And in with the new? I hope so. Since my last post, I’ve survived 308 sports days, 436 parades, Christmas Camp, Scout Camp, a handful of classes … and I think that’s it.
In early December I went to visit PCV friends and since I was there anyways, I ‘helped’ with their Saturday English class in their village. (That’s me on the right.)
One day these were my beautiful 5th grade students, and the next day… Every sports day needs a parade. My theory is that Thais love parades, so they plan lots of sports days as excuses to have parades (and miss school and stuff, but that goes without saying).
Look! Sports! This was the high school sports day.
This is the local government sports day. Sports day took over a week, but we only officially had one sports day, so that the schools wouldn’t have to report being closed and then make up the lost time later. (We also missed 2 days of school following local government sports week so that all the teachers could go watch the regional sports day that their students didn’t make it to). These girls are playing ‘dta-graw.’ It’s 3 people to a team, and you have to get that ball over the net without your hands. It’s fun to watch.
Until very recently (let’s say 5 years ago), rice harvesting was all done by hand in this area. In mid-November, I saw some harvesting being done by hand, and a lot of harvesting being done by machine (note Jo Turbo on the machine pictured). My host grandma encouraged me to come with her to harvest. “We’re going to harvest rice!” she said, while doing the motion of cutting rice by hand. But it turns out that what she meant was, “We’re going to watch a man drive a machine that harvests the rice!” (Imagine how this has to be shaking up their world. A job that used to take hundreds of hours of work now takes minutes).
After we watched the rice being harvested, I watched the watering of the vegetable garden. I offered to help, but grandma insisted that it would mess things up. So I watched a 75-year old woman haul bucket after bucket of water from a pond, carry the buckets over this ‘bridge,’ and splash her plants.
After the harvest in mid-November, it was burning time. This is the road home from school.
Somehow we ended up having ‘Christmas Camp’ at my high school (= school-wide Christmas activity + English Camp). I stirred up all kinds of trouble, first by including academic activities in the schedule, then by yelling at the principal about being late, then by getting teachers in trouble for neglecting their assigned duties for more fun things during Christmas Camp Day.
Guess what famous scene this is? The Annunciation of course, as directed by Jeannine. Christmas Camp Day included a skit. I’m posting a rehearsal picture, because this was probably the peak of the skit experience for everyone. The actors and actresses were doing a really good job, learning the English and actually understanding what they were saying, but then things kind of fell apart by ‘Christmas Camp’ day itself.
The three kings getting ready for the performance.
Reading? At school? No way!! Christmas Camp had many weak points, but I saw kids I’ve never seen before (attendance was good, relatively speaking. Even for the 2.5 hours of learning I squeezed into the day). Actual engagement in the English – learning activities was pretty good too.
The high school has a New Year’s gift exchange every year. Teachers participate to. This is what I got. If only it were life-size !
On Christmas Day itself, my Thai counterpart and her husband said they were going to eat dinner with me. They ended up hosting a dinner party in my house , which was nice.
The only food I prepared was rice. My counterpart’s husband cooked the rest. My guests were awed by my rice cooking skills (you cooked it in a pot!? how did you do that?) This generation only uses rice cookers, they said.
The landlord had to bring over glasses and things since I don’t usually entertain.
Every Thai student is a Scout. One day per week, all the students and teachers wear their scout uniforms to school. Then once a year, there’s Scout Camp. I resisted going, but ended up going anyways. (At least no one has found me a scout uniform.)
The students and teachers marched and saluted and prayed and marched and saluted. Thanks to my lack of uniform, I got to just watch (along with the other teachers who ‘forgot’ their uniforms).
Letting lose (had to do something while the others were off marching and saluting).
Just when I thought I’d made it through Scout Camp unscathed, it was time for the ASEAN pageant (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). So naturally I had to put on some awful stereotyped version of a Vietnam outfit and walk around the camp fire and smile.