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3 posts categorized "Angela Tiberi"

Back to school

    Back to school back to school to prove to dad I’m not a fool! Today was my first day teaching at the Saritdidet School in Chanthaburi, so that phrase has been stuck in my head all day (thanks Adam Sandler). The school is huge, and each grade is in a different building within the campus. I am teaching Prathom 3 and 4 (aka third and fourth grade), and I move around between 2 different third grade classrooms and 3 different fourth grade classrooms. I was able to pick between teaching first and second or third and fourth, and I happily chose third and fourth as my sister is a fourth-grade teacher in Delaware and I met my boyfriend in fourth grade (aww). All of my classes have around 40 children in them, which as you can imagine has already been somewhat difficult to manage.

    All teachers sign in at 7:15-7:30 in the morning prior to gathering in the dome gymnasium for morning announcements and the national anthem. All Thai people highly revere the king, and they are a bit of a nationalist country. There are pictures of the king absolutely everywhere. It is very common to have a picture of the king in front of your school, street, home, storefront, etc. So, the morning anthem is a big deal and is taken seriously every morning. This morning, all of the foreign teachers for grades 1 through 12 (there were about 9 of us) had to stand in front of the school and introduce ourselves. It was actually cute rather than nerve wracking once I looked out to see the hundreds of smiling Thai children with the same haircut and uniform waving back at me with excitement. The children here warmly respect their elders, and many of them would bow as they walked past me when I was sitting down as to not be taller than me (a sign of respect) or wai me (a less formal sign of respect where one bows with their hands pressed together in front of the face). It’s really cute how giddy they all get to see a new farang (white foreigner) teacher around school.

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Foreign teachers introducing ourselves to the hundreds of students (not nearly all pictured)

 

    My first class of the day was a third-grade class (known here as P3). When you walk in, they all stand up and wait for you to say the learned phrase “Good morning class,” to which they reply, “Good morning teacha!” Then the teacher says “how are you today?” and the students say “I’m fine thank you. And you?” and so on. This is a universal thing in Thailand, I’m really not sure who implemented it but I learned in orientation that it’s definitely a thing. I showed a PowerPoint about myself and asked them to make nametags with their nickname and their favorite animal. In Thailand, most kids go by an American nickname because Thai names are too long to pronounce. Most are random words, car names, etc. In my first class I had kids named Jigsaw, PeePee, Santa and Gun. These children love anything creative, so making their nametags as beautiful as possible took up a good 35 minutes of the class. After that I spent the leftover time singing songs like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” and playing Simon Says. There is some actual curriculum for the classes to work with for future lessons, which is nice. Some schools here in Thailand throw you in with absolutely no curriculum or knowledge of the skill level of your students. In my other classes I did about the same thing. One fourth grade class was especially flattering, and wrote compliments to me on their name tags. I’ll try not to pick favorites though…

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The outside of one of one of my P3 classrooms

 

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One of the student's name tags from a P4 class. Like I said, I"ll try not to pick favorites..

 

    Oh, did I mention it’s hot as all h*ll in this school? Some of the classrooms and offices have air conditioning, but I was told they don’t always have it on. As I write this in my office with beads of sweat dripping down my face, I’m assuming they haven’t turned it on at all.  Plenty of schools do not have air conditioning at all however, so I really can’t complain. At least it’s giving me more of a chance to really assimilate to the Thai way of life. I’m sure there are plenty of things I left out about the school and there will be plenty more school experiences to come so I will check back in a later post!

 

Sawatdee-kha!

 

Teacha Angie

(oh…did I mention I strongly dislike being called Angie? Well, that’s how Thai people say my name. Learning to embrace it :)

 

Buckets in Bangkok

    Warning: this post is going to be all over the place. Using your brain is hard when both jet lag and food poisoning are very real and don’t discriminate against any newcomer here. Orientation in Bangkok has come to a close and I am getting settled into bed on my second night in the province of Chanthaburi where I will be teaching. As I reflect back on the past week, it feels almost like a distant dream. Between the jet lag and the long days spent learning new information in a dimly lit and unnecessarily cold room, each day felt like 2 days by the time night came. Don’t get me wrong—orientation was great. I learned so much that I would not have if I had come here alone, and I made great friends. It was pretty easy for everyone to connect given the fact that we all just showed up to a foreign country alone with the shared goal of teaching. Plus the fact that we were staying in the same hotel and our days were planned out for us. The days were filled with classes about how to teach Thai, Thai language classes, functional classes about living here, and lots of food and coffee breaks (can never have enough coffee breaks). By the time night hit, we were on our own for dinner and even though we were all exhausted—most of us opted to go out and explore Bangkok. The hype is definitely true about the night scene, and sharing mojito buckets on Khao San Road definitely made for some fun-filled nights. Like the night 8 of us started a street-long dance party with 70+ people. Actually though, we did start it…I have progressive videos as proof. But the nights also made for some longer days (totally worth it). However, OEG planned out a boat dinner cruise in Bangkok and an overnight trip to Kanchananburi for us, so as far as exploring went we weren’t left completely on our own. The excursions were awesome, and even though the whole week was exhausting, that’s to be expected. Jet lag takes a few weeks to recover from, and inevitably learning how to teach English when you have never taught before while exploring a brand new city in one week is going to require a lot of energy.

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Street wide dance party started by some OEG gals (plus little boy who was selling bracelets...gave him 20 baht for his solid dance moves)

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When in Bangkok eat a scorpion, right?! Might not have been worth the stomachache...tasted like crunchy swamp water, but all about the experience

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Dinner cruise on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi

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OEG trip to the Grand Palace, which was absolutely incredible. Instead, here's a picture of me posing with one of the temples because my hair already matched the statues without even trying...humidity is REAL here and it's not friends with my hair. Hair ties and braids are a girl's best friend 

     I feel incredibly blessed to be here and I am having the time of my life enjoying this beautiful country, but be warned if you plan on teaching here—you will get a little home sick. I wouldn’t say the culture shock has been a thing for me, but I do find myself thinking about home a lot. I always prided myself on being independent and adventurous, not being “the type” to miss home. However, it’s almost impossible when you are on the other side of the world not to miss your boyfriend, friends, family, and the comfort of home. I was shocked at how quickly it hit me. But it hits you hard once you are alone in your new house and realize that this is your new life for a while. And it hits you harder when that feeling comes and you can’t go to anyone about it because they’re all in bed due to the 11 hour time difference. But again, this is to be expected and is at the end of the day exactly what I signed up for. For each new discovery I made in my town today (one being the amazing coffee shop down the road), some small sacrifice was also made to get to where I am. There will definitely be some give and take, but that is the beauty of this journey!

 

New blog post to come about my experience thus far in Chanthaburi and advice about packing / preparation!

 

Sawatdee-kah!

 

Angela

Today's the day!

This is it: today is the day I finally depart for Thailand! For as long as I have been looking forward to this day, it really feels like it snuck up on me.  As gathering documents and obtaining my visa were acquired a few weeks prior, I spent the past week saying goodbye to friends and family as well preparing for the trip. I mostly just had to gather last minute essentials, teaching materials, and teaching clothes. I found it difficult to decide exactly what to pack, so after I am settled in for a few weeks and see for sure what I wish I had packed and what I could have gone without, I will post a definitive packing list as I would have found that helpful. Right now I’m sitting in the Philadelphia airport, waiting to board my 12.5 hour flight to Qatar and my 6.5 hour flight to Bangkok. My emotions are definitely heightened as I prepare to embark on this dream that I set my sights on a long time ago. As I try to navigate through exactly what I’m feeling, excitement undeniably sticks out the most. I am beyond grateful to be granted this opportunity and I am so looking forward to the amazing experience it is going to be. I know there will be challenges and adjustments made as well, but for now I choose to giddily await the adventure ahead!

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