Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dan Chang 2

We are officially teachers! Today, we were asked to teach two classes for a sick co-worker. We are finding out that Thai culture is more reactive than proactive, the sick teacher is our neighbor here at the campground, but we were not asked to teach until 9:15am, class started at 9am. We had a flight of stairs to determine our lesson place for the day. You can sympathize with us a bit when you imagine being summoned to teach your first class without any prior idea of where the students are in their curriculum and ability level. In fact, we still are not real sure of the grade we taught this morning, they were around 8-10, we think...Anyway, we were able to co-teach the class which made things a bit easier and lessons were learned on both sides. We hope the students will remember the words to Itsy, Bitsy Spider and maybe that our names are Deb and Joe and not Daab and Gogh. I learned that I cannot write a straight sentence on a chalkboard, everything angled down like it was about to fall off the board. Deb learned that even her loud voice was not enough to gain complete listening ears from 35 Thai students. The kids absolutely do not sit still, talking to others is as common as breathing and I am pretty sure the group of boys in the back were shooting a game of craps, maybe it was Pokemon...

After that we were asked to teach at 11:20am, class started at 11, see the pattern? This time we knew the grade, 3rd. Reviewing game tape from our earlier foray into the classroom, we started immediately with a quiz about parts of the body. Focusing specifically on the ears, eyes and nose we hoped the lesson of listen and look would stick, it did a little, but then Deb busted out 5 Little Monkeys and the room sounded like a Metallica concert was about to start. I will record and definitely release an album of Thai children singing nursery rhymes, they loved it! Especially when we put in place hand gestures and the jumping on the bed part of the song looked more like a bar when the song Jump Around is played, kids were moshing each other and a few heads were literally bumped! Needless to say, we are minor celebrities after that act, it was stellar.

We then spent the afternoon in an outdoor auditorium watching the children practice for the Loi Krathong festival that will occur this weekend and wrap up on Monday evening with a huge entertainment show put on by the students. Loi Krathong celebrates water and all it brings to the land. The children sing songs, perform dances and have made banana leaf boats to be floated down the local river. Deb and I along with the other foreign teachers are signing a song named Loi Krathong, coincidentally, in front of everyone on Monday night. When we practiced today in front of the children I thought I heard a faint chant of 5Little Monkeys, 5 Little Monkeys, they wanted an encore I believe. Maybe, just maybe, they will get one!

Common questions from home have included, how are you? the kids?your place? and the typical Minnesota question, how is the weather? Continually saying its hot and humid does not do it justice, hot and humid is a constant. I knew it was a hot country when I started noticing that all the cars here have only blue on the inside air temperature gauge, you turn it from light blue to dark blue, there are no heaters in the cars here, no joke. I am developing a rating for the different types of hot and humid. Like today for instance, it was about 85, with 85% humidity, that is bearable. Yesterday was 90 and humid with a boiling sun that baked the lint between my toes to a crisp. That is hotter than...

It needs refining, but you get the point. The classrooms do not have AC, but staff at the school are quick to point out that they are equipped with fans. That should make it better, right? Wrong. Next time its 85 and sunny near you turn on your car and put the heat on with blower going at you, welcome to Dan Chang.

Heat, bugs and language barrier aside, this country, the town and and people are beautiful. We have been treated to a number of spectacular sunsets and wonderful hospitality from the Thai people. It is this we came for and are most definitely receiving.


  1. So are you guys on a tenure track already? When are you going to try some reverse mind play games and tell the school administrators that you already taught the 11AM class at 10 AM? Can't wait for another installment.


  2. This is great stuff! You will need to make a book of it!
    Kathy Baxter

  3. The finger plays must be heridetary on the Joe side with mother and godmother both children's librarians...although I never did care for that traditional activity! More, more, more from you both as your time permits. I'm wondering how Debbie's hair fares in that humidity! Gretchen