*This post was originally published on June 23rd, 2012 on amywarcup.com
“I didn’t have any expectations in my mind. I just knew, when I decided to sign up for the trip to Thailand that I was just going. It couldn’t have been any better.”
These reflective words were spoken by Kate Star, a precocious twenty-three year old graduate from FLCC’s 2010 class in the Therapeutic Massage and Integrated Health Care Program.
We have just landed in the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City for a six hour layover before departing for Rochester. Sights, sounds, and smells of Thailand still linger inside of our minds and senses as we slowly assimilate back to American culture. It was then that Kate Star and I finally had a chance to converse about the trip, and why she decided to join our group to visit the Land of Smiles.
Kate was not a complete novice to Thai massage before studying the healing art in Thailand. Back in 2009, Kate participated in a Thai massage workshop that was offered at an American Massage Therapy Association conference. “I love the connection that a practitioner has with a client during a Shiatsu or Thai massage session better than most Western massage. I feel the flow of the work. It’s not like the client is just lying there. I feel like I’m working on the person and the client’s body in an entirely different way.”
While in the massage program, Shiatsu was Kate’s favorite subject because she enjoyed the eastern theory that the modality is based upon, feeling that the theory is more than just a concept, but something she and others can incorporate into their entire lives. Her passion for Daoism and Chinese Medicine theory was key in her decision to advance her studies in Chinese Medicine. After graduating from the massage program, Kate continued her education for four trimesters at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture in pursuit of a Master’s of Science degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Kate is currently taking time off from her studies, but she plans to finish her degree to become a holistic practitioner of Chinese medicine that includes Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, Daoist and eastern theory, and takes into account the health of the entire person. She also intends to incorporate Thai massage and eastern bodywork into her practice.
Kate is not a stranger to foreign travel. During her young 23 years, she has visited Germany, Holland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Peurto Rico, and Jamaica. “I’ve always liked traveling, and I am fascinated with learning about different cultures,” Kate shared. Thailand was Kate’s first visit to Asia, however, and her impression of the Thai culture left her excited to return to the Southeast Asian haven soon. “I had to experience Thailand to realize that this is something I want to do. I plan to practice Thai massage a lot when I go home, and eventually go back to the SVG Training center to take levels III and IV in the program.”
In addition to her interest in the bodywork, Kate also a great passion for learning foreign languages. She is currently interested in studying Thai and Chinese languages. In fact, Kate is seriously considering living in Thailand for a year to teach English at the Chiang Mai University.
Perhaps Kate’s greatest reason for feeling so inspired to return to Thailand is because of the Thai people themselves. When I asked Kate what her favorite aspect of visiting Thailand was, she stated “being part of the SVG family was really special. As I went through the program, I felt really at peace and at home. It was very comforting there.” She was also struck by the respectfulness of the Thai people, and how safe she felt during her stay in general. “The culture is very considerate of others. Also, if things go wrong, the Thai people just have a way with dealing with it, knowing that it will all turn out okay. They also devote themselves to their accomplishments one hundred percent, but without the pressure of “expectations” from anyone.” Kate made several new Thai friends during her three and a half week visit, even including during her short stay in Bangkok. That, from Kate’s perspective, was the best part of the trip – experiencing the Thai people for who they truly are.
Aside from her love for health, eastern theory, and foreign langauges, Kate also enjoys spending time with her family where she grew up in Prattsburg, New York, a town located right outside of Naples in the Finger Lakes region. During her family time, she may be found sitting around a campfire with her parents and siblings singing, camping, and experiencing nature. She has also been a dancer for several years, and has performed several styles of dance including modern, jazz, African, hip-hop, and tap. Her parents are also skilled swing dancers, and this talent is prevalent in Kate’s family. Kate and her sister both love to swing dance. She herself used to be in a swing dance troupe.
Kate describes herself as being a go-getter. When she sets out to accomplish a goal, she is unafraid to pursue it, and will usually not allow any barriers to stand in her way. After spending almost a month traveling with the multi-talented Ms. Star, I agree whole-heartedly with this description. Considering this, it is only a matter of time before Kate is back on that twenty-six hour flight to return to her beloved Land of Smiles to share her own smile and talents with the Thai people who have brought her so much joy on this journey.