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Vacation Part 1: Happy Healing Home

Hello again world!  It sure has been a while.  My first semester of teaching ended mid-March, and I was kept busy grading exams and getting ready for many adventures!  Thailand's academic calendar is different from that in the United States, so my break that lasted from March to May was equivalent to a summer vacation.

The first part of my adventure was spent with my dad, who flew out to visit!  We traveled in Chiang Mai, an island called Koh Samet, and then I showed him around Chanthaburi, the town where I teach.  It was a great time that we managed to pack into just over a week!

After this I went and worked for ten days at the Happy Healing Home, an organic farm in the province of Chiang Mai.  This was a really nice experience!  Every morning we were woken up before 6am by the call of the roosters.  All volunteers had their own rhythms and interests, and thus sometimes worked on various different tasks. In the mornings I usually ground coffee beans and prepared coffee over the fire. After everyone was awake and had taken a cup of coffee or tea, we helped to prepare breakfast with fresh ingredients from the garden, and some mornings we did yoga and exercises before breakfast.  

Following breakfast we went out to work.  The work varied by day, and by individual.  Sometimes I worked on a building project, or took care of the buffaloes, or tended to the garden.  Working in the garden was definitely my favorite part.  I loved getting my hands dirty in the soil and learning about the plants and their nutritional or medicinal properties from Pinan Jim and Pinan Tea, the couple that runs the organic farm.  Working in the sun in the garden, always covered in dirt or water – I just felt so blissful surrounded by and caring for all of the plants that sustain us. The garden was certainly my happy place!

After a few hours of work we would return for yet another delicious meal. The food was honestly just phenomenal! Always super fresh and prepared with love.  After lunch we all rested for some time before the late afternoon work.  Usually during the afternoons I went out and collected grass for the buffaloes to eat.  And while it was a monotonous activity after doing it day after day, it was also very meditative, as were really all activities on the farm.  Working on the farm and constantly using my hands and physical energy, I always was focused on what I was doing right in that present moment. I realize when living in a city just how easy it is to get caught up in the craziness of life - always multi-tasking, always thinking about the future. But being able to really focus on and enjoy the present moment you are experiencing is very important, and is something I am making more of an effort to do in my everyday life. As Pinan Jim explained to us volunteers one day, not focusing on the present moment ultimately just detracts from your happiness.

In the evenings we had a light dinner, and then gathered around the communal area for tea, meditation, yoga, and listening to Pinan Jim play the guitar. During this time we conversed about various topics like Lanna culture, meditation, medicinal remedies – truly whatever you wanted to learn more about and discuss.

Overall it was quite a nice stay at the farm. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about a self-sustainable life of growing your own food and building your shelter, or if you are interested in gardening, permaculture, meditation, Lanna cooking, caring for animals, or simply if you want to get your hands dirty and do physical work. I would also suggest staying for a minimum of one week. It takes a few days to find your rhythm, so it is best to give yourself time to adjust and fully enjoy your stay. Staying on the farm required a lot of physical work as well, so be prepared for that! The living situation was very similar to camping. I had a small hut to live in with a mosquito net, mattress and blankets. The electricity was limited to lights in the common area – otherwise we were living completely off the grid! No refrigeration, fires made by hand for cooking, bucket showers, toilets where you flush by pouring a bucket of water into the toilet bowl, drinking water that came from a nearby well, filtered by a simple cloth over the faucet to catch any leaves, and of course no wifi! So it was definitely an adjustment, but also just a really lovely and peaceful experience of living the simple life on a farm in northern Thailand.

After my stay on the farm I met up with my friends Luke and Joey, and we went and saw Coldplay in Bangkok! And that was just such an awesome experience! Seeing one of my favorite bands live for the first time, and dancing and singing with great friends. It was such a memorable day!

Well that covers the first few weeks into my vacation – part two is coming soon! IMG_0918 IMG_0920 IMG_0925 IMG_0928 IMG_0953





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

a comfort zone is a lovely place, but nothing ever grows there

I like to think that I have a really good intuition. 

Sometimes, I just get these ideas in my head and once the thought enters my mind, I find it really hard to let go of it. At first, the ideas were subtle changes I wanted to make..like I should die my hair blonde (shout out to my college roommate for talking me through my tears and dying my hair back brown with a box dye - you're the best), I should move to the Seacoast, or I should study abroad in Germany, and most recently, I should quit my full-time job and go teach English in Thailand. Clearly, the magnitude of the changes has varied over the years, but the results are always the same. Change is terrifying, exhilarating, nerve racking and wonderful all at once, and I can't get enough of it. 

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If you're still reading this, my name is Alysha. Up until two weeks ago, I was an Assistant Store Manager for a grocery store chain in the Northeastern part of the United States called Hannaford (owned by Ahold-Delhaize for anyone out there in the grocery industry), and living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (picture snow and cold six months of the year). Now, I'm in sunny, sometimes swelteringly hot, Thailand, living in a coastal province in the Eastern region, where I'll be teaching English to 7th-9th graders.

Wait, I thought you just said you were a manager, not a teacher. And you would be correct in thinking that. The qualifications for teaching English in Thailand requires a Bachelor's Degree, and it does not have to be on with an education concentration. But, do you speak Thai? No, but I am trying like hell to learn. Props to an app called nemo Thai, I get daily notifications so that I can eventually say more than Sawatdee-kha and Khawb khun kha (Hello and Thank you). So how will you teach English if you don't speak the Thai? CIEE and OEG put together a week long orientation in Bangkok that kicked off my semester in Thailand! At orientation, I had classes on teaching English as a foreign language, Thai culture classes, language classes, etc.

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We visited the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, Death Railway, and went on two beautiful river cruises. Best of all, I was surrounded by all these wonderful, beautiful people who signed up for the same program! We all went to our respective placements yesterday, and I'm already missing them like crazy. My official first day at my new school, Banchangkarnchanakulwittaya School, is Monday and while I'm sure there'll be bumps and bruises along the way, I simply can't wait. 

Sooo..if you're starting to think, hey, that sounds like a pretty amazing opportunity to travel, enrich your life, cultivate new skills and build new relationships..then well, you're right! Tell yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to, and start researching how you can move overseas and teach English! Or better yet, comment with any questions or hesitations you may have. Every day is a new chance to reinvent yourself.

Stay tuned for more.. 

Alysha

 

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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34 Days Until Takeoff

Hi all. Nice to meet you over this wonderful thing we call the internet. I hope we'll get to know each other well over these next few months. I figure I should start off telling you a little bit about myself. I'm a 21 year old senior in college at the University of Dayton, otherwise known as Heaven on Earth. At UD I'm a group fitness instructor - it's one of my favorite things in the world. My major is in marketing and entrepreneurship with a minor in psychology. You might be wondering why in the world am I teaching English in Thailand if I'm a business student? Well, you aren't the first person to ask and I guarantee you won't be the last. So here's the story:

Last summer I had an internship in London (yes, England like with the queen and tea and crumpets). I absolutely fell in love with the company I worked for. And apparently, they fell in love with me too considering they offered me a job after I was only working there for 1 month. Pretty cool, right? I got to work at a company I loved in the city that stole my heart. Unfortunately, a few months ago I was informed that I would not be able to obtain a visa due to sponsorship issues (thanks a lot Brexit). After talking to my company for about a month trying to figure out a solution and a way to get me over there, we decided it would be best if I looked into other opportunities in the States.

But here's the thing; real life is overrated.

I looked into ways to travel at a low, preferably no, cost. That's when I saw that teaching English abroad was an option. I looked into CIEE, looked at the requirements and realized that I fit all of them. I decided to apply and to my surprise, I was accepted! I've always wanted to go to Thailand. Now I have the opportunity to live there for 4 months and actually make a little bit of money (or at least breakeven). Not only that, but I will also be able to completely immerse myself in the culture and learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

No, I do not speak Thai. No, I am not an education major. And no, I am not nervous, afraid, etc.

I've studied in Italy, worked in London, and traveled all over Europe. One of the biggest lessons I learned, after how delicious authentic Sangria is, is that you can't have any expectations. Going out of your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I went to London not knowing anyone. I made some great friends while I was there, fell head over heels in love with the city, and came back a more confident person.

I'm set to take off for Bangkok on June 4th, in only 34 days. While I'm there, I'll be reporting back about my experiences, the culture, and the minor misfortunes that are sure to find me along the way.

So stay tuned...I'm just getting started!

25 Days and Counting!

  In twenty-five days I will be embarking on my Teach Abroad adventure in Thailand!  I will miss my Deer Creek Family and current third graders, but, I look forward to  living and teaching in the beautiful country of Thailand!  I am ready for the challenge and I expect the unexpected!  My suitcases are packed with my passport, teaching materials (posters, children's books, stickers), teaching clothes, swimsuits, sunscreen, Go Pro, bug spray, photographs, camera, and much more!  Below is my classroom in Tigard, Oregon.DSCN2469

5 Underestimated Truths of Teaching Abroad

This will be my final post, even though I could talk endless amounts about this experience, and I want to leave a reflection about the majority of what I was feeling during my last week in Thailand.

1. Everything changes

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Photos taken: West Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach, Krabi

Your perspective of the world, yourself, your place in the world… everything. It’s beautiful. I stopped wearing makeup as often; I wasn't afraid to stick out or fit in; I found my focus shifting towards things that really matter.

2. The country isn’t how its perceived by people who have never been there

 

My students' performance embodying the experience of losing their King

Living in a place is completely different than any amount of photo scrolling or video watching. It’s the same comparison to learning from a textbook versus learning from experience. Both are good, but you can’t fully comprehend the reality and full truth until you experience it! Moral of this story: go to Thailand!!!

3. You’re a real teacher, so you impact the students accordingly

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If you come for one semester — especially if you teach older students — they’re craving consistency, and the students might even have abandonment issues with teachers coming and going. It’s hard for me to include this one, but even though you may see it as a means to travel, your students see you as their teacher.

4. Leaving is painful

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My seniors gave me this with a heart-felt "thank you" message on the last day of school [followed by a group hug]

That being said, leaving is incredibly hard to cope with. There’s guilt from the realization that you’re ditching your students when you can see that a consistent teacher would benefit them. There’s love for your students that you didn’t think was humanly possible for someone else. There’s a sense of loss when you have to say goodbye to that. There’s simply the feeling of missing the individuality, personalities and charm, of not only your students, but your coworkers and new friends as well.

5. You miss out on things at home

When I thought about coming abroad, I felt like this was better than anything else going on at home, and I didn’t think I’d feel like I really missed anything. I figured, if I missed anything at all, it would feel minor and that my present life would feel way more exciting. The reality is that you can miss things like an election, the Cubs winning the World Series after 108 years, and marching for women’s rights. You have to be ready to lose touch with these events that will inevitably happen while you're gone. However, if you’re like me, the pros of going abroad outweigh the cons of missing out on things at home.

One of the many reasons I chose to move to Thailand - to go to an elephant sanctuary!

I can’t convey how hard it was to leave Thailand, my coworkers and new friends, and my students. It was so hard that I knew I might pull a Rachel Greene and not get on the plane… except, instead of Ross, my love is Thailand. I felt like, if I didn’t know the next time I’d be back to SE Asia, my heart would rip in half. That’s why my boyfriend and I booked our tickets for a six week backpacking trip in July and August! I hope to teach abroad in SE Asia again in the future too because the Land of Smiles leaves an incredible imprint on your heart and soul.

This adventure has been the gateway to many more. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts!

-G

Goodbye Thailand!

The semester has flown, and my last week over here at Sahabumrung Wittaya School is coming to an end. It feels like just yesterday I was woken up by my alarm in Dallas, thought to myself “this is it!,” and found myself in Bangkok 24 hours later. 

Throwback to my first songteow ride!


I mainly blog about my traveling, but before I set off into the sunset I want to take a few minutes to record what an average day looks like at school. It’s all become so routine & normal to me now, but I know that when I think back to this place months and years from now, it’ll feel worlds away. So here it is, more for my benefit than for yours – a look at a regular school day at SB

My alarm goes off at 6:00am, and I get ready for school, still dressing in all black in honor of the late king. After waking up way too early, I walk to school. I live on campus, so the walk is literally less than one minute! 

The view out my front door. Never gets old!

On my way, I’m stopped dozens of times by students wai-ing me, (putting their hands together and bowing to me). “Good morning Teacha!” echos over and over until I reach the library to sign in. It’s impossible not to smile no matter how tired I am. 

This is Natakorn. He’s one of my favorite first graders. Sometimes he’s a handful. His favorite word is NO!
These boys are hilarious. They’re constantly making me laugh & livening up their fourth grade classroom.


I head to the Foreign Language Department office, where I find the other language teachers. Besides me, English is taught by five Filipino teachers. Our students also learn Chinese from two teachers from China! 

My coworkers have been absolutely amazing. They were the welcoming party when I first arrived in Don Tum, and they have become my best friends in Thailand! The office is full of joking and teasing and singing. 

The only picture I have of (most of) us together! Taken on Loi Krathong by our local river.


…And kittens! Our office cat, Edward, gave birth in February, and is raising her four little ones underneath my desk. If you know me, you know how much I love animals, and this has made coming to work 1000x more fun. 


Anyway, after setting our stuff down in the office, we either go to Worship(my school is Catholic!) or attend the daily all-school assembly outside. 

Once a week, (my day is Wednesday), I have to go up on stage during the assembly and teach a common English phrase to the school, and present a short skit with a few brave students. A few times a week I also go up on stage and lead the school in saying the Our Father in English. I think I’m over my fear of public speaking now! 

After the assembly/ worship, I go over my lesson plans for the day in the office and making any copies I need. Throughout the day I have anywhere from 2 to 4 classes (grades 1-5), each lasting around 50 minutes. Each week, I teach 450 students. I’m proud to say that I know almost all of their names now… okay, maybe around half of them, but that’s still pretty impressive for me! 

My favorite second grade class! In the center is Lotus, an autistic student who has totally opened up to me the past few months. He’s very special to me and gives me so many high fives!
The craziest fifth graders you’ll ever meet.

 

At 9:15, it’s recess time. This means that one of us English teachers hasmicrophone duty. In other words, one of us has to chase down students and interview them in English over the loud speaker. It’s actually pretty fun, and I usually turn my 15 minutes into a weather forecast and ask the kids what they’re snacking on. 

Microphone duty!
Sometimes it turns into first grade rap battles.
Our campus is filled with beautiful trees and flowers. It’s like a little jungle oasis!

 

Recess is also my time to socialize with the kids outside of class. Usually, my first graders will hang around me the whole time, and we talk about colors and food in their limited English (and my very limited Thai). 

Sweet third grade girls!
A very sassy first grader!

 

Throughout the day, kids will drop into the office to ask questions, cuddle with the kittens, play with my secret clay stash, or just say hello. It just goes to show how sweet our kids our, and how special the teacher-student relationship is in Thailand. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job! 

“Teacha! Selfie!”

Then we have a few hours of classes until lunch time. Sometimes I stay in the office for lunch, but more often then not, I’m exhausted by the insanely high temperatures and no air conditioning, so I go home and blast the AC in my house until it’s time to go back again! (Side note: I am honestly baffled that the kids are able to focus and learn in their stiflingly hot classrooms. Even though there are plenty of fans, sweat straight up drips down my body as I’m teaching every day. Major kudos to every Thai student and teacher!

After lunch, students in all grades (even high school) have nap time. It’s a pretty genius idea, and usually the teachers will sleep too. 

After an afternoon of more classes, the final bell rings at 3:40. 


Kids dart out of their rooms to the food carts that line the open space by the church. They sell everything from fried chicken to snow cones. May and I have a tradition of buying 10 baht frozen “cocoa” almost every day. After a hot day of teaching, it’s a great way to cool off! 

Boba is everywhere in Thailand!
May with a snack!

 

At 4:30 we’re free to go home, and by then I’m usually exhausted. As much as I’d love to kick back and watch Netflix or scroll through Facebook, my house (and school) don’t have working Wifi, so I usually take my kindle out on my porch to read. Living without wifi is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s really frustrating when I’m planning trips or wanting to watch a movie, on the other hand, I’ve read over 50 books since I’ve been here, (thank god for my 3G-enabled kindle!), and have grown to appreciate a quieter and simpler lifestyle. 

Kicking back and reading about our next destination!


In the evening after it’s cooled down a little, I usually go to the market with one or two coworkers, (they’re also my neighbors!). On Wednesdays we go to the “big market” that opens down the street, and sometimes I’ll go use the wifi at the coffee shop across the street. That’s about as much as there is to do in my little town! 

We always catch the BEST sunset on evening walks to the market.
At our favorite noodle shop!


It may sound boring, but as an extroverted introvert, I love the amount of free time and time I can spend by myself. Laying low during the week also recharges me for all the epic weekend trips. I think I found a good balance! 

So there’s my typical workday in a nutshell. 

It’s been quite the journey… from solving language barriers, to watching my team win first place at sports day, to cut-throat bingo games, to impromptu dance offs. I’m so happy I’ve gotten to know this little corner of Thailand. 

I love these guys.

Thank you to all my students… all 450 of you! Thank you for showing me such an incredible amount of love every day, and for giving me a home away from home for the past five months. You crazy kids will always hold a special place in my heart!

A bunch of pictures of our kindergarteners from their graduation last week!

Goodbyes are always to hard. I’ve had to say a lot of really difficult goodbyes in the past few years, and every time it reminds me how lucky I am to have these strong and special bonds that make it so hard to say goodbye. 

May and Chompoo, a rambunctious fourth grader who speaks excellent English!


In two days, I’ll set off on a three month backpacking stint coveringCambodia, Vietnam, the Thai islands, Myanmar, Northern Thailand,Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nepal

Now I just need to pack! Goodbye for now, Thailand – I’ll be back! 

PS- I intend to keep blogging through my travels outside of Thailand… I just need to think of a clever new handle! 

How to Know You're Making a Difference (3/3)

“Taming the Teenager”

Best for last, this really hit me in the feels. There’s a student who has had some behavioral issues, which will not be divulged publicly, whom I teach. In general, he doesn’t seem to care about attending class and participating. With this class, I taught The Giver, which is my favorite book. This English subject is focused on vocal communication, so we worked with the audiobook some, and then I planned to show them the movie adaptation of the book, which any student would prefer. However, I got this particular student to actually pay attention - when frankly he never has in my class before - by showing the movie. Not only did he pay attention, he also cared enough to move [away from his friends] by my computer, so he could see the movie better.

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Actually leaning to see the screen before...

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This felt like a huge victory for me, and I was proud that I could deliver something in class - that actually pertained to the course material - that made this student stop and care. I can only hope that he took something out of this movie, and maybe it'll even inspire him to want to participate in class more in the future.

It’s the little things…

Comment with questions or suggestions for a post!  -G

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