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some recent articles Aug. 6th, 2005 @ 10:34 pm

Two great articles that just appeared in my local newspaper http://www.coastreporter.net

Rotary: the Thai that binds 

By Cathie Roy/Staff Writer 

For one young man recently returned from Thailand and one young woman returning to Thailand from Canada, the Rotary student exchange program has been a life-altering experience.

Kai Nestman, who turned 19 this year, began his experience in spring 2004 when he was chosen to represent the Sechelt Rotary Club in the youth exchange. After a busy spring and summer that included his high school graduation, Nestman left on the trip of a lifetime on Aug. 4 last year.

While he was in Thailand, Nestman was the guest of three host families.

The first was a single mother, a teacher with three daughters and a grandmother at home. Ironically, the eldest of the three girls left for an exchange of her own to New York shortly after Nestman’s arrival.

This family was the poorest of the three hosts. The mother earned about 7,000 baht, the equivalent of about $250 Canadian, monthly.

The second host family was Thai-Chinese, a common ethnic combination in Thailand.

“They were very frugal but very rich. The mother worked at home and the dad was an insurance agent,” Nestman said. The family had three sons, ages eight, 10 and 12. “The father was never home,” Nestman added.

This was the only family the Sunshine Coast man travelled with while in Thailand.

“We went to Bangkok for Chinese New Year,” Nestman said.

That holiday is celebrated much the same way the world over. The highlight is gifts of money for young people.

Nestman’s third family was a “very affluent, rich, Thai-Chinese family.” And although he doesn’t say so, it’s apparent from the warmth in his voice this was his favourite home away from home.

“They ran the biggest foreign restaurant in the town (in the extreme north of the country). They spent all their time running the restaurant and they also catered,” Nestman explained.

But these parents with their family of two boys and four girls all under the age of eight were also the most outgoing. “They would do anything for you — anything you want,” he said.

Nestman singled out the pride of the Thai people in their country, region and towns as the biggest difference between the Asian country and Canada.

“There is a sense of nationalism, pride for their king and queen. They are the founders of democracy in Thailand. The Thai people idolize them,” he noted.

And the other characteristic of the people he appreciated was their loyalty. “If you have a good Thai friend they’ll do anything for you,” he said.

Nestman had several tours of the country, including the area devastated by the tsunami. He was proud to spend hours at a Rotary building site where 250 low-cost housing units were being built.

Along with fellow Rotary exchange students, Nestman poured cement and painted steel pillars. And while he said it was difficult to determine what was tsunami devastation and what was demolition, the sight of the countryside had a huge impact on him.

One of the pictures he saw was of a navy boat pushed inland two kilometres. It was the watch boat for the young Thai royal killed in the tsunami.

After his eye-opening year, Nestman had planned to go to the University of Victoria, but that plan is on hold while he campaigns for federal Liberal candidate Blair Wilson on the Sunshine Coast.

While Nestman was away, the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast hosted a student from Thailand Am Arayacheeppreecha. Am, who turned 18 this past spring, chuckles at the Canadian reaction to her surname with its 17 letters.

She has enjoyed the freedom young people in Canada have compared to her home country. She marvels at the differences in the school systems between the two countries.

At her home in Bangkok, Am attends school from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. And after school she goes to tutors for even more schooling. The young woman leaves her home at 6:30 each morning and is seldom back before 12 hours are up. Thai schools are strict with students. “Here you can wear what you want. There it is ponytail, no earrings, no jewellery. Hair has no [dyed] colour and not too long,” she explained.

And the Thai children don’t have the same kind of weekend ours do. “On Saturday I go to learn math in the morning and English in the afternoon,” Am said. And Sunday is more of the same.

Am has studied English since Grade 1 in her native country.

The youngest of four, her older sister is a flight attendant with Japan Airlines. Her youngest brother is in university and the other works in a food-testing lab.

Her long-range goals include studying Mandarin and going to China for an exchange. As with many exchange students, she will repeat her Grade 12 next year.

And while Am has missed her mother fiercely, she loves many things about Canada.

“I want to bring Tim Hortons,” she says with a grin. Her other favourites include our many parties for special occasions and snow.

Her main dislike is English grammar. “Write it is not good” is her succinct take on the subject.

For both young people, memories made will last a lifetime.

As Nestman says, “It’s totally worth it.”



Inspiration on many levels 

By Cathie Roy/Staff Writer 

About once a week in this job, I meet someone who inspires me.
Sometimes the person is a senior, like this year’s Golden Girl Edna Husby, who makes a huge difference in a community by working quietly behind the scenes.

Sometimes the individual is a man like Larry Westlake, so consumed with bringing history to life he devotes huge blocks of time to the project. And sometimes the inspiration comes from a young person like Kai Nestman, who is just beginning to make his mark on the world.

What strikes me about all these people is their humility.

In Husby’s case, she pooh-poohs her lifetime of volunteer work with St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary and the Kiwanis Care Home as things anyone would do. And her amazement at being chosen Golden Girl is anything but feigned. She’s a treat to talk to. With her never-ending curiosity about the world around her and positive slant to life, she brings a golden touch to many people’s lives.

And the work of Westlake tells a similar story. After learning about the handliner boats folks used mainly up and down Georgia Strait from the turn of the century to WWII, Westlake decided to resurrect the boat. Because no actual plans of the boats existed anywhere, Westlake’s first challenge was to make some. Working from one of the few boats left (a craft made by pioneer Hubert Evans), Westlake managed to construct a replica of historically correct materials. And although he credits much of the success of the project to others — the many builders who helped him construct the boat, the businesses and organizations that supplied the funds to complete the project and Bee Jackson of the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives for her support — arguably without the fire and determination of Westlake, the boat would never have floated.

While Nestman hasn’t lived enough years to have earned a 40-year pin for volunteering or to have achieved one of his lifelong dreams, he’s surely on his way.

He shares an important trait with the other two: a desire to leave the world a better place for his having been a part of it. Nestman has just returned from a year-long Rotary exchange visit to Thailand. While there he had the opportunity to experience a culture radically different from ours.

The respect Nestman feels for the Thai people resonates loudly in his conversations.

He marvels at the pride the Thais feel for their country. Each Monday, every working Thai shows up for their job in a spotless military-inspired uniform. And each Friday every Thai wears a bright yellow T-shirt adorned with a crest of the area the person lives in. Although Nestman doesn’t say so, it’s hard not to draw a comparison to Canada. It’s hard to imagine (maple leafs on Canada Day aside) Canadians flaunting their pride of country on their clothing.

Nestman is amazed more young people don’t avail themselves of the opportunity to spend a year abroad as he did. Unlike the United States, where there are about 300 applicants for every spot the Rotary organization has to offer, less than a dozen Canadian youth apply for each spot available. Nestman sees his $4,000 investment in the exchange as priceless.

He says the experience opened him to other cultures and other people. He sees himself as more easygoing now. And although he says he’s less intense, that’s before he talks about his new job working for the Liberal contestant in the next federal election.

Practice saying Prime Minister Nestman. Someday, I predict, we’ll be saying it a lot.



Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: news

Jul. 11th, 2005 @ 01:25 am

Well it's 1:30am and I just finished packing all of my stuff and organizing myself to leave Thailand.  I have two huge suitcases full of everything along with a backpack, my suit, Rotary Blazer, and Laptop as carry-ons.  Today at 8:30am I go with my papa and his parents to some town close to Bangkok for one night and then we meet up with some teachers from my school who will be coming down to say goodbye, as well as my councillor, and that would be my last night in Thailand.

It was definitely a different time today when I rushed around saying goodbye to all of my friends and host families.

So, I guess this will be my last LJ before I hit the sky and take a plane across the Pacific back home to Canada.  It will be different returning after a year abroad, but just another experience, and one I'm looking foreword too.

See you all soon!

I can't stop thinking of you exchangees!  We still live on and I love you all!

Hey, by the way check out the website as we have a forum now!



Current Mood: blankblank
Current Music: Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You

coming to a theatre near you! Jul. 8th, 2005 @ 11:35 am

Well I have confirmed my flight and everything seems to be in order for my return back to Canada on July 14, 2005.

I've been spending my days in Bangkok lately saying my goodbyes to the exchange students that leave before I go...basically way too much time spent getting up at 3:00a, to go to the Bangkok International Airport.

On June 26, all Canadians in Thailand came together at a hotel in Bangkok to celebrate Canada Day.  About 6 of us exchange students went to the event that included games, swimming, dinner with fresh Canadian SALMON, foreign food, and Canadian Beer.  We had a chance to meet the Canadian Ambassador to Thailand and his family, but we didn't leave without another picture to add to the collection.  He was quite interesting to talk with as he has three daughters all of whom are around 17-20 and a son who is 15.

For the actual Canada Day, a bunch of us spent our time running around Bangkok sporting red and white with maple leafs, tattoos, flags, 2010 Winter Olympic brochures, Canada brochures, and pins.  I was wearing Joe Boxers that say 'Canadian Chicks Rule' along with a Canada Day in Bangkok t-shirt, while some people had Canadian Flag face tattoos.  We made sure that everyone was aware it was Canada Day.  It was great.  We also watched the new movie "War of the World", which I thought really wasn't the best movie with all the hype everyone was giving it.

I had a suit package made for about $290.00 CND that included a jacket, pants, vest, and three shirts.  I can't wait to wear it all when I get back home.

Anyways, the time I have left here in Thailand will include a speech for my school and Rotary in Thai, handing out presents to all of my host families and the people who have helped over the year, and the a few days to get everything organized and packed.  It will go by way too fast and then by the time I realize it I'll be back in Canada and looking back on Thailand as if it were a dream.

When I arrive back in Canada on July 14 at around 10:15am, it will be a casual day that may include lunch in Vancouver with whom ever wants to come and then off to the Sunshine Coast.

I'll see you all soon.

I miss all of you exchange students.

Remember to check out our exchange students in Thailand website at www.thaiyouthexchange.net.

See you soon.

Current Mood: weirdweird
Current Music: various hits :)

A lead up to Canada Day - July 1, 2005 Jun. 27th, 2005 @ 04:46 pm



You Know You're From Canada When...
You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk."

You understand the phrase, "Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield."

You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.

You drink pop, not soda.

You know what a Mickey and 2-4 mean.

You don't care about the fuss with Cuba. It's a cheap place to go for your holidays, with good cigars.

You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.

You drive on a highway, not a freeway.

You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.

You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.

You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and many more are Canadians.

You know that the C.E.O. of American Airlines is a Canadian!

You know what a touque is.

You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed" not "Zee".

You understand the Labatt Blue commercials.

You know how to pronounce and spell "Saskatchewan."

You perk up when you hear the theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada."

You were in grade 12, not the 12th grade.

"Eh?" is a very important part of your vocabulary and more polite than, "Huh?"

Winter. Whenever you want it. And then some.

There's German food, Italian food, Chinese food, Armenian food, American food, but NO Canadian food.

You call a "mouse" a "moose".

You like the Americans a little because they don't want Quebec either.

Contests run by anyone other than the government have "skill-testing questions" that winners must answer correctly before they can claim a prize.

Everything is labelled in English and French.

Milk comes in plastic bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.

Mountain Dew has no caffeine.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Canada.

Beauty Queens and Tsunami Repairs Jun. 25th, 2005 @ 05:58 am

This weekend, back in Canada, one of my most recent articles was published in my local newspaper, 'The Coast Reporter'.  Read below or check out the article online by click on this link.  Click here.


Beauty queens and tsunami repairs 

By Kai Nestman/Contributing Writer 
One month: that’s the time left in my Rotary exchange visit to Thailand, a short time to explore places I haven’t been, visit exchange students and spend time with my Thai friends and families. My return date is set for July 14. Everything has been put into perspective, and I must live every day here in Thailand thinking only of the present.
Recently, beautiful women from all over the world were in Bangkok to see if they could become the next Miss Universe. This NBC program was broadcast live from Bangkok, and I was one of the crazy Canadians in the crowd cheering on Miss Canada, who eventually that morning would be crowned Miss Universe 2005.

My role in the crowd included yelling “Canada” every chance I got, waving my Canadian flag hysterically and convincing the people around me that they too should be cheering for Miss Canada. It was quite a show.

A recent Rotary tour of the southern part of Thailand with all the exchange students allowed us to travel to various popular tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Similans (Similan Islands) and Surat Thani.

The Similan Islands, located on the southwestern Thai coastline close to the popular destination of Phuket, really capture the tropical island appearance.

This group of nine small islands is surrounded by spectacular diving areas and interesting rock formations. Mostly uninhabited, besides one island with a National Park visitor centre and cabins, these islands are well known snorkelling and diving marvels that provide mesmerising sunsets.

While taking a boat tour around the infamous James Bond Island we came across a sailboat from Canada, the Nimbus, registered out of Vancouver. We tried to find the owners, but I guess they had gone ashore for the day.

Much of the area is still undergoing relief efforts and rebuilding as a result of the December 26 tsunami.

A tour of Rotary International’s contribution to the relief effort assured us exchange students that we are with the perfect organization, one that is doing its part in reconstructing Thailand and other affected nations.

A long-term project dubbed Operation Rotary Cares is currently being commissioned to complete 200 low-cost housing units, provide public utilities, scholarships and psychiatric assistance and repair or build schools in the affected areas. At two different locations we were able to help out for a short time dumping buckets of concrete to develop the building foundations and painting steel supports. One of the housing sites was almost complete, with 30 units, and the other site was just getting started on its 80-unit project. Even though the area was still in ruins from the tsunami, it was visible that relief was taking place, sponsored by organizations such as Rotary International, World Vision and CARE.

Stopping at Phuket’s busiest beach, Patong, was reassuring. Mock evacuation exercises of the beach and tests of a new tsunami early-warning system were taking place. It’s great to know first-hand that the billions of dollars in reconstruction are starting to show in this devastated region.

Becoming an exchange student is open to 15- to 18-year-olds currently in high school. It is an experience that will shape a life and create memories forever.

If you’re interested, check out www.d5040youthexchange.ca for details on how to apply. Keep in touch with questions or comments by sending me an email.

Current Mood: energeticI'm jumping!
Current Music: computers buzzing.
Other entries
» tid bits

Chumphae, Bangkok, Sriracha, Chantaburi, and now Bangkok.

Sriracha was great, but short as I spent the time with Lydia for only one night and two short days.  We walked around Robinsons and then checked out the new movie "Batman Begins", which wasn't that bad...pretty good actually, and it all made sense even though I forgot the other Batman movies.  We rented "Envy" and "The Whole Ten Yards".  "Envy" was really funny and "The Whole Ten Yards" didn't make much sense as I forgot what happened in "The Whole Nine Yards."

Chantaburi meant David Allens birthday (june 22) and then staying at Maya's huge, rich host families house, where she has everything and so much more.

A bus last night back to BKK was so that we could see Rob at the airport before he left at 6:00am.  I only got three hours of sleep and then I went to the Thai-Canadian Chamber Of Commerce to buy the Canadians in Thailand event tickets to mark Canada Day in Bangkok!

Whoo hoo..thanks to internet at MBK.

talk soon.kai

» extra, extra...

Kai Liam Nestman's Aliases

Your movie star name: Banana Bread Leo

Your fashion designer name is Kai Copenhagen

Your socialite name is Kaibear Victoria

Your fly girl / guy name is K Nes

Your detective name is Horse Chatelech

Your barfly name is Pineapple 100 Pipers

Your soap opera name is Liam Chartwell

Your rock star name is Licorice Cheetah

Your star wars name is Kaijen Nespri

Your punk rock band name is The Sabai Toothpick


You Know You Grew Up In The 80's or Early 90's If:

1. You've ever ended a sentence with the word "SIKE".
2. You watched the Pound Puppies.
3. You can sing the rap to the "Fresh Prince of BelAir" ...and can do the
4. Girls wore biker shorts under their skirts and felt stylishly sexy.
5. You yearned to be a member of the Baby Sitters Club and tried to start a club of your own.
6. You owned those lil' Strawberry Shortcake pals scented dolls.
7. You know that "WOAH " comes from Joey on Blossom
8. Two words: Hammer Pants
9. If you ever watched "Fraggle Rock"
10. You had plastic streamers on your handle bars... and "spokey-dokes"
or playing cards on your spokes for that incredible sound effect
11. You can sing the entire theme song to "Duck Tales" (Woo ooh!)
12. It was actually worth getting up early on a Saturday to watch cartoons.
13. You wore a ponytail on the side of your head.
14. You saw the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on the big
screen...and still know the turtles names.
15. You got super-excited when it was Oregon Trail day in computer class at school.
16. You made your mom buy one of those clips that would hold your shirt in a knot on the side.
17. You played the game "MASH" (Mansion, Apartment, Shelter, House)
18. You wore stonewashed Jordache jean jackets and were proud of it.
19. L.A. Gear....need I say more?
20. You wanted to change your name to "JEM " (She's truly outrageous.)
21. You remember reading "Tales of a fourth grade nothing" and all the
Ramona books.
22. You know the profound meaning of "WAX ON, WAX OFF"
23. You wanted to be a Goonie.
24. You ever wore fluorescent clothing. (some of us...head-to-toe)
25.You can remember what Michael Jackson looked like before his nose fell off and his cheeks shifted.
26. You have ever pondered why Smurfette was the only female smurf.
27. You took lunch boxes to school... and traded Garbage Pail kids in the
28. You remember the CRAZE, then the BANNING of slap bracelets.
29. You still get the urge to say "NOT" after every sentence.
30. You remember Hypercolor t-shirts.
31. Barbie and the Rockers was your favorite band.
32. You thought She-Ra (Princess of Power!!) and He-Man should hook up.
33. You thought your childhood friends would never leave because you
exchanged handmade friendship bracelets.
34. You ever owned a pair of jelly-Shoes. (and like ..24, probably in neon
colors, too)
35. After you saw Pee-Wee's Big Adventure you kept saying "I know you are, but what am I?"
36. You remember "I've fallen and I can't get up"
37. You remember going to the skating rink before there were inline skates.
38. You ever got seriously injured on a Slip and Slide.
39. You have ever played with a Skip-It.
40. You had or attended a birthday party at McDonald's.
41. You've gone through this nodding your head in agreement.
42. You remember Popples.
43. "Don't worry, be happy"
44. You wore like, EIGHT pairs of socks over tights with high top Reebok's.
45. You wore socks scrunched down (and sometimes still do...getting yelled at by "younger hip" members of the family)
46. You remember boom boxes. .. and walking around with one on your shoulder like you were all that.
47. You remember watching both "Gremlins " movies.
48. You know what it meant to say "Care Bear Stare!!"
49. You remember watching "Rainbow Bright" and "My Little Pony Tales"
50. You thought Doogie Howser/Samantha Micelli was hot.
51. You remember Alf, the lil furry brown alien from Melmac.
52. You remember New Kids on the Block when they were cool...and don't even flinch when people refer to them as "NKOTB".
53. You knew all the characters names and their life stories on "Saved By
The Bell," The ORIGINAL class.
54. You know all the words to Bon Jovi - SHOT THROUGH THE HEART.
55. You just sang those words to yourself.
56. You remember watching Magic vs. Bird.
57. Homemade Levi shorts.. (the shorter the better)
58. You remember when mullets were cool!
59. You had a mullet!
60. You still sing "We are the World"
61. You tight rolled your jeans.
62. You owned a banana clip.
63. You remember "Where's the Beef?"
64. You used to (and probably still do) say "What you talkin' about Willis?"
65. You had big hair and you knew how to use it.
66. You're still singing shot through the heart in your head, aren't you!!!
67. You had a Popple!
68. Punky Power!

» unknown.

Now for the longest time, well more recent that long, I was really starting to think that my time here in this often missunderstood country, full of experience and travel, has come to a hault.  I was at the point where thinking about everything Thai and all Thai experiences had no entertaining value or enthusiastic twist, then it started to change a bit back to its original state and I was once again confortable, but still not sure if this was where I should be.  Continuing an exchange in a country is one thing, but doing it with no friends or familiarity is something else.

One of the reasons why I changed my return date from July 25 to July 14, 2005, was because phsycologically it made the biggest difference in the grand scheme of things and felt like I was returning home, well to Canada that is, a whole month earlier, when it really turns out to be 11 days.  With only a few exhange students here in Thailand by July 25th and not that much time in Canada to meet up with everyone before I'm off to university and another very different experience, I decided that a change in my return date was the best idea at the time, that was up until tonight, or should I say this morning.

Should I have changed my date, I still don't know.

Do photos tell a story?  Something real or true?  Should a person look at such photos as something worth predicting a return back to Canada?

No, really, I mean until this morning I had no idea that my return would be this potencially different in terms of friendships and realionships back home...

Thinking of a rebound that is totally unpredicatable is something in itself.

Coming home to Canada, facing my family and all of its changes over the year, the general public and society, adapting towards a 'new' Kai, one that perhaps includes a part of Thailand and Canada combined will be the easy part, but coming home to friendships and relationships and the 'not too sure' thought of university will create the greatest challenge of my whole return.

Friendships and Relationships: photos:

Thinking of how to fit into the changes that have taken place over this year.  Thinking, will this work out and will I go the 'old' friendship route?  Will 'old' friendships still exist?  Will there be room for the 'new' Kai?  Thinking; not sure; unknown; many changes.

Thoughts transpire as I wonder what will happen with a landing back down into Canada, Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, and Sechelt, maybe Victoria too.

We'll see.

Exchange students: we'll stick together through the years, even if it isn't through physical communication. Mental communication will guide us the way to unification. always remember and never forget are the key words.

with love.


» time's a ticking . . . . .

Closing in on my final month.

Our adventures in Bangkok took us places we've never been before, such as to Khao San, i mean the airport, i mean MBK.  All these places are so interesting that I wish I had discovered them before, so I could spend half of my exchange hanging out at these Bangkok "Places to Go"-but wait have I already done that?  I guess when it comes to BKK there really are only three places you can go and after that everywhere else just seems like a duplicate or another version of Khao San, i mean the airport, i mean MBK.  Thinking back there have been many times within this concrete palace that can only resemble Las Vegas, as "once you go you never want to leave!"

Times were spent saying goodbye to our last Brazilian, an American and Canadian, all of which will be missed greatly, etc, etc.  That's right, two trips to the airport, or more commonly known as Don Muang, left us going to our pirch up at the Burger King, or more commonly known as "the first desination to find an exchange student in the airport."  The first goodbye was quite the emotional one and totally different compared to the second when we shook hands and sang out 'WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS' as opposed to the traditional 'I'M LEAVING ON A JETPLANE.'  haha, anyways...

Our times are nearing an end, and really what person hasn't said that a million times by now, so we must pack our shit and get out of this country, only going back home (well another home) to something that is no longer familiarity...oh the rebound procedure :)  it will be different for sure, and something that we must all share with each other.

A reminder that Sunday is Father's Day for those of you who have forgotten!

This weekend my travels will take me to Sriracha and then on to Chantaburi, before returning back to our Thailand Las Vegas where I will stay from June 23-July 6....that's way too long!







» ha!

Oh they changed it!


Come and join in on June 26th 2005, at 1pm.

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