Sunday, November 17, 2013

11-15-13 Sports Day and Chiang Mai--Here We Come!

An Update About 11/14/13
     During my last post, I talked about changing the points system in my classroom. I forgot to mention that even though I’m putting up an insane amount of tally points on the board, I take a crazy amount away if they laugh at each other or don’t follow directions. 
     As I counted the team points randomly during the day, Team 1, which had about 105 points, laughed at the groups that had 75, 55, and 34 points. After telling them to stop laughing because it wasn’t nice, they continued to do so, so I wiped away 5 of their points. I heard gasps, shocked silence, and one of the Team 1 members saying, “No, teacha! Noooooo!” But it was very effective. The next time I counted, they didn’t laugh. When someone else from Team 6 laughed, I immediately erased 5 points from his team... his laughter was wiped away too.
     I started putting smiley faces on the board again--I feel like I owe these kids a lot of candy. They earned 10 smileys, but whenever one of my students stood up from his desk and wandered off, I threatened to erase the eye of one of the smiley faces, and the kid shouted out, “Nooooooo, teacha!” again and returned to his seat. I just love how strong their reactions are to me erasing one tiny little mark on the board. It’s also hilarious from my end because then I see one-eyed smiley faces on the board. It just looks so weird!
     I have also started putting large red sad faces on student work when they don’t do their work or don’t complete it on time. Then, I send it home for homework. It’s a way of record-keeping for me, as the other teachers told me, and it also shows the parents what their children are doing in class.
     Next week, I think I’ll be super evil and take photos of them goofing off. Then, I’ll print them out, send them home, and force the parents to see just how spoiled rotten their little angels are. Hopefully, they’ll stop sending toys to school; how on earth can the students learn when they have so many distractions in front of them? 

St. Francis Xavier School: my school.
The funny thing about this picture is that this is the first time I've actually
really looked at my school. I always enter from the back and go into my 
classroom, so I really don't see the front often. I also don't walk across that
football playing field. (Football = soccer)

The playing field

     Also, I have been so proud of being a teacher, especially to one of my students, Nano. He has been crying every morning because of separation anxiety from his mom. However, ever since a week and a half into this semester with me, he has loved being in class and has stopped crying. :)
However, on the 14th, he started off the day all sunshine-y and did his work really well in class. After he came back to the classroom from Dance class though, he broke down. As I sat next to him, trying to give him a hug (I was rejected lol), I told him it was okay and that he only had to wait a little before going home. He shook his head and just responded that he wanted to go home and to see his mom. I told him his friends were waiting, but he continued to shake his head. I told him his lunch was waiting and he could go outside to play after eating it, but he just continued to cry. After about 3 minutes, I stood up and told him to stand up. When he didn’t, I became part-mommy to him, put my arm around his shoulders, and started taking him outside the classroom. He held onto the sliding doors, but I unclenched his fingers and continued to pull and push him down the hallway.
     Gina, who noticed me having trouble bringing him down the hallway, asked me what would happen if I just let go of him and walked ahead of him to not show him the attention he may have been seeking. I tried it, and he raced back to the classroom. She ended up retrieving him, bringing him much more quickly down the hallway. As we neared the lobby, my Thai teacher, returning from lunch, saw us and took him. She ended up bringing him back to the classroom, gave him a job to do to get ready for Sports Day (I found this out because I brought my lunch to the classroom to check on him), and so he simmered down a little bit. In an American classroom, I feel like I could do that, but because he speaks very limited English, I feel that the Thai teacher was probably a lot more soothing in general to him.
     By the way, I have other students who ask me, “Teacha! Can I go to the hos-pe-tal?!” It makes me laugh because they mean the nurse’s office, and they say it so adorably. Haha, love these little cuties. :)
     On another topic (sort of), I started looking at David Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar. As I went through the first few pages slowly, copying sounds and very few vocabulary words so that I will understand the other vocabulary later, and practicing the pronunciation using Google Translate, I decided to practice, “I don’t speak Thai yet. I speak English.” As I learned this, I realized that my student Aungkrit’s name means English... in Thai. I was so surprised at that connection, especially with the addition of him being one of the strongest English speakers in my class, that that was the moment that made my day. Aungkrit means English! How about that? :)

11/15/13 Sports Day!
     So today, we had Sports Day. It’s an all day event, from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM. We didn’t have to teach, and the foreign teachers just had to be present... somewhere. There was no real way of keeping track of us though. 
     Basically, both sides of the school, the Thai side and our English Program, moved to our side of the school. We are each housed in gated areas. A little more general information: the English Program costs the parents almost double the tuition as compared to the tuition of the Thai side program. The main difference is that most subjects on the Thai side are taught in Thai and there is an English teacher that comes in once a day or so, while on our English Program side, the English-speaking teacher teaches Science, Health, Math, and English Skills & Comprehension all in English. The students have to pay more if they want more exposure to the English language.
     Because of the price difference, the Thai side had a lot more students, so they were split into different teams for Sports Day: Yellow, Green, and Blue. We have a much smaller population of students, so we were all on the Orange team. I was able to wear an orange t-shirt and capris to school for once! No sweaty skirt that I keep tripping over today!

Some of my students under the Orange tent

Team English Program!

Aum... what a sweetie :)

     Anyway, let me tell you what I believe Sports Day is and then let me try to help you understand just how big of an event it was. Sports Day is like our Track and Field days, when the students take out time of their days to compete or cheer. However, Thai students do it on a much, MUCH bigger level. High school students were dolled up for a mini-parade where they were dressed for their team’s theme. The little students were dressed also in short skirts and cheerleader uniforms. It was a HUGE production. Some girls even wore 4-inch heels! It was crazy. One of my friends said itw as interesting how Thailand is so conservative, yet parents enjoyed dressing up their daughters as ... well, she used a certain word, but she meant indecently-dressed girls.
The schedule went a little something like this: “parade,” cheering, food and lots of it, cheering, cheerleaders performing, and running events. It was all crazy though; that same teacher from above talked about how she went back to see her class, and they were all screaming so much that her head started hurting. The high school pep leaders were encouraging them to scream even louder though, so the teacher left very soon after.

Sister Brenda (our principal) and the mayor of Nonthaburi!

     Anyway, I will post some pictures, but to me, this was like a full-blown Halloween party. I know that sounds weird because there are sports events involved, but people were fully dressed up, dancing, performing, wiggling their hips (especially the little girls), and everything was crazy the entire time. Also, with all the food, it was almost like a carnival with no rides. This event was just strange, but very, very entertaining. Remember the Vegetarian Festival when everyone went crazy with firecrackers? Well, this was the same, except they were crazy with dressing up, screaming, and making food. The parents must have spent thousands upon thousands of baht on snacks.

Blue team! Look, this is what the high school girls were wearing...

Each team had a theme. Blue team's was Harmony.

Flight attendants. I guess that speaks toward harmony?

These little cheerleaders performed later on.

Orange Team (my team!) By the way, you can see all the apartment
buildings in the backgrounds of these photos. I really am only 3 blocks
away from my school, which is super convenient.

Can you guess our theme?

Our team went tribal. Actually, I missed our team's cheerleaders,
but apparently, they were amazing. It was like a production or a play
and I'm really disappointed to have missed it. :(

Two of my boys in the front: Ou and Max :)

Nano is the one smack dab in the center of this photo, not looking at the camera.

Plato was Spiderman! :)

Yellow Team

They had the theme of The World of Ants.

The worker ants

Queen ants, maybe?

Just look at how much work everyone put into Sports Day. It's insane, but I LOVE it!
To my sister--you would love this too! You know how you like when people go all out
and are crazy? Well, American-crazy is NOTHING like Thai-crazy! And I do say that
in the most loving and awed way possible.

The Green Team

They went for a more worldly, culturally-diverse theme.

Different flags, the Olympics...

The little squirts :)

He's got the whole world in his hands :D

Some of the weirder costumes that didn't seem to relate to any of the themes.

There's Plato, the handsome Spiderman, again!

Those robots seriously made me want to sing Party Rock Anthem.

One of my girls, Tan-Tan getting ready to dance :)

They were so unbelievably cute!

And coordinated lol

The older kids came out to dance too.

Not as cute, but still great!

I was trying to take a creepy stalker photo of my Thai teacher--she's
the one in the back with the hat. My girls noticed my camera aimed
toward them though, so they smiled. :)

I ended up just focusing on them. Chun and Meaily <3

Sister Brenda and the Mayor again

Plato :)

Aungkrit (or should I call him "English?")

Aungkrit trying to scare me away haha

     Throughout the day, I ate a lot. Maybe it was more within one hour before lunch time... I ate som tam with crab this time, sticky rice with fried chicken, desserts, and 2 pork kabobs. Then, really full but wanting more, I went to work in my classroom to organize my stuff. I did meet up with my friends about 45 minutes later around lunch time. They said they were hungry, so we went back out. I ate MORE sticky rice with fried chicken and more of those desserts. The funny and sad thing was I was still hungry and could eat more. I believe I’m not meeting my craving needs and that’s what was making me feel dissatisfied with my very large breakfast and lunch. :(

I ate a large portion of som tam with crab. It was pretty good! Couldn't eat the crab though. Then, I enjoyed many, many other foods:

Khanom krok freshly made! They are Thai
desserts made with coconut milk and flour in 
the center and sprinkled with toppings. :) 
See, parents were constantly making more and 
more food, so we know how much they 
really put into this entire event.

Yummy, I had 3 flavors: onions, sweet potato, and taro.
I stuffed it into my mouth immediately (and very illogically) because Pook told 
me they were delicious hot and I burned my tongue haha! She 
and another lady were laughing at (and with) me, but they said it was 
hilarious because it was something every Thai person has experienced before.

I also had fried chicken with sticky rice. DELICIOUS!

After all of that, I still wanted more, so I waited for 2 pork kabobs.


     I want CAKE. I really do. One of these days, I will walk that 35 minute walk to buy cake, either from Tesco or S&P, where I had cake last time. But I WILL do it. Otherwise, I’ll keep binging on other types of foods and never feel full!

After I missed the Orange Team's performance, I came out in
time to catch the Yellow Team's little cheerleaders. They weren't
that great, but they were really adorable nonetheless! :)


I went and grabbed even MORE food. :(
You can see my orange shirt sort of and my gym shoes! So comfy!

Two of my girls: Aim and Baitoey

Aim, on the left, kept saying how ugly the picture looked and
made me take more. But almost every single time, she posed
in the exact same way... just watch lol:

I finally ended up saying, "Just one more!" And that was the final one. lol Crazy kidlets!


     After 3:30 finally rolled around, I went home, ate the rest of my luk chup, packed all my stuff (well, I actually went home a little after lunch to go home because I needed to print some documents and pack for my exciting weekend trip), and headed to the van terminal in Muang Thong Thani.
     Having talked with people during lunch, I realized that there were two Mo Chit places that the vans took us to, and the one I did NOT want to go to was the Mo Chit BTS (Bangkok Sky Train) station. Someone tried to make me go on the bus to get there, and that’s when I realized that was my mistake the first time when I went to visit my friend. No wonder I hadn’t been able to find the vans/mini-buses. I had taken the bus to the wrong station because no one had understood which one I had been traveling to! That was the one thing I learned today.
     So yes, I had 3 options, after I called my representative:
  1. Take a bus to Mo Chit BTS (Bangkok Sky Train) station anyway, even though it is not close to the bus station really and then take a taxi for about 60 baht (traffic was so heavy though that it wouldn’t have been that cheap).
  2. Take Songtaew 1 or 2 to Chaeng Watthana and then hop on a van to Chatuchak (Mo Chit bus station stop)
  3. Take a taxi all the way and pay an exuberant amount of baht

  • I chose the second option. It’s like I never learn; due to my always-wanting-to-learn-something-new attitude, I did something I didn’t quite know how to do. Especially with no way of communicating with other people because of the language barrier...
  • I stopped the first songtaew I saw. Not headed to Chaeng Watthana.
  • Walked across a heavily-trafficked road with speeding cars to wave at the one going the opposite direction. Hopped on it only to realize that there was actually a stop for it a 10-second walk away from where I had stopped them. Oops!
  • Took it to Chaeng Watthana. Made some people help me find the van to Mo Chit station. Got on the van, only to be stuck in traffic for about an hour. 
  • Ended up frustrated at Mo Chit BTS (WHICH IS, IF YOU REMEMBER, THE STOP I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO ON THE BUS IN THE FIRST PLACE). Took a dangerous and way overpriced motorbike taxi to the Mo Chit Bus Terminal.

     I was actually scared for my life, but it was the fastest way to get there. The guy gave me a poncho to wear because I had no coverings in the slight drizzle and was probably exposing way too much skin lol (it was a really really hot day). 
     To cut what would otherwise be a very long story, I am now on an air-conditioned bus with Jess heading to Chiang Mai for my very first Loi Krathong celebration. I’m so excited! 
     Also, I need to stop typing because people are trying to sleep and I have been tapping away on my laptop for about an hour with the light probably blinding everyone in the darkness. Even though the light setting is low, I’m sure it’s still bothering people. Plus, Jess and I were talking for the first 1.5 hours of the trip, so yeah, I’m just proving to everyone how great of a traveling companion I am... haha :)
     So yeah, until Chiang Mai!!! 

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