So, it’s past time for an entry, and as promised I will be catching up. That does mean however, I’ll basically be bombing my blog with multiple posts very shortly. I will do my best to keep things in some semi-coherent format and try to spread out my posts; and picture updates may come at a later date.
I had a lovely Thanksgiving. Another Tan Tong resident (my apartment building) organized a wonderful meal. She is an English teacher at another school, of Thai-American heritage, raised in Minnesota. Our celebration took place on the rooftop, with strands of lights, candles and yoga mats spread out to sit on and share the bounty. We did not have turkey, but we had a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, stuffing, half a Thai pumpkin baked and stuffed with stuffing to be our ‘turkey,’ stuffed bell peppers, corn on the cob, salad, wine and pumpkin pie! All made more amazing by the fact that this was all concocted in an apartment building with no ovens. Hot plate, blender, toaster and toaster oven were used for creating this feast. Though perhaps one or two dishes brought by guests were made in their ovens at their own residence, the baked pumpkin, stuffing, pumpkin pie and vast majority of the dishes were created with a toaster oven or hot plate.
Our ‘table,’ though we had no table, drew together people from America, Thailand, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and likely one or two other places. Before the meal we went around and said what we were thankful for (or rather, as we began passing and serving food). Our meal was complimented by someone’s laptop and speakers brought out for mood music, the candles, an anti-mosquito incense coil and the backdrop of Bangkok in night lights. Specifically the view of the Rama VIII bridge to one side and one of the very famous Wats to the back, whose name of course, escapes me. (A wat is a Buddhist temple).
As one of the Americans in attendance, I was very thankful to have Thanksgiving, because for my family it is a more important time for family than Christmas (or at least, it has gotten to be that way over the past five years or more).
Some of the Thais at our table had never experienced Thanksgiving before. Most of the Europeans just knew it was an American holiday, but naturally did not celebrate it on their own. Everyone was happy to join in the celebration. It’s hard to argue with a holiday centered around eating a huge meal with friends; which no, is not the origin of Thanksgiving exactly, but whatever.
I’ve decided for future school work days that fall on major US holidays to arrange American culture lessons within whatever subject I’m teaching; which it seems can vary quite easily from semester to semester. I’m currently teaching Grammar and Computers, however I could be teaching Reading or Speaking at some point as well. Apparently the schedule for each teacher isn’t finalized until a week or so into the semester. English class is broken up into 3 sections (at least at my school): Reading class, Speaking class, and Grammar class. I’m also in charge of one of the clubs, ‘Public Speaking,’ which thankfully is a non-graded, fairly flexible time that I work with students. I’m also thankful to be working with the more mature of the two seventh grade classes for public speaking. What they’ve come up with so far has been positively delightful. So far we’ve done impromptu, and scripted student generated skits in front of the class. My idea being that a) there is safety in numbers (at least they think) and b) if they believe they are trying to make their classmates laugh any way, they’re less likely to be nervous about getting up in front to speak and having the class laugh. For the scripted skits I gave them the prompt ‘stranded on a deserted island,’ and they were positively brilliant. I didn’t require props, but many groups drew palm trees, making a fire, and building a lifeboat on the chalk board. One group had a member missing when it was their time to present, and without even being asked they delegated the third group member’s lines between the two of them so they could present without her there. During one skit, a boy outside the group presenting was spinning his flash drive around on it’s string, just fidgeting – and the group incorporated it into their skit as the helicopter that was coming to rescue them. Water bottle sitting on the front desk becomes fair game as a prop to indicate the stranded persons fighting over the last remaining water. And of course, flash drive or ‘handy drive’ makes a great toy/prop gun. Though how they ended up with guns on the deserted island is beyond me.
So despite my initial misgivings about ‘Public Speaking Club,’ it’s going very well. Though I think with the help of one of the secretaries I’ve befriended, we’re going to ‘suggest’ I be in charge of an art club next semester, which shouldn’t be too difficult to maneuver as long as it’s handled properly (hence, my friend the secretary, who is Thai, will suggest it first, not me). It’s a start. Some of the older students, 10th and 11th grade, have found out I studied to teach art, and want me to teach art. There are some office politics in that however, so, I’m not going in like a bull in a China shop. Not to mention the cultural gap between Eastern and Western Art Education. Plus, they would have to find someone else for computers, because having been hired to teach English, I must teach some English sections, even if I teach other classes in English immersion. Meh. Any way, I shall go with the flow as best I can. After all, T.I.T., this is Thailand. Obviously the letter must be said individually for that abbreviation; some of the other farangs have made it ‘Welcome to Thailand’ instead.