Sam Thompson

Father's Day

Honouring and respecting the Thai King


The past week at school hasn't been the most productive in terms of teaching; Monday was eaten up by some kind of Buddhism testing for the youngest students and all of the older ones who hadn't passed it before, Tuesday had a two hour Father's Day ceremony that took up the first three classes' time, Wednesday we had no school, and Friday we had some kind of fundraiser that took up most of the morning.

So, all in all, class time wasn't in abundance. With the exception of my Mathayom 1 class, which I've been trying to make sure I time right to not run out of material to teach before midterm at the end of the month, having so many missed classes all week put a strain on my timeframe for finishing projects and chapters. Once again, I say: don't bother planning too much in a Thai school, because the schedule WILL change. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
Monday's testing wasn't announced to the foreign teachers, so none of us knew why our M1 students didn't show up to class until we hunted down a few other students to ask what was going on. I find the whole thing highly amusing, but if you're the kind of person who can't roll with the punches, so to say, I can see how such a lack of information would be infuriating.

I'm still not exactly sure what the testing was about. All I could get out of the students later was that it was about Buddhism. I figure if I really need to know, someone will tell me... eventually.

Tuesday's ceremony was quite interesting. I have no blooming idea what was going on, but I showed up in a nice yellow/gold tie with a gold flower I bought from a Thai teacher earlier in the week to show my support for the King; yellow is the King's color.

I can also reiterate previous comments by saying that Thais love a good show. They also love to talk, usually as loudly as possible. It was quite interesting to see the whole two hour Father's Day ceremony, complete with gifts to the King (who had a large shrine set up in the assembly area), gifts and certificates to fathers (of the students), traditional Thai dancers, and a student band.

I took quite a few pictures of the whole ceremony. This being Thailand, as a foreign teacher, I needed to "be seen" at the ceremony, but not knowing what my role was supposed to be in this ordeal, I tried to stay respectably out of the "heat of the action," so to say. The ceremony was held outside, so I moved about taking pictures when I saw fit and only came into the middle of things when it was time for group photos at the end of the ceremony.

Thais love nothing more than to have their picture taken. Seriously, vanity isn't seem as vanity here... it's seen as normal. Nothing wrong with that... I love taking pictures! But most of the Thai teachers that know me in any way wanted to have their picture taken with me too. I guess I'm the token white guy!

One of my foreign teacher colleagues who also speaks Thai says the teachers fight over who'll get to be my co-teachers next semester. Remembering that I'm not in the heart of Bangkok's international district, I think I'm still a novelty to the school and its teachers. I'm flattered!

Needless to say, this being Bangkok, I was drenched by the end of the long ceremony, and had to just deal with being sticky for the rest of the day. I only had two classes that day since the ceremony took the time from my first two classes, and I just went with it.

Friday's impromptu fundraiser was interesting too, but I admit that I didn't partake. I was told I could walk around the school with the kids (it appeared to be some kind of walk-a-thon with raffle prizes and everything), but I really didn't feel like getting hot and sweaty only to have to teach in the afternoon again. Call me lame.

Besides, I didn't find out about that particular thing until I happened to hear about it while about to leave school the day before. So I pretended not to know about it.

Long story short: Thai schools and their impromptu events are interesting, if not highly entertaining. The pace of life is completely different than most Western cultures, and I, for one, think the decreased emphasis on structure is a good thing.




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