Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get ready, get set... GOOOOOO (and TEACH and LEARN)--FLOOD Edition

Today (Thursday, October 21st) , after a little more than two weeks of orientation (and a little more than a year), I stepped (back) into a classroom. SIDE NOTE: I spent one year (2009-2010) writing and implementing curriculum for the Si Se Puede! Learning Center in Somerton, AZ--this means that I have experience teaching/tutoring/counseling/coordinating activities for pre-school and elementary aged children.

While in Bangkok, all Fulbright ETAs were required to teach at a local school and receive constructive feedback on our teaching techniques. We were supposed to practice teaching English in Bangkok for a week and a half, but the flood affecting Bangkok shrunk our days inside the classroom from 7 to 2 days.

Teaching went smoothly, the only thing I need to work on when co-teaching is controlling my dominating personality (I tend to hog the spotlight, but I think this will be a good thing when I have to teach solo in my province), and the hesitation in my voice the first 5 minutes of class. But I expected a group of shy and uncooperative (SIDE NOTE: culturally Thai students are notorious for not wanting to step outside their comfort zone and participate in classroom activities) but our students were amazing! I enjoyed re-learning that young students are excited and forgiving to new teachers.

I am now very excited to have my own set of students (and hopefully my own classroom). Personally, the two days we had in the classroom revived my enthusiasm to facilitate a class and I am very excited to move to Khon Kaen and begin to teach my students!

Earlier in this entry, I mention that the flood that is threatening Bangkok spoiled our plans to teach for a longer period for our teaching practical, but it also did a lot more than that...

It has been very difficult to receive reliable information/predictions about the flood, but word on the street is that October 28th-30th is supposed to be the worst (as far as flooding, rain, and safety for the people of Bangkok). I have heard about the floods in Thailand for the last few weeks but I always managed to disassociate myself from all of it, until recently.

The following are the ways in which I have seen the flood *impact my life:
  1. Chulalongkorn University has closed for the week.
  2. The last week of Fulbright orientation has been canceled: this week we were supposed to have our last week of orientation and language courses.
  3. Shortened teaching practical.
  4. My Thai family (the Fulbright staff) is very concerned (for awhile, they did not seem too worried--they had taken the mai pen rai approach--but now I can hear concern in their voices).
  5. Everyone is preparing for the worst. In the picture above, you will see a local business who decided to erect a cement wall to block off flood waters.
  6. My fellow ETA Fulbrighters were told at the beginning of this week that we were going to leave Bangkok earlier than anticipated (instead of leaving the Oct 31st we were now going to leave the Oct 26th), so that we could avoid the floods. Unfortunately, our program coordinator was unable to find plane tickets for us to head north. We might get to witness, firsthand, one of the worst floods in Thailand’s history.
  7. In the last few days the following notice was posted in our dorm's elevator:

*Impact= I am still wondering why it has taken me this long to feel affected by the floods in Bangkok. Is it because it hadn’t inconvenienced me personally? Or because I heard so much about the flood that I feel desensitized? SIDE NOTE: As I write this entry, I am terrified because of the massive clouds in the sky, lighting, and high speed winds.

For now, I am safe and dry. I have some snacks stored. Tesco Lotus on Rama 1 is currently under very short supply of water and instant noodles; most non-perishable goods are flying off the shelves.

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