They like me! They ACTUALLY Like me!

I can’t believe how different it is teaching at Wharton now than it was when I first started. In the beginning I was questioning myself as a teacher: Was I too strict? Did I give unfair homework? Should I allow the students youtube time?
I was a nervous wreck. Students were quitting my class and complaining that I was too strict. But then, they started to come around. They did their homework, they tried harder to speak in English, and students were saying Hi to me outside of the classroom. When the semester was ending, my manager informed me that the majority of my students were requesting to have me teach them again.

A few of them got their wish, but with my promotion, I was brought upstairs to the Scholars (slightly more advanced) program. I saw some old faces (some of my favorites) and many new faces. Some had heard of me and some were unfortunate enough to have NEVER heard of me.

I have been revamping the Guru (library) program and helping the school director develop a new literature class. In Korea, middle school students may miss up to a month of class due to exams (similar to SATs… it helps them get into HIGH SCHOOL!? whoa). This past week, two of my students (favorites, ahem ahem) came in. I jokingly said ‘Oh I missed you boys!’ and they responded ‘We are so happy to be back, Teacher!’ ‘Yea! We missed you too! There’s much to talk about!’ I was shocked. ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘You actually missed me?’ They nodded and responded ‘Of course!’  — Wow. I was floored. So we sat and caught up a bit on the few weeks they missed. And since only two (of 5) showed up, we started to plan our monthly essay topic. This particular class offers incredible insight to controversial topics (see Alex’s essay). After a few minutes of topic ideas, we decided to write about a major event that occurred recently in Korea: the sinking of the Sewol ship. If you’re unsure of this news story, please consider moving out from your rock… google it – it’s a seriously horrible tragedy. —Topic: Following the tragic sinking of the Sewol ship, many Korean festivals and activities were cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives. Do you think, two weeks later, plans should still be cancelled or postponed (out of respect)? Support your opinion with reasons, details, and examples. ***Example, a Korean government worker was asked to cancel his family vacation two days before his departure (and two weeks after the sinking) to show the people of Korea that the government is paying respect to those lost*** — This is a serious topic and I only trust this class to handle the seriousness of it. I’m excited to read what they have to say.

Anyway – this week, my manager informed me that I would be taking over another middle school Scholars class. When I asked why, she replied that several students wanted to transfer into my class but couldn’t due to scheduling. Therefore, I get the entire class. Students are actually ASKING to be in my class? This is still flooring me.

And to boot – tomorrow is Teacher’s Day and one of my students just walked in and handed me a gift. 😀 I suspect this year ‘Teacher’s Day’ in Korea will be nothing like Wai Kru day (Teacher Respect day) in Thailand – where the students crawl on their hands and knees to present me with flowers.

I guess they like me here.

Kreative Koreans

benf

 

My students have to read nonfiction books. Then they have to write a creative story integrating the topic into the story. For example, Topic: Grand Canyon… so the setting is in the Grand Canyon. Tell a creative story and use some facts about what you read in the story.

 

K – Topic: Benjamin Franklin

Story Summary – “Benjamin Franklin is a very naughty boy.” (Whoa good start) He often gets into trouble for buying games without his parents permission. He tries to fight the biggest guy in school and loses, so of course they become best friends. Oscar, the big guy, wants to kill everyone at school except himself and Ben. So they build a bomb. But the teacher sees it and gets rid of it (somehow). The next day, she puts sleeping medicine in their lunch and slits their throats. Also… this book is not recommended by K because it is boring and Benjamin Franklin looks boring.

o.O  ?????

 

M – Topic: World Atlas

Story Summary – The air goes on an adventure around the world and sees cool sights. Being the air, it goes for free and flies around the world. It also manages to switch the time on Big Ben and confuse people until the top of the tower hits it and it gets hurt. Then it breaks off the nose of the Sphinx in Egypt. It is hurt again because “those rocks are really big.” So it goes home and tells of its adventures to its friend, the air (same name, no relation), and they decide to do it all over again even though it is dangerous to travel.

 

J – Topic: Motorcycles (((ps this is a girl who chose to write about motorcycles.. sweet)))

Story Summary – A racer buys an expensive motorbike and wants to race another racer. So the racer sees the other racer’s bike and is nervous because one bike goes 305 km/h and the other goes 306 km/h. HUGE difference. So number 03 and number 04 race and number 04 is winning until number 03 comes through and wins.

—-I have no idea which racer was which. She refused to name them or identify their numbers—-

 

 

 

The Low Down (like.. really low)

IF there is one actually a thousand thing that people overlook when traveling to Thailand, it’s the toilet situation. In most tourist places (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, etc) you’ll find the good old fashioned sit-your-ass-down toilet seat. But there is a little squirt gun (similar to what you find to do the dishes with) next to it. It’s there to spray your ass after you $hiT. And with all the curry and spicy food your body isn’t used to, it comes in handy. You’ll also find hopefully a trash bin next to the seat and you are expected to throw your toilet paper into it. Thai sewers aren’t quite as updated as our western ones are. Just respect the country and toss it in the bin.

BUTT – there is something else to warn you about. If you are like me and don’t go camping every weekend, or hike, or do the nature thing in general, If you are the type who will hold it until you get home (or at least somewhere you’re comfortable going to the bathroom at), some of the smaller towns and bus stations will come as a shock. You will politely excuse yourself from the table and find this stall that may or may not have a door attached. In the middle of the ground is a what looks like a metal toilet seat with ridges on the top. “Why is this toilet seat so low?” you’ll ask yourself.
.. it’s a squat toilet. You have to squat. Don’t work out? Too bad.

If you are a woman, you stand on the ridges facing the wall and squat down like a baby would to pick up a bug they found on the ground. Then you do your #1 and hope you remembered to bring the tissues. Should your bowels be a moanin’ and a groanin’ you will face away from the wall and squat (see previous description) and let it all out. And then hope you brought EVEN MORE toilet paper. And sanitary wipes. And a Glade scented candle.
When you have finished doing your dooody, you will (hopefully) see a trash bin with water filled in it. You will take the bowl that is floating in that water and proceed to ‘flush’ your by-product down the hole. A few good bowl fulls should do it. If not, you’re shit out of luck (ha!!).

It’s disgusting. Some people don’t mind. Some people say it’s better for your posture and blah blah blah. I will NOT miss this. I went 5+ months without having to use one of those bastards. Then I had a reallllly bad stomach one day during class and had no choice but to do the squat. And it was HORRIBLE. You may dribble on your shoes, you may miss, you may spatter, you may want to throw up. And no, you don’t get used to it. At least I didn’t.

My favorite quote concerning squatters: “F- that.”

Advice:

  • ALWAYS carry wipes or toilet paper
  • Have toilet shoes/sandals
  • carry hand sanitizer
  • avoid if at all possible
  • learn to hold it
  • wipe tiger balm under your nose before going in – it wreaks.

That’s the toilet story. I had to warn you, my cyber friends. Good luck.

Secrets of Surat Thani – a short movie by RTapps

Video

Walentie Day

V. Vvvvvv. Put your top teeth OVER your bottom lip and make the ‘v’ sound. VaaaalentiNe’s Day.

Okay yes.

No, make the sound please. Vvvvv. Double-U is a wuh wuh wuh sound with your lips – no teeth. USE your teeth.

V. Vvvv.

YES! perfect. Now, Valentine’s Day

Vvvvvvv walentie day.

*Blank stare* Okay, excellent work.

————-That is basically how my Valentine’s Day went with my 4 classes of different leveled Thai students.

But first. before all that. before the pronunciation and linguistic aspect came into play.. there was fun to be had.

If you say “Valentine’s Day” to primary school Thai students, it translates into a literally-not-literal translation: “Use every sticker you have to cover everything you have with.”

valentines

And they did.

It was a few moments before 10am and I had just gathered all the strips of paper for Valentine’s Day flower project. I was in a cheery mood, of course, and I walk up to my first class. To my FAVORITE class, of course (see MJ post). Before I made it to the door, I was bombarded. Stickers came out of nowhere. Big stickers, little stickers, pink, white, red, gold, hearts, animals, more hearts. They had no problem reaching up and putting them right on my chest. In fact, that seemed to be the prime location for this display. Big boobs = big heart? Nah. But whatever, I can’t do anything about it. So I go into the classroom and there are MORE students with MORE stickers. Thank goodness it was a long class. Because every student waited for stickers in return. So I pulled out the same stickers that I carry with me every day and started putting it on their cheeks. In return, they put them on my cheeks… and forehead, and neck, and hair.
I got them seated and showed them the project to do today.
They all said ‘Yay!’ and did the project. Some would come up to me randomly to ask a question and suddenly plant a sticker on my shirt. Others wrote notes that said “i love teacher’ and stuck those on my shirt too.
Their paper flowers turned out really nicely. They did a great job and I was proud of these lil buggers.

But alas, no other teacher got completely engulfed in stickers like I did.

The best part was getting my students to learn and sing ‘My Favourite Things’ from Sound of Music. And they sound lovely. 😀

Happy Walentie’s Day

Light One Up in Thailand

I really enjoy light, however. Thailand has some very pretty light things going on.

Their lanterns are fantastic. It’s amazing to see people celebrate their holidays with cool traditions like that. Thailand just celebrated a couple holidays recently: Loy Krathong and Father’s Day/King’s birthday. The lanterns filled the skies and turning into small specks amongst the stars. It reminds me a bit of Florida when the shuttle took off. Obviously those are completely different scenarios – I’ve probably offended some NASA people by comparing a lantern to a space shuttle – not my intention I ASSURE you.

But the way the light is so close and then just disappears really hits home. If you ever get the chance to send off a lantern, don’t pass up on it. (And if you’re in Hawaii, don’t pass up a lei – those things are fantastic.) You can get different kinds of lanterns too.. there are angry birds, angry pigs, doremon?, and zebra stripes, etc. So get creative with it!

I also reverted for a few minutes to my 5 year old self. I saw a firefly. A lightning bug. Amazing. They’re there and then they aren’t! It’s like magic. I was mesmerized by these little buggers. The Thai folk we were drinking with laughed quite a bit at my expense.. but I couldn’t care. How can one care when a bug that has a light-up butt be anything but the most important thing at that time?

The floating lanterns aren’t the only amazing light spectacles. All along the river the trees and light posts are lit up like christmas. There are these oversized and  ridiculous light fixtures on the side of the road. Some of bunnies that look a bit like a kangaroo, others are strange little people doing random things. I know that was very vague, but look at the pictures and you’ll understand.

There are some very cool lights, lamps, and lanterns all throughout Thailand and I love every moment of it. If you visit Thailand, make sure you take some of these light creations home. They’re not found in the US for sure.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

 

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Coffee shops

20130106-125108.jpg

Every traveller knows their favorite asset is knowing where the closest coffee shop is.

In Thailand I live in a southern city called Surat Thani. It’s the place that your guide book says to pass through without a glance back. I don’t blame it. But if by chance you find yourself here, here are a few coffee shop recommendations.

@Mycup is on Donnok Rd. it’s a two story adorable shop that offers hot, cold, and frozen beverages. There are a few sandwiches and snacks. There are lovely cakes and ice cream options also. The decor is a quaint collection of garden style seats and tables. The cabinets are filled with beautiful tea and coffee sets that are definitely only for display. The main display is covered in nonfunctional clocks and bicycles. Internet is available depending on the weather. The upstairs is more comfortable in the lounge type of feeling. There are Thai and English menus available. I highly recommend you try the Green Teacinno. The service and food quality rival each other in mediocrity.

ADay Cafe is on Chonkasem. It’s a large single floor cafe that is decorated in bright green and yellow walls. It’s frequented by Thai students as there are several schools around. The coffee is good and the service non existent. Once your order is placed you only are another grain of sand. While conveniently located its not my favorite place to frequent.

My newest coffee discovery is on a road that I ride on everyday and couldn’t tell the name of. It’s called Hom Coffee. It’s fairly new and undiscovered. It’s lovely. I walked in and was immediately greeted and given a verbal English menu. The shop is decorated with vintage knickknacks. I’m sitting at the table featured in the picture. It’s a block of tree trunk holding a glass table top displaying a Thai version of the Batman comics. My napkin holder is a pumpkin trickortreat bucket. My mocha yen (iced mocha) was great. The owner brought me almond wafer cookies and water as well as the wifi password. The terrible 80s style Thai pop was replaced with English R&B including songs by Otown and Destiny’s Child. The owner actually hummed some of the songs. It’s brilliant. It’s quiet and sweet. It will be frequented on weekends though due to their store hours mirroring my work hours 10-8pm.

If you come to Surat I recommend this spot but doubt you’ll find it. The easiest for visitors is probably MyCup.

Image

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: