Alternative Winter Break

This email arrived in my mailbox from my friend Nick who is attending USC architecture school:

I am skipping my Christmas festivities this year and packing my bags and heading out to Khao Lak, Thailand to help with the tsunami efforts from last years tragedy. 17 other students and 2 advisors are spending 2 weeks constructing buildings, repairing boats, and restoring the environment. Even though we have had much needed sponsorships from many different on campus organizations, traveling to Thailand in the winter is very costly with high airfare cost and trnsportation and supplies needed to make this trip a success.

Coincidently, Jacqueline from “Asian Voices” group is going as well. This would make her first trip out of the US ever. Funny that she called me just a week before the email from Nick arrived!

Nick is an American-born Thai who, like many other Thai kids born out of homeland (I’m sure Jen/ThaiGerl can sympathize), can understand Thai perfectly but still speaks with a little bit of American accent. He is the lone Thai in this USC Alternative Winter Break group!

“Haha. Thanks for the offer but I won’t be drinking over there,” said Nick after I told him I’d have my brother take him out to enjoy the night life. Apparently they all have to sign a no drugs/alcohol clause. Besides, “I’d be the only Thai there. Everyone relies on ME!”

And also lucky for Nick, my father is heading up the Tsunami Memorial Design Competition. So he would be in Khao Lak a lot, and perhaps get to take the kids to see the site once, not to mention looking in on Nick while he’s there. (See if you can spot my dear ol’ dad on their website. You’ll understand the whole Varavarns-look-all-alike thing.)

How is this whole story worthy of Thai-Blogs? I’m not so sure. What I’m sure is that I’m trying to help the kids get enough funding to accomplish what they’re setting out to do. And I think this is as good of a place to do it.

You see, this time of year through February is tourism peak season for Thailand. The weather is California mild summer–although you’d see the locals whipping out their sweaters at 75F–and not a drop of rain. All tourism related pricings go up. That includes plane tickets to get there and to travel around the country.

At this point, I think Nick said that the group may be taking the bus to the south instead of flying. Not that they’d mind. But really, they don’t think they have enough to cover airfare south.

So, please help out these idealic youngsters of my alma mater. They’re traveling across the world to aid people in need and to search for some cultural and life experiences. If you have the funding to donate, I have Nick’s donation form in PDF for you. Just shoot me an email. Or if you’d rather deal with USC Volunteer Center directly, please send an email to

Kob khun ka! 🙂 And *ahem* Go Trojans!

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