Living the dream | Praya Nataya Lundberg | [email protected]


Translator: Marta Palacio
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi everyone, my name is Praya Lundberg. I’m an actress and model
in Thailand; that’s what I do. I struggle with introducing
my occupation to people. It makes me nervous. I like to watch people’s reactions. I either get a weird smirk,
or I can tell they’re thinking, “Yes… Is that what you do?” Especially abroad,
people don’t know who I am, they’re like, “Seriously?
Are you paying your bills OK?” But when I was at NIST,
my name was actually Nataya Lundberg I’m the girl with the hair
covering my face. I have no idea why I chose that hairstyle
for my yearbook photo. Thankfully, I dress
a little bit better now. My experience at NIST was
a little bit different to everyone else’s that’s why I’d like to share it. I can tell you that most of you in here
don’t realize how fortunate you are to be able to receive an education that is not only a quality
and professionally-organized education, but also a beautiful,
multinational, multicultural education. Just look around us:
how many nationalities do you see? How many languages
do we speak between us? We are taught not only to embrace this
naturally but to grow from it. Prevailing global issues such as racism,
we would never even understand. I think that’s a beautiful thing. That’s something you all have to keep
with you for the rest of your life. My time at NIST was not
the easiest time, I have to admit, and me coming up here to talk about it
isn’t the easiest thing for me. I started acting and modeling
at the age of 14, in year 8. I was spotted at a mall on Sukhumvit
and signed my contract two months after. My parents had no idea
what would transpire for the next ten years. But they were supportive
of my career path and my education. My typical day at school
would be waking up at 6 a.m., going to school at 7:30, going through the IB, going to class,
finishing class at 3, and then afterwards, going straight to a film set
working from 12 to 1. I worked on weekends,
I worked on school holidays. High-school was lonely for me.
It stressed me out a lot. I was envious of my friends. I wished I could do things
without being in the spotlight, making mistakes
like normal teenagers could. But looking back in hindsight, I couldn’t be more thankful
for that opportunity because it taught me to exercise
strong self-discipline from a very young age. With my job, if I don’t show up on set not only do I let down 200 people,
nothing happens! There would be huge
financial consequences, no one can substitute for me. If I’m sick, they have a saying in my job,
“Unless you’re dead, you better show up. Trust me, I’ve had an IV taken
out of my hand and dragged back on set when I was dying. Yeah, the cons of my job. But I’d like to say
that NIST was so supportive. That’s a great thing
about being in this as a student. They’re supportive of your dreams. Whatever your dream is, they make sure
that you can achieve your dream and at the same time,
get a great education. After that, my parents
sent me to university in the UK, and I was able to study
without the pressures of having to work, without having to think
about being an adult anymore. I was able to learn and grow. For some of you,
that’s happening really soon, so I just want to say:
enjoy your college years. They’re the best years of your life.
I promise you that. When I moved back, I changed my negative emotions
about my job to positive ones. I can tell you that when you do what you love,
and you have gratitude, you achieve so much more with your life. Whatever you’re doing,
try to make it a positive experience, even if it’s hard right now. even if you’re doing your IB exam soon,
and you think, “God, it’s hard.” Make it a positive thing,
and you’ll do so well. Recently, I went to a temple
with my manager, in Lopburi. It is a Buddhist temple
that takes care of AIDS patients. We were visiting temples within the area,
and I decided to go to this one. We brought small donations. When I say small, I mean nothing special. It was snacks for 60 patients. They took me to the terminally ill ward. As I approached the third patient
lying in his bed; he was frail, thin. I don’t think he’s moved
in a very long time. He can’t pick up a spoon when he’s hungry,
go to the bathroom when he needs it, or even take a walk on a nice sunny day;
things that we take for granted daily. When I was walking up to him,
I felt a sense of fear, I’ve never had that kind of fear. As my hand touched his hand,
I said in Thai, “I’m sorry for disturbing your rest time.” He looked back at me
with so much generosity, and said, “No, your smile has made my day.” I held back my tears because I thought, “God, everything that I looked
and reflected in my life that I thought was so important,
all comes down to nothing.” In a split second, he changed my life. I’m thankful for that. I think from that moment onwards, my goal and purpose
in life should be different. We should not only
just chase success, chase money. That’s what I do, but I think life –
there’s so much more to it. I think giving back to the community
is something that we should all do. It doesn’t have to be about money,
it doesn’t have to be something big, it could be something small, even doing something nice
to your neighbor. I’m not here to tell you I’m perfect;
I’m not a saint, trust me. If you’d seen the Thai tabloids,
you’d know. I’ve done so many things
in my life I’m not proud of and my parents aren’t either. But I’m human, and the thing about being human
is that you have the ability to learn, grow, and reflect
from your mistakes. Being human means that every day you have the choice
to be compassionate, to be kind to yourself
and everyone else around you. I would tell you that from today onwards,
someone is going to do something to you that will hurt you,
that will disappoint you; someone will embarrass you;
it’s happened to me a million times. But don’t let that harden you,
let it soften you. Let it open your heart up
and change you for the better so that you can be the change
that you wish to see in the world. I’m going to leave you
with a quick end note from one of my favorite books. I didn’t read this book in high-school, I picked it up at the airport
a couple of years back. I picked it up because it was
on the best-seller list, and it was the smallest one. So I said, “That’s the one I’m going for.” It’s called “Tuesdays with Morrie”
by Mitch Albom. It’s about a guy who goes back
and sees his sociology teacher, who was terminally ill with ALS. They have discussions
about love, money, and regrets. The teacher says, “So many people walk around
with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep even when they are busy
doing things they think are important. This is because they are chasing
the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life
is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself
to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something
that gives you purpose.” I couldn’t agree with it more. I’ve been working for 12 years,
I still don’t know what I want, but I know that I feel happiest
when I have a purpose. This is the first time I’ve come up
and shared a personal experience. You don’t do that often with my job,
you’re taught to have a wall. I’d like to say the thing
that makes me happiest that I’m an actress is that of all the years I’ve worked,
and all the exciting years to come, I have a voice. I have a voice to share my thoughts,
my visions, my passions, and hopefully, make
a positive change in the world. I’d like to say that I don’t know
where you all will end up in life, but I hope that you find your voice, and you make your voice powerful,
you make it strong, but at the same time,
you make it kind, you make it gentle. You have a voice
with the intention to listen. Let your voice change the world. Thank you. (Applause)

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