Monday, December 21, 2009

First Day at School:

Up at six, in van by 8, then to school about a half hour away. I am there four hours--including a lunch period. Lunch is provided. (Today it was rice, ginger chicken and veggies.)

Had already met a few teachers yesterday and today was supposed to be an "observation" day but I wound up "teaching" about Hawaii to two large classes of 30 plus students each. I drew a map of Maui on the chalk board and explained where I lived and something about the island. They were especially interested in whales but if the teacher had not been translating much of what I said, I'm not sure how much they would have understood. I tried to speak slowly and simply, write words on the chalk board and have them repeat some.

The teacher, Wan Li, has excellent English skills and is trying to get the students ready for the important National exam that the 15 year olds must take next year. A passing score for that exam is 40 but the typical score is 8-10.

She gave me the curriculum book they are using and it's really difficult. They must have a high degree of speaking proficiency to pass that test--which will largely determine their futures. I am to help get them to converse more freely because the test is largely an "interview" or "conversation."

Tomorrow, we start "conversing." But today was "show and tell."

She asked me to demonstrate hula, which I did and which I hope will spark some discussion of stories being told in the dance. I just did a few steps and showed them a palm tree, mountains, stars, waves, etc. This they loved.

Wan Li has asked me to "perform" next week for the end of the year celebration. (Gonna have to make time to practice--but not sure when that will happen with the busy schedule we are keeping. So glad I brought one mumuuu and a ribbon lei to wear.)

Will take my camera tomorrow--had to ask first if it would be okay--and try to get some photos.

Wan Li is a lovely person and everyone was so gracious and kind. Love the people here. They have all been so wonderful to all of us.

Toured several other placements yesterday--day care center and another school, plus had two hours of Thai language lessons, then went to a local restaurant last night for dinner. Also visited a temple where the monks were chanting. (Thought I had my camera in my bag and didn't, dang it!)

So no photos of all that.

Am struggling to get down basic phrases. Thai is a tonal language with five tones. That means that one word can have five entirely different meanings. Heck, Chinese only has four tones! And I thought Thai would be easier. My head is swimming with Thai words and phrases. We are expected to pick up as much as possible and to use it, as the majority of folks speak little or no English. Politeness requires that we master at least basic things.

We are leaving to see Thai boxing very shortly. I will take my camera this time.

Sa Waa Dee Ka....
(all purpose greeting)

Until the next time...


  1. All I can say is WOW! You inspire me, Pam! Makes me want to do more every day reading all that you are up to. So impressed!

  2. i second that, Jared!