Thais have very long names, so they go by shortened everyday nicknames. Up to this point we'd hosted Japanese students, but our YFU rep suggested Gift because her circumstances were so similar to f2tE—alternative schooling, an interest in art. Ours chose ‘Gift’ as the US version, which certainly made her stocking very easy to design, since the play on her name was the obvious choice for the iconography:
I'm presuming she told me orange was her favorite color, since I always ask (and yellows, oranges and red tend to be favorites of Asians) and I can't imagine randomly putting orange in the design otherwise. I also attempted to render her name both in the roman and Thai alphabets, though not with the sophistication of the ambigram stocking. It's also in a somewhat loose style, though again, not to the level of our previous student's.
I consider Gift a particular gift to me, from YFU. I have enjoyed all of our overseas daughters, but Gift's personality was similar to mine, especially as a teenager: she retreated to our truly horrid, cold basement so she could sleep alone (always wanted my own room). She is introverted, and didn't talk much to us.  She liked to draw and make art, particularly of anime/manga style characters. We talked some about films, particularly Tangled, which she especially liked because of the lanterns (Thais float candles in little leaf boats, with a coin, around October or November. —We did this in the local river the year she was here. We have a rubber ducky race, which I suppose has the same sense of community, but I like the Thai version much better;)
Her interpretation of that film was interesting because Thais have a king—royalty—and a much more respectful attitude towards the monarchy culturally . The king and queen were of course entitled to the magic flower, because it was their land, their country. —I simply didn't think of it that way. These unintended flashes of insight into other cultures are what make exchange experiences so rewarding.
Thais have a reputation of being very friendly and smiling a lot. That may well be true, but I have always been suspicious of such characterizations, which seemed rather cruel to me, because quiet, or boisterous, or even just plain cranky people are pretty evenly distributed throughout the world, and why should one's personality be a reflection of an accident of geography?
With, I assume, the usual minority of skeptics, of course
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