As confusing and upsetting as the Thai education system can be, and as lost as I still am in terms of finding classes, planning lessons, and telling my students and classes apart from one another (everyone seriously looks the same here), Lomkao is relaxed in the most beautiful way possible.
We have been welcomed into a close-knit family of other teachers. We call our coordinators Pee Nit and Pee Pui – “Pee” means sister. The head of the foreign language department, our direct boss, is named Pee Som – Som translates to orange. We already love these teachers, especially Pee Som. She is like our Thai mom – many days she leaves breakfast on our desks for when we come back from teaching our first period, like this ear of corn pictured below. (Corn for breakfast, anyone?)
The director of our school is named Mr. Wises and he lives in one of the houses on campus only a few doors down from ours. On the second day that we were on campus, our first day of teaching, Mr. Wises and Pee Pui introduced Jenn and I to the student assembly.
Every morning, Lomkaophittayakhom has student assembly – All 2,500 students at the school gather in a large, outdoor area with a stage. First, the students are lead in Buddhist prayer, directed toward the on-campus temple. Then, announcements are made by one of the teachers.
On this day, Jenn and I were guided on stage and asked to introduce ourselves to the students.
“Hello, my name is Teacher Sam. I am from America. I will be teaching Mattayhom 3 and 5. Thank you for having me – I am happy to be here!”
Once our introductions were made, Director Wises presented Jenn and I with bouquets of fake flowers on stage as a formal welcome to Lomkaophittayakhom. It’s heart-warming how grateful they are to have us here. It’s humbling how badly Mr. Wises clearly wishes he could speak English better to actually welcome us, rather than relying on Pee Pui’s translations.
Fake flowers? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Add fake flowers to the list of Thai obsessions. In a land with dozens of beautiful flowers, in the middle of spring time, fake flowers are still the go-to choice for celebration. You can find them everywhere – and you better believe we kept those bouquets (in plastic vases) on our desks!
OH – I forgot about one of the funniest things to happen since I’ve been here! In case you didn’t know, Thai language has a totally different alphabet. It has almost as many characters as the Chinese alphabet. So, while I am learning spoken Thai, I believe I will forever be illiterate. This makes it very difficult for Thai people to spell correctly in English – it’s not even their native alphabet!
So, when I arrived to my desk on the first day, I was greeted with a name tag that read “Ms. Samanta Harie Page” and I could not stop laughing. They have corrected it now, but I don’t think John and Jenn are going to call me by my actually middle name anymore. I am now Saman taaa Harry – Nice to meet you!
P.S. – My desk is still a work in progress. It’s covered with a glass top, so many of the teachers put photographs and other keepsakes between the tabletop and the glass. It makes for a very fun and homey atmosphere. I’m adding every day 🙂