Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Welcome to Thailand"

Whenever I'm absolutely and completely baffled by something, one of the other foreign teachers just looks at me and says "Welcome to Thailand."
You mean you can't fail students?  (At least not until M. 4, which is 10th grade, and even then...)
So, students don't need a pass to leave class or school early?  They can just go?  Ok, so no way to control students skipping class.  I see.
You shut the computer lab down by just flipping the breakers off?  *head desk*
The grammar text book uses the phrase: "as high as a kite" to describe extreme happiness.  Right.  Who proof read that?
You mean junk food is actually expensive, and healthy food is actually cheap?
The same companies that sell self-tanning lotion in the states, sell "skin whitening" lotions here.
Instead of catching and euthanizing stray dogs and cats, people set out their scraps for them.  They have about as much free reign of the streets and sidewalks as people do.
Along with priority seating for the elderly, small children and pregnant women, the buses also have a priority seating area for monks.
Nearly microscopic ants are everywhere.  No really, everywhere.  And they will eat anything remotely resembling food.  Candles made of vegetable wax?  Yum!  Lipstick on the rim of a water glass?  Tasty!
The Thai language doesn't really have tenses.  So, when there is talk of something happening 'tomorrow,' that is a very sweeping generalization that could be tomorrow or two years from now.

Alright, so moving on.  The floor is down in the future computer room.  One of the main office computers has internet.  The water has been working most of the time in the women's bathrooms.  The men's  rooms are still out of order, so one of the women's rooms has been designated the men's room until further notice.  My student that enjoys makeup?  Well, he also wears heels higher than I would, and when all done up for the dance competition, had boys in another class turning heads and demanding to know who 'she' was.  They were embarrassed and disappointed to find out it was a boy.  Though truth be told I'm not certain the head master is aware of any of this, she might faint.

So while we're on the topic of gender, let's discuss dating.  Whenever students begin dating, the head master makes a point to try and get them to break up.  This is not a secret, in fact even today a student in M. 1 (7th grade) got up and gave a sarcastic commentary on the matter, in English no less.  The headmaster even asked me to tell the students that in America, students don't date at this age.  That it's just "puppy love."  I met this request with a blank stare of confusion, which was clarified for me with the phrase, "tell lie, tell lie."  I proceeded to nod and smile while thinking to myself, no way.  In fact, this attitude of intervening in matters of dating extends to the teachers as well, and not just in affairs of match making.  My boss flat out told me when I moved, "only women in your apartment."  And kept reiterating, albeit with slightly incorrect English, that I should only have women visit my apartment.  She even made some remark about the whole building being only women.  Yes, I moved into a convent.  I should never allow a repairman to fix the leaky faucet in my bathroom or change the light bulb I can't reach.  And heaven forbid a male relative ever set foot here.  Alright, so, on the one hand you try and play matchmaker and set me up, and on the other you tell me not to bring anyone home, under any circumstance ever?  And on what planet does this make sense?
It did apparently assuage the 9th graders that she is currently trying to pry apart that she also tries to meddle in the teacher's love lives.  "Really?  But she's a teacher!"  Exactly.  It's not appropriate at either level, but at least it is consistent.  Personally, I find the greatest hilarity in the situation today.  Male student that enjoys wearing heels and makeup was sitting "too close" to a female student as they worked on an assignment together.  Head master comes over and scolds them, telling her "don't sit so close to him!"  As this scene was recreated for me, he did a little curtsy and hand flourish - and none of us could help but laugh at the sheer level of ridiculousness of the whole mess.

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