Catching up with Bam


Courtesy of Bam

Bam (to the right of the student in the purple dress) poses with her classmates in Thailand. Photo courtesy of Bam.

As a senior, I have been looking back a lot at the past few years, thinking about the significant and defining moments that I will take with me as I age. One that I know I will always remember is my time with Tanyaporn Tangguay, or Bam as everyone called her, a foreign exchange student from Thailand.

Bam came to Chapman during the 2018-2019 school year. According to the Open Doors Report on the International Educational Exchange, there were 1,095,299 international students in the United States during that school year.

Bam and I had three classes together second semester: algebra ll, sublic speaking and government. After doing each other’s introduction speeches in public speaking, Bam and I became really close friends.

“I think the biggest (struggle that comes with being a foreign exchange student) is language,” said public speaking teacher Susan Hall. “When I saw that Bam was in public speaking, I was scared for her because I thought it’s hard for people who are native English speakers to take this class because of the fear and the dread and all that. So when I saw Bam in there I was like, ‘What is she doing? She has got to be brave.’ But then after she gave her first speech and I realized how everyone had just kind of embraced her and how much it meant to her to give that speech all in English I thought, ‘She’s in the right place.’”

I remember going to her first baseball game together, playing hours of Just Dance at my house, helping each other with projects, and Bam teaching me how to write my name in Thai. Even with the time difference and great distance, Bam and I still keep in touch with each other.

“I miss friends the most!” Bam said. “I miss when my friends and I were having lunch together or walking in the hallway. “

Bam said that the months she gets school breaks are completely different in Thailand. They go to school in the first semester from May to October, and then the second semester is from November to March. She also said that in her school in Thailand they don’t get to pick their classes like we do here.

Bam not only enjoyed her time at Chapman but also in the United States in general. She had the opportunity to travel to different places within the country.

“One of my favorite memories is when I went to NYC to celebrate New Year,” Bam said. “Even though it was very crowded I had a lot of fun. I saw the ball drop and went to many places. It is very cool for me when I am watching US movies and it takes place in NYC and I am like, ‘Oh I have been there.’”

I’m so grateful that Bam took good memories back home to Thailand, and I am also thankful for all that I got to learn from her.

“I think a lot of times in a small school our eyes are so closed to other cultures and so it was really good for all of us to see and to hear what she had to say,” Hall said. “She would always let us know well that’s not how it is in Thailand and this is not what (she was) used to so it was just good for us to learn as much from her as she did from us.”