Broadening Her Horizons


Samara’s Our Girl

Just over five years ago we were lucky enough to have Samara join us at Stave Puzzles. A talented artist who turned out to be a natural cutter, she fit right in. After a few years of crafting puzzles, Samara began drawing silhouettes and edge designs which quickly led to designing Teaser puzzles, like Your High-ness, and Giant Dilemma. We tried our best to keep her busy and mentally stimulated but after four years, Samara got itchy feet and decided she needed something new. She’s been doing some exciting stuff and we thought you might enjoy hearing her tell about her recent adventure.

From Samara

Leaving Stave was very hard. It is one of those rare 9-5 jobs that allow you to express your creativity on a daily basis. My co-workers became my Stave family and I made important lifelong friendships. The decision to leave came down to this: a 9-5 job just isn’t for me. Routine makes me feel bored and lethargic, which affects my creativity in a negative way. To my surprise, everyone was very supportive of my desire to pursue my art career, which made it easier for me to leave.

Many wish to travel the world, and some never get to fulfill that wish. I decided I needed to act on my dreams so that I never had to say “I regret not traveling when I was younger.” I was 27, had no relationship or children, and I had left Stave 6 months before to pursue a career as a freelance artist. Basically, I was as free as my financial situation would allow. I made the decision to go to Thailand to teach english for a year. I signed up with a program called Language Corps, and obtained a certificate that allowed me to teach English abroad.

For most people, including myself, the thought of moving all alone to a different country is scary.

I knew I would be out of my element in a place where no one speaks English, or so I thought, so I chose Thailand because I had a good friend living in Bangkok. Already knowing someone took away the anxiety I may have had about finding a place to live because I stayed with her and her husband until I found a job, then an apartment.

I truly lucked out on my chances here. Within a month of arriving, I found a job teaching conversational English at Chang Sin College, an art school in Bangkok, for kids ages 15-18. “My kids” are incredibly talented artists who are just awful at speaking English, but that doesn’t stop them from being sly little devils who make me laugh as much as frustrate me. I’m really just teaching them the basics of English: “How are you?”, “Where are you going?”, “Why are you late for class?”, etc.

The Thai teachers really embraced me into their community, especially my boss, Achara, who I call my Thai mother. She translates everything for me, gives me advice and rides, helped me move to a new apartment, and generally looks out for my well-being. In return, I tell her the glasses she can’t find are on top of her head, and I work on learning Thai culture and how to properly pay respect to people when I meet them. In the Thai culture, when greeting another person, you wai them (pronounced like why) by putting your hands in a praying position in front of your face. Knowing how to properly wai can make the difference between an unhelpful store clerk and a store clerk who will make you sit down and do your shopping for you.

I’ve made many new friends from around the world. Friendships really can span the globe, with the bonus of having free places to stay in multiple countries! I also met a guy from Alaska whose best friend in college went to my high school and was a year behind me, proving that you really can go anywhere in the world and still be reminded of how small it can be.

I love how affordable everything is here. Nothing in my wardrobe cost more than $10, and I’ve had to cut myself off from buying shoes because I would have to buy another suitcase to get them home. I also love the traditional culture of Thailand. The fabric, houses, temples, and paintings are incredibly beautiful.

It will be hard to have to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here, especially my Thai mother. When I left on this journey, I shed tears because I would miss my friends and family. When I leave Thailand to go home, I know I may never come back, and some of my Thai friends are either too old or cannot afford to travel to the U.S. It will break my heart to leave them and I will cherish the friendship they gave me for the rest of my life.

When I talk about Stave, I still use the term “we”, and I have no plans to stop being a part of the “family” any time soon. In fact, I’m working on an alphabet series of puzzles that I hope to have finished up by this fall! Keep your eye out for them!



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