While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for our newsletter.

To purchase the music of So Is Life and Beged Kefet," visit jonahmac.org/music.

The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations. Our Federal tax ID # is 45-1736178.


Silver Learnings: Laurel Dreskin

These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.



Laurel Dreskin is a kindergarten teacher working in Bangkok, Thailand. She moved across the world to follow her dreams to teach in Thailand. Laurel has a passion for teaching young children through hands-on learning and collaborative play. She’s Ellen and Billy’s niece.

*          *          *

Laurel Dreskin

I found it so difficult to write this because I thought that I’m not special nor important so why would someone want to read what I have to say, but I realized that maybe if I wrote about my experience that others could find a connection in their own life.

I began my journey to Thailand in July 2019 after just finishing my undergrad in Tallahassee, Florida. I would have never expected to be living on the complete opposite side of the world far away from my family and friends, the people who mean the world to me, but this is just where my journey begins.

I’ve been living in Thailand for two years going strong but that doesn’t mean I haven’t faced challenges along the way. To the eye, I might seem like a strong and independent young woman, but on the inside I have many weaknesses too. First off, moving to a place where you know absolutely nobody and, second, the language. I did not learn Thai before moving here. Call me crazy but now. looking back. I am glad I didn’t learn how to speak the language prior to moving here.

At first I thought, “Laurel, what did you get yourself into?” But soon I realized that everything happens for a reason and I need to embrace those things. I remember my first “Aha” moment when I was teaching my homeroom students about Solids, Liquids and Gases. Seeing their eyes light up and their hands instantly want to touch the objects was such a surreal moment to witness and, with time, these moments became the reason I was excited to get out of bed each morning. Each day my love for the children grew; their excitement for my classes and their eagerness to know what I was teaching that day made me smile ear to ear.

Everything was wonderful but then the pandemic began, and that’s when I felt like my purpose to teach didn’t matter anymore. We went from in-person to online, and I’m sure other teachers understand how difficult a transition this would be. Kindergarteners online was certainly a challenge but we were able to find unique ways to engage our students. Still, it was not the same. Getting to teach these young learners whose minds are always expanding and eager to learn more had been truly one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

If you ask anyone how their life has been in this pandemic, everyone will have different answers. But in my opinion there is one common factor: self- growth. If we take a step back and we look at ourselves from where we were at the beginning of the pandemic and now, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve each become a different version of ourselves whether that was for the good or the bad. We’ve developed into someone who has the ability to achieve so much because we took the steps to get there.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered living alone. I continue to learn things not only about myself but the Thai culture and people around me. For the longest time I was saying my apartment address wrong and, it turns out, I was saying something very inappropriate instead. This one example not only helped me continue each day to grow and become a better person, but it’s allowed me to teach others too. I’m still finding myself and putting this down in writing was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in a while. What I’ve been through these past two years has really shown me that mistakes are opportunities to move forward.

I learned not to innocently trust others just because someone is nice to me. This was really a wake-up call because I felt naive and young in so many instances. People I met were constantly shocked by my age and surprised that I lived alone in a different country than my family as this is something not as common in Thai culture. I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive and loving family who continue to support my growth, even through my mistakes.

I think if each of us can accept and embrace our errors in life rather than becoming discouraged, we would all grow together. When I teach my students, instead of correcting them and telling them they did something wrong I first explain, “Maybe you can try it a different way.” I say, “Don’t worry about the mistake you made. Teacher Laurel makes mistakes all the time!” When I express this to my students, that it’s only natural to make mistakes, I can really see independent learning blossom inside them.

My journey here in Thailand is far from over. Well, who knows where I’ll be next, but I’m thankful for the people in my life, those who have helped me and those who have wronged me. I’m grateful for them all because I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.

Laurel Dreskin

4 Responses to “Silver Learnings: Laurel Dreskin”

  • Lauren Levinson:

    I’m so proud of you Laurel…you’re a courageous and loving young woman who made the commitment to not only “do well, but to do good!” Being able to recognize your mistakes as opportunity for growth, is a level of maturity some of us take much longer to realize. Your students are so lucky to have you and your gifts will bloom in them for life. Be well. With Love, Lauren

  • Barbie Alderman:

    A beautiful, sincere and real account of life for you as a teacher in Thailand. As your friend and big fan, I’m so happy you are finding joy in your professional life! I applaud you for taking big chances and know that you will look back at this time of your life with extreme pride for all you’ve experienced and accomplished! Rock on, Laurel! Love you!!

  • Mesy:

    That line where you wrote, “We’ve each become a different version of ourselves whether that was for the good or the bad,” touched my soul. Sooo true, girl!

  • Marissa:

    Laurel, you are an amazing person and teacher! Your students are fortunate to have you!

    Much love x

Leave a Reply for Mesy