Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long Overdue ~The Holidays~ Processing Time

Words swimming in my head (that I may or may not discuss in this entry):

lost wallet
super mistakes
$60 USD
replacing the replaceable
magical thinking
carbon footprint
stay with me
rainbow colored zebra
a year ago

“A year ago today...”- this phrase was stuck in my head for most of the holidays. On a daily basis, I try my hardest to live in the present and stop living in the past, or in the future, or in my head. The holidays weakened my ability to deter these pesky thoughts. Before the holiday season, the Fulbright Thailand staff had been warning the Fulbrighters that the holidays would be rough on us, but I never really processed their warnings. Side note: A year ago Christmas Day, I thought I had a serious illness that was causing my left eye to droop, but after many tests (i.e. spinal tap, blood tests, MRIs, CAT scans, and series of medications) the doctors figured that the muscle in my left eye gave out and I had surgery to correct this. During my initial prognosis I thought “why me? I’m only 23.” These thoughts about my mortality soon transformed into “Why Abby? She was only 24.” My thoughts about Abby's death made me realize that I am very fortunate to be alive and to have known her and be able to carry her light with me in the work that I do.

After my birthday (and my realization that I have entered womanhood), I started to be more cheerful and embraced the present. I continued to cherish this wonderful opportunity to teach in Thailand. Side note: Everyday I realize that I am learning a lot more than I am teaching. Everyday I learn a life lesson on how to be a better me.

As you might have noticed, I have been neglecting my blog. I was afraid that this would happen, at some point, but I have accepted that I needed time to process everything that I was thinking/experiencing. Although I was living in my head and or the past during the holidays, the people at Ban Phai Pittiyakom School and my host family were amazing at making me feel less homesick.

On December 30th, my school held a Christmas day event for the students (9am-12pm) and a New Year’s Day celebration for the teachers (4:30pm-6pm). During the Christmas day event, students’ art work (that they made in my classes) was displayed all over the auditorium/gym/multi-purpose room. The art work represented the diverse holidays celebrated in America (i.e. Hanukkah, Noche Buena, Kwanzaa, and Christmas).

We also played (or destroyed) the piƱatas that the M3 (10th grade) and M6 (12th grade) students made. Throughout the event students sang, performed, and took part in a raffle. My co-worker, Chanita, and I surprised the students by doing a dance number by the Wonder Girls’ song “Be my Baby.” Side note: I had been very worried about this performance until Kelly Bender (my life mentor, friend, and personal cheerleader) sent me a book entitled “Everything will be OK” in which there is a checklist that reads, “ You will need: Curiosity, Kindness, Stamina, Willingness to look Stupid.”

Side note: Most of the teachers admire my lack of inhibitions. I am always the teacher that volunteers to sing and dance and or help out in last minute activities...and for most of my life I have been that person that loves to speak out in classes and or conferences, but if people only knew how shy I really am!!

Last weekend, my friend and fellow, Fulbrighter Gracie Raver came to visit me in Ban Phai (my hood) and she met my host family. It was nice having an American around to speak English and reassure me that this is my life. Sometimes I feel like like I am imagining all the awesome things that I experince. Gracie and I were invited to watch the KKFC (Khon Kaen Football Club) vs. TPFC (Thai Port Football Club) at the KKFC stadium with my host family. Side note: My host father is the KKFC team manager so I get to sit in the VIP section at home games.

On Monday and Tuesday, of this week, all the students at my school had midterms while I sat around and studied for the GREs, worked on lesson plans, and took care of grading. Side note: Yup, that’s right! This woman is taking the GREs in 2012 NO MATTER WHAT!! After mid-terms, I met with my M3.4 students (only 10 students showed up. It seems like students lost their steam after mid-terms). On Thursday, a majority of the teachers and I headed to Khorat’s Happy Land for our M2 (8th grade) students’ Boy Scout/Girl Scout camp activities. Side note: M1, M2, M3 (7th-10th grade) students are expected to partake in Boy Scout/Girl Scout activities on Wednesday during their 7th period.

Ban Phai Pittayakom Schedule:
8:00am-8:30am~ Morning assembly
8:30am-12:00pm~ 1st-4th period.
12:00pm-1:00pm~ Lunch time (I don’t remember my school lunches being that long...)
1:00pm-3:30pm~ 4th-7th period

**Classes are approximately 50 minutes long. Side note: Students are often late to their classes because they do not have a passing period (or an allocated time to get from one class to another). At Fairfax High School, we had a 5 minute passing period to get to our following class.

Places visited: Ubon Rachatani, BKK, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son/Pai, Mahasarakham, Suphan Buri, and Khorat.

Topics to be covered in upcoming entries:
  • Transportation
  • Food & Cooking
  • Glenda's Thai language woes