Kyle Ducharme
Kyle Ducharme
Thailand 2013-2014
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman Read More About Kyle →

Last Week in Thailand


After being in Thailand for almost 6 months, I am sad to say that it is finally over. Students are home, my small home is cleaned, and my bags are almost packed. Today I had the opportunity to visit the coffee farms for one last time to see the coffee beans being hand sorted by people from the hilltribe. It was definitely a bittersweet moment because it will be my last visit for quite sometime, but it was amazing to see the progress we have made and the relationships that have formed over the last 5 months.

Living in Thailand and being a part of this unique culture has opened my eyes and heart in ways that they never were before. Thailand’s culture, full of patience, love, and community, has taught me to live. Live through all misfortunes in life and remember to not wish things away. My life before Thailand lived for results. Graduating from college, getting the best grades, and eventually starting a business, but I sometimes forgot about the importance of the process that gets you there. Becoming patient and appreciating the process has helped me become a better teacher, friend, and business owner.

It’s been an amazing ride, and I will forever be grateful for this experience. I have had the opportunity to play with tigers, teach over 300 students, start a coffee business, relax on the white sandy beaches, and try exotic foods. I never expected to get this much out of Thailand, and I feel like I will return home with a new perspective on what it means to be alive. I always heard stories about how much traveling and living in a different culture will change you, but I never truly believed them until now. Past were right. I leave Thailand a changed man for the better.

Until next time Thailand...

The last week of “Kru” Kyle

In only 3 days, I will be finishing up my last day of teaching. It has been an amazingly, quick time here in Thailand, and I cannot believe that it is coming to a close. Starting a business the last 2 months has made it feel as if time is flying by at an even faster rate.

Yesterday, my busiest day of the week, I said goodbye two five of my 11th grade classes. Usually at the end of every class, students will stand up and say, “Thank you teacher. Goodbye. See you next time.” Yesterday in class, students stood up like they always did and said, Thank you teacher. Goodbye. See you...”. It was a mixture of feeling sad and awkward, so I usually would just “say see you when you visit me in America” as a joke.

The past 5 months here have been a whirlwind of emotions. Stress, love, confusion, and peace were a few of the emotions that were part of every week. I am blessed to be able to have met the many people I have and gotten to teach my students. I will miss their warm smiles and excited waves every single day. They have made this an adventure that I will never forget.

In over a week, I will be packing my bags and beginning another mini-adventure traveling around Thailand. I will be able to spend almost 4 weeks traveling to the many different parts of the country that I have not visited yet. A lot of the time spent in Thailand has been used getting to know the north, so I am extremely excited to see the rest of the country. After 4 weeks here, I will be heading to Taiwan for a week to explore the island.

As I wrap up, I cannot express how grateful I am for the people who have made this such a memorable trip. Everyone in Thailand has shown me what it means to be alive and fully present, and I will never forget that.

On Top of the World – Phu Chee Fah

Yesterday morning I was woken up by my friend Mark’s alarm at approximately 3:15 AM. Surprisingly this was not on accident, yet a choice. Mark and I, along with 8 other friends, were making the 2 hour trip to go to the famous area known as Phu Chee Fah. So we piled in a van driven by a man that spoke barely any English, drove 2 hours, and made a short 1km hike up to the mountain to wait for the sun to rise. We knew that it would be relatively cold up in the mountains, so we all bundled up and I even purchased a scarf the night before at the local market. Surrounded by hundreds of Thai people, we waited about 30 minutes until the sun began to rise at about 6 AM. It is hard to describe how beautiful the scenery was, so I figured it would be easier to show through the many pictures that I took that morning. Luckily, you do not have to wake up at 3 AM to enjoy the same view that I did yesterday. Enjoy!

Kao Jai Coffee Kao Jai Coffee Kao Jai Coffee Kao Jai Coffee


The Intersection Between Need and Passion

Like many other young Millennials, I have always wanted to do something different and take a path that leads to being a part of something that matters. Being young and naive has led me astray in many different ways, but it has also been the fuel that encourages me to always be curious and never stop asking questions.

In college, I spent many hours working on projects and business plans for various ideas ranging from assisted living consulting to silent discos. These ideas yielded high grades and a sense of accomplishment, but too often they were just the result of a conversation with a friend or an article found online.

After spending almost 6 months living in Thailand, I have realized that it is nearly impossible to create something that matters without being at the crossroads of need and passion. TOMs Shoes, one of the best examples, was created when the founder took a trip to Argentina and saw the hardships that children faced without shoes. Whether it was fate or divine intervention, he was at the exact point where need and passion intersected.

Dreaming about doing something that matters is important, but getting out there, meeting the people, and experiencing your passions first hand trumps all. This idea for a business that works directly with local farming families and gives a percentage of profits to help fund service trips would never have been created without my presence in Thailand. Taking a leap of faith and trying something new might not always result in a business that combines need and passion, but I can guarantee that you will meet some amazing people and create some epic stories along the way.

Moving to Thailand was definitely not the easiest transition, but moving somewhere new was the spark that ignited the idea for Kao Jai Coffee. I will forever be grateful for the terrifying taxi rides, confused stares, and overwhelming shopping trips that have made this experience as authentic as it gets.

Kao Jai.

Two months ago I began my journey of starting something that matters with a long, tedious trek up switchback mountain roads and down muddy paths to a small, privately owned coffee farm. At that point, I honestly didn’t know what sparked this fire inside of me, but I knew that it was something that I needed to follow even if it was done blindly. The dictionary defines the word understand as an individual’s ability to be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of something. In this context, understanding someone or something means that an individual must take on, or experience, the thing or person’s life as their own.

Understanding in a world with such a significant language barrier has opened my eyes to how precious communication truly is. Back home, stories and experiences are publicly displayed on social media giving people the opportunity to live vicariously through others. I have never doubted that a tweet is worth 140 characters or a picture a thousand words, but experiencing something firsthand is priceless.

This opportunity of living in an area where I am unable to speak the language has come as a blessing in disguise. During my visit to the coffee farm, the mother of the family graciously invited me to sit and eat lunch under a small, bamboo shack that was constructed to protect the family members from the weather. Words were not exchanged, yet it was evident that each person sharing that meal together was sympathetically aware of the character and nature of one another. Honestly, not being able to speak with one another made this moment truly unforgettable.

Kao Jai Coffee

Kao Jai Coffee

No matter how successful Kao Jai Coffee may or may not be, living a life that is aware, curious, and sympathetic helps me better understand not only others, but myself as well. Sharing helps show others, but never forget that experiencing leads to understanding.

For more info check out:

The “Thai-et”: How I lost 25 pounds in 90 days

The thought of going on any sort of diet has always made me cringe. Hearing stories of people’s only caloric intake being from maple syrup, Cheyenne pepper, or lemon water made me question their sanity, but I have always had the utmost respect for those who are able to forgo the finest delicacies just to shed a few pounds.

When I flew here three months ago, I’m proud to say that I spent so much time packing that my bags did not exceed the weight limit, but it was probably for the best that I did not get on the scale. To be honest, I definitely got my moneys worth on that ticket. Luckily, I found the answer to my problems, and it was located on the streets of Bangkok, small shops in Chiang Rai, and the cafeteria of a boarding school.

The hardest part of losing weight is finding a way to separate yourself from your daily routine and create a new and fresh environment conducive to change. Every year millions of people generate elaborate New Years Resolutions to change their life, but people continuously fail to follow these plans because of the inability to separate themselves from their routine. Luckily, I have flown over 8000 miles to a place where I have been forced to separate myself from the “known” and create the ultimate environment for change.

I am fully aware that my experience is not applicable to every person and every situation, but these different guidelines have completely revolutionized my perspective on the traditional diet. Since being here and following my “Thai-et” (Thai Diet) guidelines, I have been able to lose over 25 pounds in 90 days, and I hope that some work for you as well.

The 3-Step “Thai-et”

1. Cut Out the Middleman

While everyone can’t raise their own livestock or grow every piece of produce, it’s important to eat and live in a natural way. When going to a grocery store, imagine it being like a local market that you would find in Thailand. Basically everything at a Thai market was recently attached to the ground or had a heartbeat (actually, sometimes it still does), so you know it’s always fresh. Even in the US there are ways to purchase the freshest ingredients without breaking the bank, so forgo those pre-packaged meals and cut out that middleman.

2. Re-invent your Meals

No matter the time of day or type of food, every Thai person that I have met thus far loves to eat, but it is done in a way that doesn’t pack on the pounds. Most meals here consist of 3 main parts: rice or noodles, vegetables, and a protein (pork, chicken, or beef). Meals are simple, yet delicious and meals are eaten in smaller quantities as the day progresses. Dinner, eaten around 5 PM, is the smallest and simplest meal of the day because work is finished for the day, so excessive amounts of energy are not needed anymore. Rather than fully adopting the Thai eating patterns, start your Thai-et by remembering that your dinner does not need to be a symphony of ingredients, yet it should be the smallest, most simple meal of the day.

3. Live and Eat in Moderation

After living in Thailand for only a few weeks, I realized how much Thailand really “gets it.” Everything in Thailand is done in a way the brings out the best in life. People in Thailand do not say things like “live to eat” or “eat to live” because they just live. Every aspect of life from working to eating are cherished and seen as a gift, which is why it seems as if everyone is fully appreciative of what they have. Things are not done in a way that encourages overindulgence, yet enjoying such pleasures in moderation creates an environment that increases an individual’s ability to fully live. Being able to fully live in moderation will not only help shed pounds, but will increase a person’s appreciation for their life and those around them.

So…Now What?

Like many others, I was tempted by the abundance of options and variety in America, and I lost. In a country where you have access to a mass quantity of diverse foods, it is easy to cave in and overindulge. Rather than giving up, I challenge you to find your environment for change and create it like I was able to.

– Kyle

Sports Day: Thailand’s Pre-Game for the Olympics

This week, our school participated in the annual, two-day celebration of Sports Day(s). These days were filled with cheers, parades, sports (duh), dancing, and a lot of snacks. Rather than try to explain the glorious aspects of these festive days, I will show you through the many photos I took. So….sit back, relax, and enjoy Thailand’s Pre-Game for the Olympics A.K.A. “Sports Days.”


Participating in the opening parade celebration. (Yes, that is a had made with beer cans and a fake cigarette)

Participating in the opening parade celebration. (Yes, that is a hat made with beer cans and a fake cigarette)


Opening Day ceremonies.

Sports Day wouldn't be Sports Day without some K-Pop dancing from the senior boys.

Sports Day wouldn’t be Sports Day without some K-Pop dancing from the senior boys. Or…

Or a student blowing fire out of their mouth.

A student blowing fire out of their mouth.


American school pride does not even come close to comparing to school pride in Thailand.

American school pride does not even compare to school pride in Thailand.

Case and point.

Case and point.

Again, there is no comparison.

Again, there is no comparison.

No Sports Day would be complete without an epic tip-off or...

No Sports Day would be complete without an epic tip-off. Or…


Some students ballin' hard or....

Some students ballin’ hard. Or….

An epic showdown between two football (sorry America, I have converted) teams. Or....

An epic showdown between two football (sorry America, I have converted) teams. Or….

A photo finish in the 100m race. Lastly, Sports Day would not be complete without...

A photo finish in the 100m race. Lastly, Sports Day would not be complete without…

An overabundance of Thai snacks.

A plethora of Thai snacks.

Well, there you have it folks. A little glimpse into my life living in one of the coolest places on Earth. One thing that I have learned since being in Thailand that I did not know before: Thai people LOVE celebrations. No matter the occasion, or the time, or the place, Thai people put 110% into making the festival or celebration the most epic day ever, and Sports Day was no different.

Enjoy your weekend!

– Kyle

Same Same But Different

Currently, there is one phrase that is printed on almost every t-shirt sold in markets throughout Thailand: “Same same but different.” Besides occasionally using this in class to make a joke when comparing two things, I haven’t put much thought into how significantly thought provoking this popular saying actually is.

Growing up in Massachusetts, going to school in Nashville, and working with an amazing non-profit in East Tennessee have given me many amazing opportunities to meet and form friendships with many people from across the country. Despite having slight differences, these people could essentially be described in one word: similar.(I specifically chose this word not to bring forth any sort of negative connotations, yet to emphasize the similar goals, wants, and passions that my friends share with one another and myself.)

When I finally committed to the idea of living and working as a teacher in Northern Thailand, I did what everyone else does when they need answers: I Googled it. Many of my initial stereotypes were proven true during this process. I already knew that Thailand is home to many beautiful beaches because of Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous movie, has extremely high prostitution rates because it is known as a “sextourism” destination, and is currently ruled by a King that is a part of the longest reigning monarchy in the world

Despite reading as many articles as I could find, I was nervous of the unknown. The feelings associated with THINKING about moving somewhere different are completely different than the moment when you purchase your one-way ticket to a destination over 8000 miles away. That single click of a mouse confirming your purchase could be one of the largest, most influential, and life-changing decisions that you ever make.

No amount of time spent reading articles found on Google could have eased my nerves and assured me that I was leaving to live in a place that shared similarities with home. Since I stepped foot on Thai soil in mid-October, any fear of the unknown has been forgotten and I have become to feel as if I am home in a new, foreign country. Google failed to educated me on the similarities that people share with one another no matter where they are in the world. My students, my fellow teachers, local restaurant owners, and even taxi drivers (well, sometimes) have shown me how “same same but different” the people are here compared to those back home. Everyone may look different, wear different styled clothes, and listen to different music (mostly K-Pop), but everyone has the same determination to live life to the fullest while impacting those around them in the best possible way.

Leaving the known is something that may confuse, frustrate, and exhaust you at times (trust me, I know), but once you have taken that leap of faith your eyes will be opened to the countless similarities between yourself and others that you would never have noticed while just thinking about it. So, trust your gut, step outside of the known, and just do it. All it takes is one click.


Today marks the end of my 12th week in Thailand. I originally made the decision to move abroad to a foreign country because I wanted to do something different and stand out among other recent college graduates, and I thought that teaching in Thailand would do exactly that. I was afraid that if I stayed in America I would fall into the same routine that many others fall into after graduation. Working a steady 9-5 job and living for the weekends are things that I actively opposed and eventually made a large impact in my decision to come here.

This teaching adventure has shown and taught me more about myself that I could have ever hope it would. Being pushed outside your comfort zone is truly the best way to learn about yourself and see how you respond in certain situations. Even though this transition to a new culture and way of life has been difficult at times, I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to struggle. Even the simplest things like calling a taxi or ordering food have taught me more about myself and how I respond in certain situations than I ever could learn in America.

This morning the coordinator at my school asked the foreign teachers about renewing our contracts and staying for another semester. I have been contemplating, praying, and talking with my friends and family about the idea and possibility of staying here in Thailand for another semester or returning home to see what is in store for me there. I now have one week to finalize this decision.

Seeing and participating in my friends’ lives on Facebook has made it difficult to be away, but it has also clearly shown me that what happens at home will continue to happen even when I am away. You never realize how little things change until you leave. I have always felt this during my time away in college, but being thousands and thousands of miles away has proven this point 100%. Life continues and goes on even when you are not there, but when you return it will be as if you never left.

The decision to stay or go has to do with many factors: time, money, opportunities, and whether or not I am continuously growing. Whether I am in Thailand or Boston or Nashville, I always want to be in a position where I am growing in every aspect of life: mind, body, and spirit. Once I feel as if this is no longer true, I know that it is time to change and seek a new place for my continual growth. So, does this mean that I am packing my bags, boarding a 24 hour flight, and heading home? I’m not sure. I have 1 week to finalize my decision and essentially map out the next year of my life.


Christmas Break

Currently, I am sitting in my little bungalow relaxing after a long day on the beaches in Ao Nang, Thailand. The foreign teachers at my school were given over a week off to celebrate Christmas and the New Year while students are taking their mid-terms. I know I should feel a little guilty that my students are working hard on their tests, but the white sand, 90 degree weather, and clear blue waters are

Ao Nang, Thailand

Ao Nang, Thailand

making it hard to do so.

This year is the first time that I will not be making it home to spend Christmas with my family. As hard as it is to not be there for the family festivities, being on the beaches in Thailand makes it a bit easier. To be honest, it doesn’t even feel like Christmas time at all. If my computer and phone didn’t have a calendar I wouldn’t even know today is Christmas Eve.

For the rest of the week, we will be snorkeling, laying on the beach, and jumping around to different islands in the area. It is a blessing to be able to have this opportunity to relax and recuperate for teaching the rest of the semester. It is crazy to think that this is the halfway point of my journey here in Thailand. I am  continuing to soak it in and enjoy every little moment. I cannot wait for the next two months and the many more amazing opportunities that will present itself. Continue to check back as I enjoy the vacation and start the second half of the semester.

Merry Christmas from Thailand!