I never would have thought that spending a holiday away from home would have been THIS hard. Thanksgiving was not the same this year. There was no turkey, no mashed potatoes, no green beans, or even pumpkin pie. Instead, I ate rice (what else is new?) and broccoli. It didn't feel right. But I made the most of the situation. I decided to at least teach about the wonderful holiday. Many of my P1 and P2 students had never heard of the holiday. I showed them pictures of the different types of foods that we eat and explained how it's a day to share all the things you are thankful for. What I didn't expect was how difficult it would be to explain the word thankful. None of the kids got it. So instead, I told them it's a day to share all the things you love. Immediately, they started shouting out all of the things they loved. We quickly brainstormed on the board about the things my students were thankful for. They then colored their own turkeys and wrote down a list of things they were thankful for. This year, I am thankful for my students and this incredible experience that is teaching me so much about life. I may have missed out on the turkey and pumpkin pie, but my students made up for it.
Every other Thursday, I have school duty. This means I have to get to school at 6:30 am and roam around the basketball court and watch the students who play and run around, making sure that no one gets hurt. The morning shift lasts until about 8:00am, when assembly starts. School duty picks back up around 3:30, when school ends. Some students go home, but many stay. They start to head home around 5:30 and most are gone by 6/6:15, when I finally get to go home. At first, I wasn't too happy about this added responsibility. But as I thought about the positivity in school duty, I realized that it was more time that I got to spend with these wonderful kids. It's more time that I get to learn about them as individuals. I cherish these moments with my students. It allows me to get to know them on a deeper level. I even get to meet kids who I don't have in my classroom. Last week, my students joined me and made me beautiful pictures. I was able to give them some words to spell to practice their English - they absolutely love learning about this language and the American culture.
My students just finished their school fair performance. It was my job to pick a song and choreograph and dance to teach my P1/1 students. So of course, what did I pick? Let It Go, from Frozen!! To my surprise, some of the students had heard of the song, but didn't know the lyrics. Then there were others who had absolutely no idea what they were listening to. We spent the first few classes learning the song. Before our English lesson, students would practice singing the song. Once they mastered the lyrics, it was time to learn the dance. This was the biggest challenge. To teach students lyrics and a dance? Nearly impossible. BUT we did it! After weeks and weeks of practice, it was show time! One student gave an introduction, and another a closing statement. I was so proud of my students. Not only was I proud of them, but they were proud of themselves! Some pictures from rehearsal and the day of the performance!
Koh Samet by Day
Koh Samet is a beautiful island off of Rayong, about 3 hours south of Samut Prakan. It was worth every minute. Mandy and I met up with our friends Ariana and Kathryn in Bangkok and took a 12 person van down to Rayong. From Rayong, we took a songthaew to the ferry! Before hopping on the ferry, we stopped at the cutest coffee shop for iced lattes and nutella toast! We then made our way to the ferry and enjoyed the beautiful 30 minute ride to Koh Samet. From the dock, we took another songthaew to our hostel, Sabai Sabai. What attracted me to this hostel? The name. Sabai means happy, a time when everything is relaxed and meant to be enjoyed. The definition of the Thai culture. We immediately dropped off our bags in the room and changed for the beach. Because Koh Samet is a national park. we had to pay a 200Baht fee to enter the beach. Man, this place was BEAUTIFUL and by far my favorite place so far. Everything was so tranquil and slow moving. We adventured through two difference beaches via songthaews. Dinner was on the beach. I enjoyed some som tam and pad thai, while listening to the ocean waves crashing along the shore.
Koh Samet by Night
After dinner, we made our way back to Sabai Sabai to freshen up. We started the night by going to a fire show on the beach. Hundreds and hundreds of people gathered around and watched two men spin fire torches around in circles. The result was beautiful and so incredibly magical. The show lasted about 15 minutes. After the show, we were making our way to meet up with a few more friends. On our way, we made a slight detour and ended up singing karaoke in front of about 50/60 Thai people. They were cheering us on, some even joining us up on the stage. Safe to say, we were a hit!! We ended the night with a neon party at a local bar! Oh yes, and my shoe broke. What fun!
Koh Samet by Morning
After only a few hours of sleep, I made my way to the beach to see the sunrise. I spent this quiet time to myself, truly learning to appreciate everything life has to offer. The good, the bad, the bright and the dark. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." Man, God is SO good. Look at this beautiful sunrise in Koh Samet!
I spent Friday morning sulking around school. This was my first birthday away from home. Away from my friends. Away from my family. And I was feeling the distance. I was so sad. But to my surprise, my co-teacher showered me with love. She pulled some of my students aside to sing me happy birthday while dancing around with balloons, bought me an ice cream cake, and even a small gift. This instantly turned my mood around. The love in Thailand is so strong. My birthday weekend was off to a great start!
Immediately after school, Mandy, Shane, Adriana and I made our way to the Bangkok Bus Terminal, where we then made our way to Lopburi, about 2.5 hours north of Bangkok. Once we got to Lopburi, this truck offered to drive us to our hostel. So we did it! Oops, sorry mom! We dropped our stuff off at the hostel and walked around to find food, but everything was closed. So what do you do when there's nothing to eat? You go to 7/11 and get toasties!! Basically a grilled cheese with ham - so yummy! We woke up the next morning and met up with more friends, Ariana, Emily, and Kathryn. Crazy, crazy us decided that rather than taking taxis around Lopburi, we should drive ourselves... VIA MOTOR BIKES! Again, sorry mom! BUT I did wear a helmet. We rented the bikes, and drove about 40 minutes to the sunflower fields! Man, these flowers were huge and so so beautiful! We snacked on some sticky rice and enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day surrounded by sunflowers. Night time, I was showered in more love! My friends got me some cake and champagne! We ate a yummy dinner and finished the night off in a night market! The next morning, we visited some monkey friends! Thankfully, none attacked me! Lopburi, you were a huge success and made my birthday weekend one to remember! Here's to 24 and an amazing year to come!
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