07 April 2004

eledile eulogy

i am happy to announce that my time spent between bangkok and nakhon pathom, between the elephant training ground and the crocodile farm, have left me both alive and unscathed. there are worse occurrences in life than walking past baby elephants and their mothers on one's way to work and having dinner with a crocodile wrestler and his family.

yes, it's been a quite few months in sampran, my current hometown. i have to admit that children i have taught in thailand vary quite radically from their chinese counterparts. the first few days were an incredible shock. students were wrestling each other (and i'm talking wwf, not greco-roman) down to the floor, sliding under and over tables and talking like each individual had undergone surgery to insert a microphone next to his or her vocal chords. in short, i just didn't know where to begin. i began to relax a little with one class of 5th grade girls on the second day who sat politely in their chairs and raised their hands to answer questions. towards the end of class, i turned my back to one side of the class and collected papers from the other side. within 20 seconds, there was a shattering sound. i looked back to find that in 20 seconds two students had picked up a chair and begun playing with it . . . straight into three panes of glass. that was the first week.

by the end of the semester in march, most rebellions had been quelled and forces of nature diffused to resemble a low-grade hurricane. i had grown accustomed to the tempests and tumult which was my daily environment, and now i occasionally miss the chaotic amorpha (i hereby anoint "amorpha" a word by right of poetic license) created by cacophonous youths.

but on to new adventures! the end of february brought with it the end of term (summer in thailand is march and april). most teachers went home for the summer, and we bid adieu to the cantankerous youths, but a few teachers stayed to do textbook work and some tutoring. i was assigned to edit and create activities and dialogues for energy sources and recycling. did they know i was green? because i hope it didn't come as a shock when one of the activities designated to mathayom 3 studying coursework published by the archdiocese of bangkok during their english lesson was to write the energy policy council and express concern for thai dependence on oil and the need to encourage energy conservation. tee-hee!

it has also been my glorious treat during these summer months to tutor a young priest, father sahaporn, in preparation for his masters study in america. we have discussed the movie "the passion of christ", life as a seminarian, latin prefixes and roots, football (thumbs down manchester united, thumbs up arsenal) and anything else that comes into our heads. it has been delight incarnate! i have also had the sublime opportunity to spend time with four aspiring seminarians as they sachet down the garden path to bilingualism.

alfy, as many of you know, has been living in nakhon si thammarat in southern thailand, and the commute between bangkok and nakhon has been a difficult row to hoe at times. i began looking for a theatre teaching job in february and finally found one a few weeks ago in nearby suratthani! i will be teaching m1-m2 students (7th and 8th grade in america) drama tempered with a touch of english literature from may onward.

this (finally) brings me to the present day. i am currently in suratthani doing orientation for my new job. the other teachers are absolutely lovely, and i look forward to spending time with every single one of them. the fact that i get to see more of alfy AND get to teach theatre in the meantime is certainly more good fortune than i can credit to merit. and i am going to get a bicycle! most residents of thailand opt for a moped or motorbike as their flavor of transportation, but a few of us here at suratthani school are taking the sweaty route and going for a pedal-pusher. so i was on the lookout for a bicycle shop, a walking tour which took me all over the face of my new fair city. my journey ended at a bike shop near the river which was run by a lovely woman. i asked her how much a few bikes were, and she invited me to look at her bike catalog. lo and behold there was chinese written in pen next to each description! next thing i know we were speaking chinese and meeting her daughter who is learning english and chinese and who has lived on the west coast and southern china! i found a bicycle, new friends, and a thai-english language exchange partner all in one go. who needs fred meyer's? this is one-stop shopping! now all i need is a place to stay and life is golden.

next week is songkran, so i will be sure to write an account of the most festive time in thailand as it comes to pass.

hope all is well with you and that you are either still awake after reading my update or have had a restful sleep. as a very wise woman often says: work hard, be happy, make friends. cheers.

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