His name is Pee Sai.
He is 23-years-old.
He is my friend.
Pee Sai speaks very little English, and I speak absolutely no Burmese, but the language barrier is not detrimental towards our friendship. I don’t need to speak his language to know that Pee Sai is hilarious, kind, and worrysome. He does not need to speak my language to know how well we get along.
When I first met Pee Sai, I had just crossed the Burmese-Thai border after sitting between the two countries in horrendous heat for an hour. I was sweaty, irritated, and was suffering from one of my headaches; he was shy, not speaking to anyone as we found our way to the bus that would take us throughout Burma.
I officially met Pee Sai outside of a school in the Burmese mountains. I was asked to grab my ukulele from the bus so our group could sing a song for the schoolchildren, and Pee Sai was asked to escort me.
“Hello, I am Pee Sai, what is your name?”
“Hi, I’m Aria!”
When I tried to converse further, I realized how those few words were some of the only English words Pee Sai knew. After we discovered this hurdle, we communicated through outrageous gestures, silly faces, and universal sounds of approval, disapproval, annoyance, and happiness.
Pee Sai would seem to be, to most of anyone, a shy but friendly face; a man who has lived a relatively easy life and recognizes that.
Pee Sai has not lived such a life.Read More »