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Taxi Inter Project + Infinite Inspires

English Instructor for the Thai Taxi Community, Artist for Infinite Inspires Art Fundraising Exhibition

Taxi Inter Project + Infinite Inspires: Clients

From Day One

I remember as a child taking a taxi with my family to the train station. The taxicab looked like a mini-apartment with scattered food containers throughout and clothing piled on the front seat. The moment we stepped in, the taxi driver apologized for the mess. “I have to save all my earnings so most of my time is spent here,” he explained. His tattered clothes and scratched collar conveyed that.

Throughout the journey, his dazzling eyes could be seen in the rear mirror as he talked about his upcoming family reunion. Seeing that the Songkran holidays were approaching, we questioned why he wouldn’t stay longer to pick up the influx of foreign tourists. He laughed. “I’d love to, but I don’t understand what they say.” That was the last phrase before he dropped us off.

With over 32 million tourist arrivals to Thailand in the past year, it is clear that my country’s role as one of the most popular destinations in the world is important. Alongside the growing tourism industry is the approach of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is intended to increase the free flow of people in and out of Thailand.

During my internship at the Fiscal Policy Research Institute Foundation, I saw that Thailand’s goal of becoming the second home to the world has many obstacles to overcome across all industries. Chiefly, the communication barrier within the Thai transport network system is hindering the growing bond between Thais and their foreign guests.

With tourists hailing from around the world, imagine all the accents a taxi driver with barely a sixth grade Thai education and hardly any proper English instruction has to comprehend. Earning less than $2 an hour for their 12-hour shifts, some drivers feel powerless to improve themselves as they are more concerned with surviving the day.

I remembered the taxi driver’s embarrassment during my taxi journey and was compelled to find a way in which taxi drivers could better themselves and not be afraid to pick up foreign tourists.

In 2015, I designed an English program specifically for drivers at the Thai Taxi Heart International Community in order to improve basic English proficiency and alleviate common misconceptions between Thai taxi drivers and foreign passengers. Just giving the correct pronunciation of ‘Floating Market’ (a common taxi destination) from ‘Fruting Mahget’ could increase their daily intake greatly.

With the positive feedback from the taxi drivers, I was able to publish my own course materials into a handbook for the drivers. ‘A Guide to Basic English Conversations’ came to fruition with the help and approval from the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute.

At the same time, I recalled the twinkling eyes of the taxi driver I encountered as a child and the thought of reuniting taxi drivers with their families came flashing through me. Staring at the 2B pencil in my hand, I wished money would materialize as easily as drawings did from this pencil. Suddenly, a viable outlet was born.

Through the creation of my own art exhibition, ‘Infinite Inspires’, I sold my artwork to raise funds so that the drivers could increase their share back home and shorten their time away from their loved ones. Since my participation with the Thai taxi community began, I have been able to raise 189,000 Baht (almost $6000) for the taxi drivers and their families.

One of my favorite art pieces at the exhibition depicts a butterfly flying freely in the azure sky, a painting that I used for the cover of my English handbook. I feel like that butterfly going out in the world to proudly spread acts of human kindness, just like how I have passed on the baton to my high school junior Krittapas (Poon) Mathurunyanont in helping the Thai taxi community further.

Hopefully this butterfly’s small contribution can continue to have a lasting impact for future generations of working Thais in the transportation industry and their families.

Taxi Inter Project + Infinite Inspires: Text
Taxi Inter Project + Infinite Inspires: Pro Gallery
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