Friday, December 30, 2011

Sawadee Bee Mai!

Here is to what has been the most monumental & best year of my life to date: Bringing in 2011 with all my best college friends in New York City, an incredible whirlwind of a last semester of college, good times which have become fond memories in 111 Hudson, the stereotypical spring break with 30 of my friends in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Senior Week & graduation celebrations, clocking 50+ hours a week at Moosewood Restaurant, backpacking around Europe for a month with a very important person, spending time with friends and family for my last month in the states, and moving across the world to Thailand. And here is to an unbelievable first three months here: instantaneous bonds with friends from all over the world, surviving the TEFL course with those friends, traveling while schools were delayed due to the flooding, moving to my new home in Sriracha, beginning my job as an English teacher, making new friends (that English teacher bond everywhere), learning, observing, & participating in the Thai way of life, and the on-going adventures and exploration that make me never want to leave this place! For five months of the year I was homeless - renting a space, traveling, here, there, everywhere. It is nice to have a place to call home; and I truly do feel at home here. 2011 was huge for me, but I do have a feeling there will be some competition in 2012!

I am off to ring in the 2012 with good friends on the beautiful beaches of Koh Chang (Elephant Island)! Best wishes to all. Happy New Year / Sawadee Bee Mai!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

6.5 Random Musings

1. What you do now? Shoot, I mean...what are you doing now?
I am beginning to notice the longer that I teach English, the worse my own English is becoming. It has become such a habit to speak in the simplest manner to convey understanding to my students and Thai friends/co-workers, that I often find myself omitting verbs or tenses. While this is usually done purposefully in certain situations, I have caught myself unintentionally speaking improperly many times.

2. Slow down everyone, you're moving too fast!
I've always been a very fast-paced walker. Perhaps because of my short stature, I feel as if I need to compensate. My father and I always naturally walk 300 yards ahead of my slow-paced sister and mother. My friends constantly have to remind me to "stop running!" The first two months of being here, I had no patience for walking behind the painfully slow Thai locals. For such small people, they manage to take up the entire sidewalk, making it impossible to pass.

No one is ever in a rush here. Nothing, and I mean nothing, starts on time. My 50-minute class periods are never actually that long. Students (and teachers) are always 10-25 minutes late. The class schedule seems to be a mere suggestion. This is commonly referred to as "Thai" time. A Thai co-worker told me they say "Farang time" (foreigner time) for a strict appointment.

After nearly three months here, I find myself moving slower, happy to walk at a comfortable pace behind the natives. And you know what? Life is so much more enjoyable when are aren't in a rush all the time! I actually have time to look around, enjoy my surroundings and appreciate life a bit more. What is the rush anyway? Why is everyone in the Western world always running around everywhere?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Srirachan Citizen

I am settled into my new home and into the daily swing of things; I am a working, contributing and (mostly) functioning member of Sriracha, Chon Buri!

The first week of school was painfully slow & sweaty. Well into the third week now, I have my routine and am mostly adjusted to teaching in the SE Asia humidity with no air-conditioning. The weeks are beginning to fly by, especially when overshadowed by continuously exciting weekend plans. I am enjoying my experience as the only foreign teacher at Surasakvittayakom School. Without a syllabus, resources, or any direction whatsoever, I am having a pretty good time just wingin' it. My 24 different classes all have a tremendous variation of English knowledge, although overall it remains pretty poor. My "beginning" level classes are rowdy and often difficult, so I try to focus on very very basic English with something to keep them busy. My "intermediate" and "advanced" classes are by no means very good at English. I classify them into these categories because they know slightly more vocabulary and are more motivated to learn, which allows room for more creative lessons. The students that do put forth the effort make teaching worthwhile. Some students come to my desk to practice speaking English outside of class, which easily makes my day. This week I've been playing charades with my students which they absolutely light up with excitement over, making it all too fun for me as well!
[My top level Mattayom 5 Class; equivilent to 11th grade]