This will be my last blog / column post during my teach program in Thailand. The last sprinkling of Chalk Dust. It has been a wonderful semester and now it comes to a close….
It seems like just few days ago when I first contacted Anna and Lauren at Greenheart Travel / CCI in Chicago. I stumbled upon the Greenheart Travel website one day while I was researching the idea of teaching English in Asia. They, and everyone else at Greenheart, were (and still are) so helpful in this entire process. I’m sure they probably wondered more than once how one guy can ask so many questions!! Ha! The good thing is that their answers led me to Thailand where I’ve been able to teach English for the last five months. (Anna, do you remember when I phoned you from the San Francisco airport after I had spent the night there because I missed my plane? I had to laugh during that call – otherwise I would have cried – ha!)
I remember finally stumbling off the plane at midnight in Bangkok – my epic three day travel journey was almost done and I was exhausted! Armed with the printed directions to the Louis Tavern Hotel, thanks to Phil, I approached the public taxi stand with confidence. After about 15 seconds dealing with my Bangkok taxi driver, the confidence I had was eroded. Lesson one was learned: Bangkok taxi drivers are great actors and great salespeople. I swear the taxi meter was spinning like the exercise wheel in a hamster cage! Anyway, I made it the hotel, overpaid my taxi driver, and slept for a couple hours before Orientation started.
The one week teacher Orientation was fantastic! I know I’ve said this before – but it really was an outstanding week. It was both entertaining and educational. I had never taught before and the orientation sessions that were led by ex and current English teachers were wonderful! Those sessions help put me at ease (somewhat) by showing me that making a lesson plan is doable and teaching a class is something that I can handle. Plus, the orientation sessions that taught us the basic Thai language were very helpful. I still learn more of the Thai language every day, but those first lessons were a great start! In addition to all of the classroom training, we also had time for fun – and that was something I didn’t expect. We went to a traditional Thai puppet show and we went to Kanchanaburi together – what a great time! Thank you Phil!
The last five months have flown by. It seems like just yesterday when I met Wattana, my Coordinator, here at school. She is absolutely fantastic! I can’t say this enough! She has been there with me during every step of the whole work permit / visa extension process. Plus, as a fellow English teacher, she has been an invaluable resource for lesson plans and classroom ideas. She has answered countless work / school questions from me, helped me with weekend travel plans, and shown me the best restaurants in town. If it hadn’t been for her, my experience here in Thailand would have been much less enjoyable. Thank you Wattana!!
Of course, the teaching part of my life here has also been amazing. I will miss it in October. I will miss my students. I will miss acting foolish in class and making my kids learn while they laugh. I will miss greeting my van driver every morning with a Wai and a smile. I will miss seeing my students light up when they “get it” and they “say it” right. I will miss the 15 baht (50 cent) lunches here at school with fresh rice, vegetables, and chicken. I will miss being handed a fist full of Baht at the end of the month and wondering where I should travel to next. I will miss my fellow Thai teachers and all of the hyper students in the classroom. Who knows, maybe I’ll miss it so much that I’ll come back next year….??
Here are few more “You Know You’re a Thailander When This Happens” moments:
*You know you’re a Thailander when you realize that you should have purchased stock in 7-11 and the company that makes Carnation Condensed Milk!
*You know you’re a Thailander when you decide not to walk a half a block and you take a tuk-tuk or motor scooter taxi instead.
*You know you’re a Thailander when you look up in the sky during the day and see a perfect rainbow circle around the sun. (With hot weather and 457% humidity, it just happens.)
*You know you’re a Thailander when the words ‘Private’ or ‘Privacy’ do not exist in your internal dictionary any longer.
*You know you’re a Thailander when you realize that people here hardly ever get sick and it’s because of the Wai which is the equivalent of a handshake without the actual physical contact.
Have a great day, week, month, and year! Hopefully my silly little blog has brought you (along with my 3 other readers – ha!) a smile or two….
For now though, we will watch the Chalk Dust settle for the last time. Best regards, Paul Hoffman