people all across the world believe that they should continue to come to America to get vaccinated, I guess I am for it. It will allow me to get back to one of the things that I love to do the most, travel the world, and experience various cultures. So I say if nobody in this country wants to get vaccinated, and you have the opportunity to get out here to get the shot because they country you live in has not gotten its act together yet, then come on out. We will be happy to see you, and get the world back to normal.

Short Termer’s Disease in Times of Covid

Everybody has been waiting for a change to happen. We all have looking forward to going back to a time where everything was not wrapped up in uncertainty and caution. The times have been awful to live through, nobody doubts that, but at the same time, it has exposed the flaws of many organizations, whether that is the smallest of businesses to the most powerful nations on Earth. It allowed us to ponder whether the place we found ourselves in were the places that were the best for us, or were there other opportunities that would fit us better; thereby, making a big change in our lives the only thing that gave us the feeling that we were in control of our own destiny.

This is what I did. I took the frustration that I had about being stuck in a country far away from home, and the frustration I was having as I started to see the place I work for start to crumble. I was given a new opportunity in a new country with a new school with a strong reputation. I didn’t have to take it, but it felt like a way of escaping the current situation, and getting away from the home I had found myself trapped in during the Covid lock down. When I first took the opportunity, it felt great. Life was exciting again, and I just couldn’t wait to make the change.

But then things got worse in Thailand. Covid became a problem for the first time in the country, and it meant that we were once again regulated to spending our time at home. I was once again teaching online, and I felt like I was no longer the teacher that I knew I could be. Add on to this the frustration of trying to organize a move, preparing for the next school year, and the worst case of homesickness I have ever experienced, then it makes it harder every day to try to push on, and do the job I need to do.

I now know what it feels like to be a senior. They have always driven me crazy at the end of their senior year. They no longer care about doing a good job because they have already received their acceptance to their university, and it feels like the place that they are in is doing nothing more than begging more and more from them while they feel like they do not owe the school anything. They just want to move on, and the school keeps on reminding them that they have to finish their obligations first.

It makes every email I get, and every request I am asked make me want to rant about all of the flaws that I have noticed about the place. It is not fair to the place, but I am having a hard time caring about the school anymore. This is not the first school that I have left, but for some reason, this time it feels completely different. I don’t have that bittersweet feeling of leaving this school behind. That excitement of going out to a new experience, but at the same time, the sadness of leaving the place behind, is just not there.

I put a lot the blame for this feeling on Covid. For the last couple of months, I have done all of my teaching from a tiny box on a Zoom screen. The distance that is created between my students and me is larger than that of our locations all over Thailand. I have watched as one by one each of them have disconnected from the school and their learning to the point where only a couple of them are even trying to engage in class anymore. It annoys me, but at the same time, I get it. What do they have invested in the school that would allow them to remain connected? They are left with just going through the motions with some talking head in the hopes that the pain they are enduring with every passing day will eventually end.

And that is where I am too. It does not help that my school called the school year a couple of weeks ago, and my fellow colleagues rearranged their flights to get out of Thailand and back to their home countries as fast as they could. I have watched as one after another has made their way to the airport with their Covid test in hand and that anticipation of getting back home in their hearts. It has made staying behind that much harder. I need to do it though because there are still a couple of odds and ends that I need to take care of. I keep checking off the boxes and yearning for the day that I can take my cab ride out to the airport, but it is still a couple of weeks away.

Until then I have to sit in my home and look out the same window I have looked out way too many time over the past couple of months and count down the moments until I can leave. It is the true feeling of short timer’s disease, and I can’t wait until it is over.

Independence Day – Siam Summer

I have traveled all around the world, but most of the time, I am in the United States for Independence Day. It is a great time where family and friends gather together to eat and enjoy the freedom of being away from work for a day. If it falls on a long weekend this feeling is amplified because they know that they will not have to work the next day as well. It usually wraps up late in the evening with the echo of fireworks still ringing in the night sky. For the most part, it is a great celebration.

But there have been a few years where I have not been in the United States and the day does not take on the same meaning. Sometimes, a bar or restaurant will try to capitalize on the fact that there will be Americans abroad, and cater to them in order to make a little extra money, but I have found that this is usually not the case. The rest of the world forgets about the day, as they should.

During my first time I found myself out of the country on this day, I tried to make the most out of it, and celebrate my independence, but I looked like an arrogant fool who was not being considerate of the country I was in. Later, I acknowledged what the day was, but spent it looking at the smaller things and events that presented itself during the day. It wasn’t the American way of celebrating, but it still made for a nice day.

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of vitriol spewing from the social media sites from many of my friends back home in the United States, most of it centered around the loss of freedom and how one party or the other party is responsible for the situation concerning Covid-19 in that part of the world. I do understand that it is an election year, but it is still weird to see how this has been turned into a political argument. I have been forced to spend the summer in Thailand because of this pandemic and I have been reading how other countries have taken extreme measures to ensure the safety and health of their citizens. It does require some sacrifice on everybody’s part and because of their efforts, Thai people and many other places in the world have started to enjoy their freedoms once again. Yes, there are simple measures that people take such as social distancing and wearing masks, but in the greater picture, these are small steps that we can all take to make sure everybody is safe. Because of this, Thailand has not reported the transmission of a case in over thirty days and the only cases that have come into the country have come from Thai people moving back into the country. Due to these measures and the facts that have come out, I feel safe, secure and most importantly on Independence Day, free.

It comes to the statement that I have heard uttered by many Americans over the years, “Freedom isn’t free.” That statement is usually uttered when talking about the armed forces of the United States, and the sacrifice they have made for the nation. But the key to that statement is sacrifice. In order to have freedom, people need to work for it. They need to prove that they have earned it. Sometimes this means making painful sacrifices to ensure not only their freedom, but the freedoms of everybody within their society. This is a time for that sacrifice, but it is not coming from people serving in the armed forces this time. Guns and bombs will not be able to solve this problem no matter how much people want it to. It will only be solved by taking the precautions that will eradicate the Covid-19 virus until a vaccine can be discovered. The sacrifices that are being asked are not absurd. Wearing a face mask and respecting other people’s space in not hard to do. When that happens, then freedom can return. The restriction will be lifted because the safety of the people can be guaranteed.

I am enjoying my freedoms right now, but I would love to go home some day and see the mountains of Colorado and visit my family and friends. I know it might sound a little selfish, but I hope the people of America can make that sacrifice so I can have this happen. But I also hope that they can make that sacrifice for their freedom, so they can enjoy it again without this terrible disease hanging over them and controlling their freedom, so what they are enjoying is not really freedom.

America in the 21st Century

Rats are ruling over our government,
Claiming that they do it for this nation.
Preachers tell me that I need to repent,
Sticking out their hands for a donation.
Law man patrols in a bullet proof vest,
Keeping order through the use of his gun.
The honest man cannot get any rest
Because of the lawyer’s exploitation.
Business man lives in his tower of greed,
Looking down at mankind’s desperation.
Injured sit outside hospitals in need,
Being denied saving medication.
I look forward in anticipation
To leave behind all of this corruption.

A Free Market Look at Education

I am going into my thirteenth year of being a teacher, and as the demand grows for teachers grow in the United States, I am amazed that the government does not try to make this job more appealing for people to pursue as a career. I know that many people think that teachers should not receive much benefits because they do not work as hard as other professions do. I could sit here and tell you that this is not true, but those people will not listen to me as they have already made up their minds that teachers are overpaid people that don’t work much to begin with. And if that is your perception of education then you are correct, teachers should not get the raises that they are begging for right now. So I have decided to look at this from an economic, free market perspective as this might be a better way of reaching those individuals who believe that we should not be taking care of our teachers better.

In order to make this argument, I first need to establish that education is important for the future of the country. Any community needs an educated workforce, and the more educated a community is, the more powerful its economy becomes. If there are a bunch of people that don’t know how to count money, communicate properly, or work the ever evolving complicate advances in technology. An educated workforce is the foundation for any thriving economy. Just look at South Korea. Here is a country that has no real natural resources, and because of their unique relationship with connecting nations, they are basically an island, and need to import most of the food and resources that they need in order to thrive. They do not have anything of significance to offer the world, yet they have the eleventh largest economy. How is this possible? They looked to the one resource that they had, and utilized it to their advantage, their people. They educated these people and then sent them out into the world in order to help their economy grow, and they created one of the biggest turnarounds ever with an economy, going from one of the world’s worst in the 1950s to where they are today. They did this through an educated workforce.

On the other hand, if a government wants to repress a people, the first thing they do is to take away their education. Hitler did this by burning all books he did not agree with. Pol Pot did this by taking the doctors, professors, and lawyer out to the Killing Fields and getting rid of them. Mao did this by promoting the reading of his red book and only that book. I don’t think that anybody would say that these societies weren’t repressed and the people under the control of these ruthless dictators suffered because of the lack of education. These leaders have gone down in history as some of the greatest killers to have ever walked the earth, and nobody within their societies were able to stop them from these atrocities because they did not have the mental capabilities to bring about the change needed. They were not given the education that was needed to start the revolution because revolutions are not started from gun but from ideas, and it takes an educated individual to create the idea that will inspire the masses into action.

I do not think that there would be many people that would argue that a basic education is needed for each individual, and because of that the future of our nation is dependent on the skills of the teachers that provide this education for our youth. There are numerous studies that show that this is true. In fact, it is not technology that produces great results in the classroom, but it is the strength of the teacher and the size of the class that does it. If you have a child and you want to make sure that he or she gets a good education, you want a skilled teacher leading a class of no more than twenty people, so that skilled teacher can give each student the attention that they need. In order to do this, money needs to be put into education to make sure that this happens.

None of these arguments are new to the person who does not wish to raise their taxes to make this happen. They still think that teachers are given enough money to perform their jobs, and they do not see why more money should be given to them to have them stick around. Well, there is one little trade secret that many of these people do not realize that is already have profound effects on the educational system in the United States, and it has to do with the principle of the free market.

To best understand this principle, think of it from the perspective of a teacher. They want to paid fair wages for the job that they are performing. They want a strong health insurance so they can take care of any medical conditions that might arise through their stressful job. They want to make sure that they are taken care of financially after they have retired from their jobs. They want a place with a diverse population that can add to the educational experience with the unique perspectives that the students bring into the classroom. If they could get this job with great working conditions, as well as somebody paying for their housing, and the added perk of being able to travel to exotic locations during their breaks, what would stop a teacher from doing this? Some people would have to ask about these teachers’ children and the opportunities afforded to them from such a place. Well, if those teachers had children, they would be provided with one of the best educations in the world because they would be able to go to that teacher’s school for free.

I know that there are many people out there that do not believe that a situation like this exists because if it did, many highly qualified teachers would be rushing to get one of these jobs. But I am here to tell you that these jobs do exist, and there are so many of them, that schools are desperate to get the best teachers to fill in those vacancies. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. Because of years of painting educators as greedy individuals who spend most of their time sitting around doing nothing more than babysitting children, many people have stopped going into this profession. Because of being vilified, many teachers that are still in the profession are looking to find a place where they can get the respect that they deserve. If the current practices are allowed to continue, it will only be a matter of time before there is a  serious brain drain in the United States concerning this field. The best in the field will take their skills overseas, leaving schools to scramble to find anybody to fill in the spots that they need to fill. There is already a struggle to fill in science, math, and special education positions because there are already other professions that pay better and are looking for these people to fill these positions. For those that truly love the passion of teaching and being able to connect with the future generations, there is now another option made available to them. And there is a huge demand for English teachers overseas because this is the language that most of these schools teach in and the students want to graduate with a strong grasp of its intricacies.

The best education will eventually come from schools that have been exported overseas. Colleges and universities will look to these same schools to find the students that they believe are worthy enough to attend their institutions, and the people that attend will take their education back to the counties that they come from. Some might claim that this is a slippery slope argument, and there is no way that we can predict the future in the manner, but the truth of the matter is that this is already happening, and as the other countries of the world continue to get smarter, Americans continue to discredit their own educational system, and not fund it to the level that it needs to be funded at. I have seen countries like Korea, Japan, and Cambodia take an active approach to education, and they have seen the benefits of this push already within their economies. America needs to take the same approach to their schools if they wish to compete in the future. Education is not about having a certain part of the population given the privilege of being smarter so they can gains the advantages of a capitalistic society; it is about making sure that we are all smart enough to maintain what needs to happen to make that society sustainable. We should not be sacrifice this aspect of our society because of the financial burden that it puts on us because it is a vital part of what makes America great.

It is the government that eventually decides how they fund their school, but it is up to the people to make sure that the government is doing the will of the people. So during this election cycle, pay close attention to the politicians that are looking to take over the positions of leadership and make sure that you choose wisely. The future of America should not be compromised because a few people do not find a value in it. We should all find a value in it because it affects us all.