Thailand, Bless her Heart

Untitled So my southern roots have taken me all the way to Thailand and prepared me quite nicely--direct quote “it doesn’t matter how much you teach your students or what you teach them or even the grades they make at the end of the semester (all thai students always pass, no one ever fails)--what really matters is how you present yourself and how much the director likes you.”
Bottom line, bless her heart is not just a southern saying in thai it translates directly to mai pen rai-- aka no worries/we think you are an idiot, we smile and laugh but we are all about “saving face” so we will not embarrass you now, not just yet..maybe later once you are gone-- classic bless your heart style.

We have now met Teacher Becky, Ajarn Prem, the director and all the fellow farang teachers. There are eleven new farang teachers: 5 in the EP (english/most expensive/best program) 5 in the JR (intermediate) and 1 in the Regular program (worst off & free for the students). Our school is very large and very well known for its English Program. There are over 200 teachers total and about 40 farang teachers (not all from the US--it is a mix).

All of the girls from my program are in the EP school--which is great! We have AC, smart boards, powerpoint and tons of parent involvement--which we’ve been told at times can be
overwhelming. As we rode from Bangkok to our city in a small van-- hot, tired and swished together on a bench seat our coordinator Ajarn Prem discussed salary, job descriptions and our fate for the next year.

No contracts, no interviewing, just one look and decisions were made. There was one position open and they needed someone staying for a year to fill the position because it was the most demanding and the teacher stays with one class all day and makes up more lesson plans etc. The other positions were 3rd, 4th, 5th grade and we rotate classes. Prem picked Helen to teach the harder position and increased her salary a good bit. It was an interesting experience, because we really didn’t have much say in the matter. Then the rest of the positions were up for grabs and they told us to just decide amongst ourselves who wanted which class. Very bizarre and very different than what we are accustom to.

The director of the school has been such an interesting component of the last two days. I imagine this is a small scale idea of what Thai royalty is like. He is very important and we must make sure we are polite, wai correctly and smile, nod and kah. Never ever turn your back when he is in the room and just keep smiling even when it’s all in Thai. Prem our coordinator does some of the translating, but he only speaks Thai even though he manages one of the largest english program schools in the region.

But back to my southern rooms--my mother would be proud. I was applauded on the fact that when asked if we had anything else to say or ask the director (as he just kind of awkwardly stood there and like I said he only speaks Thai so we just smile and nod..) I said “thank you for lunch, it was very good.” And immediately, his eyes and the coordinator’s eyes lit up and then we had a 20 minute conversation about traditional thai food. Which was great--except that we are sitting in tiny thai 1st grader chairs (which are half the size of the american 1st grade chairs) and we still have millions of more topics to cover for our training. To insure that I don’t bring myself down again, I’ll just quickly say today was not a good day. I am much more of a do-er and I am so ready to get in the classroom and do. I am so tired of listening and sitting to other’s experiences and other’s suggestions. It has been beneficial, but it is time to TEACH! And thank goodness only 1 more day and we will be teaching.

As of this morning I thought I was teaching 4th grade, but then our coordinator used the My Big Fat Greek Wedding trick and now even though it was our decisions on what grade we will be teaching--I am teaching kindergarten (hmm..not sure how that happened?). Mai pen it up thailand.

So the honeymoon stage has worn off a bit and I’ve had to step back and take a breather. Chonburi is hot and that means you don’t want to be outside walking around any time between 9-5pm and you don’t want to be in your apartment during that time either because that means you need your AC which = a larger/more expensive utility bill. I haven’t had that hard of time adjusting to the physical heat and humidity, but the sun is incredibly hot. It is so much hotter and more powerful than the sun at home.

And I’ve been so hot sleeping at night. I’ve tried my very hardest to just use the AC fan and not use the AC. It does cool off at night (which is surprising, because summer nights in the south often don’t), but I can’t seem to get a good draft in my room so even with the windows open the room is still and hot and I’ve been dying and sweating. So tonight I broke down and turned it on and cranked up the ac--phenomenal sleep finally!! And this is the “cool” season. I thought about opening my door to the porch and hoping that would create some wind flow but then realized that is an easy way for a gecko to get in and these geckos aren’t as friendly as the geico commercials and they are hard to catch once they dart into your room.

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