Students line up for the morning song and prayer
Today was my first day at the school that I will be teaching English at in Chonburi. The school has a name that is difficult to remember, Banhuaykapi School. Students range from the age of 4-14 and treat teachers with a kind of respect that teachers in the states would envy. Of course, they are still kids and often get loud, playful, and disobedient but are most often quiet and bow when walking in front of the teachers, showing a kind of humbleness that makes this particular American teacher almost uncomfortable. Every morning the students line up in front of the school to sing the national anthem and partake in a Buddhist prayer. Announcements are also given over a loudspeaker and Krue Na (the teacher that will be helping me through my first few days) introduced me to the entire school. The morning was filled with muggy weather and constant rain so when I was led up to the platform in front of all the students, a humble young girl provided an umbrella for shelter. I was given a short tour of the school and then shuttled back to the main office where I knew I would be spending a lot of my time, at least in the beginning.The Buddha shrine in Paw Aw's office
Pai's father is the director of the school and is the one that agreed to give me this job. I refer to him as Paw Aw (director) and will be getting rides to school with him in the morning. It is quite prestigious to be arriving at school with the director so I have been told I will be arriving in style! I was given some sweet ginger tea to start the day before I get carted around to each classroom for an introduction to the students.
A lost student, waiting to find out what class he is in. Teachers teased him for forgetting and made him help around the front office until a room was found for him.
Some boys enjoying their lunch in the cantina, free food for all (though the taste leaves something to be desired)
Peter is another English teacher that has been teaching at this school for 2 years now. He's from Ireland.
I shadowed the existing English teacher they have from Ireland to see how you entertain a bunch of young Thai kids with a a language they have a only a slight grasp on. To no surprise I was then thrown in front of a class, expected to teach them for an hour at a time with no training or background in their previous knowledge. I will be spending the next few days trying to put together some lesson plans...
Kids all around the world love to ham it up when a camera is pointed at them!
After my first day of mostly sitting around trying to find something to do and entertaining the other teachers with my broken Thai, Paw Aw was finally finished with his day around 5:30pm. He had to buy some supplies for a house he is building up in the mountains surrounding Chonburi. We went to the house after we picked up some cement and I finally got to enjoy the natural beauty in Thailand that I had been missing while staying in the industrial part of this large city. I explored some of the jungle around the area and found Chinese based shrines with some aged offerings of jasmine and incense. The bugs are large and plentiful in this area, to say the least! The chickens running around the place had little chicklets and were not at all shy about trying to protect them when I got too close!
A shrine near Paw Aw's house in the mountains
After I got to see the charming little house Paw Aw is building in the mountains, we went to meet some of his friends at a local restaurant. They were already half a bottle deep in some local whiskey and, unlike local custom, I was more than welcome to partake in drink in front of my boss! The Thai like to mix a little bit of whiskey with soda water but I found that much too diluted so they just poured it over ice for me ;) Most were not accustomed to seeing a woman handle her drinks so well!
I didn't get home until after 10pm. I was exhausted. The day started at 7 and, little to my knowledge, when we left Paw Aw's friend at the mountain restaurant we went to go meet a few others at a restaurant back in town. More whiskey and spicy treats. I passed out on the drive back home, just in time to get to bed and get up for the next day. This teaching thing is going ot be harder than I thought!