I was very impressed by this insightful review of my book. This feedback means a great deal to me and I want to share it with all of you.
Book Review – Nine Years in Bangkok: Lessons Learned by Sharon Bazant
I thoroughly have enjoyed reading this book. It deserves several readings as new things come to the fore each time. Nine Years in Bangkok: Lessons Learned is a true roller coaster of life! It is a heartfelt story encompassing so much – hope, major destruction, resilience, renewal and ultimately self -discovery captured in the human spirit.
The prelude sets the tone – the things we endure from the ones we should be able to rely on the most – family. How often do we experience sadness and toxic relationships with family? How do we resolve this? Do we even know or recognize what’s happening? Sharon talks about her family throughout the book and they feature heavily in her ultimate forgiveness story. Getting to that path of forgiveness is a real lesson for us all.
Sharon comes to Thailand after working in an International School in Pakistan. She discovers that “Asia” has all sorts of different cultural twists and turns, and that working in Pakistan is not the same in Thailand, specifically Bangkok. “It was the end of our innocence, our naivete”.
In Bangkok, she is made Head of the Drama Department at a prominent International School and executes her job with zest, enthusiasm and vigour. Little does she realize that petty jealousies, lies, and outright bullying will erode her confidence and pleasure to teach at the school. Despite a backdrop of deceit and disloyalty, Sharon manages to rise above it and her students are victorious! The personal pain and the tragedy of discovering what is happening takes its toll on her emotionally and physically. The anguish she describes is what we have all felt and so often suppress. The big lesson here is one of speaking the truth and listening to your own “gut feelings”. At the end of each chapter, Sharon summarizes the lessons learned. We can all take these lessons as a way of self –checking when in a new workplace environment and a new country.
We learn a great deal about living in a new country, understanding unfamiliar cultures and how misunderstanding, even with the best of intentions, can create major problems. Some incidents are really funny but others make you cringe. We have all been there! I loved the insights into Thai history and culture, particularly about the Buddhist way of life. Sharon’s descriptors transport you to her reality. And even small positives can really buoy you along in a sea of cruelty!
Some of these positives come in the form of amazing friendships, especially women friends. Sharon’s best moments and the changes she describes, come through advice or conversations she has with women. She makes us value our own friends and realize that they can be chosen, not like families! Real friends will be honest, help and stand by you. A valuable lesson.
Sharon talks candidly about her own personal issues, weight, and other health problems. We realize, we need to heed the warning signs she describes too. She is honest about her almost marriage breakdown but is determined that she can rebuild it. How many of us simply run away because it’s all too hard? She finds the strength and motivation through meditation and a retreat a friend has recommended. This is the beginning of major life changes.
I loved this book. I have bought several copies as gifts for Christmas. Thank you, Sharon, for having the courage to share so that we may all benefit. Your comments about the “reverse culture shock” upon returning to Canada are an eye-opener!
Adelaide, South Australia