I've finally hit the books.
After two weeks of Orientation, side-trips, exploring and lots of Thai food - school officially started on Tuesday. My normally quiet end of town was bumping with activity when I stepped out the door on Tuesday in my new pink polo shirt (sooo trendy!), there were policeman directing traffic and mopeds zooming by with 2, 3, 4 students piled on back.
Side note: I'm amazed at the way people ride mopeds here, I've seen people driving with a 2 year old on their lap, a boy on the back eating his breakfast of champions (noodles) on the way to school, a girl reading a book, and one woman in stiletto heels riding sidesaddle holding on with one hand while clutching her purse with the other. At one point I would like to master the art of riding a moped, but for now I'm a little too scared. I somehow don't think it's appropriate to grab on to the driver and wrap myself around him praying for my life.
As I mentioned previously, school has been a continual lesson of "Mai Pen Rai" or "Don't Worry About It." I feel very blessed to be a part of the English Program at Sa-Nguan Ying because the small class sizes and excellent staff of fellow teachers has made for an easier adjustment, but there are still so many unanswered questions. The textbooks we have been given are fairly thorough but also terribly boring - I just can't handle the idea of teaching my students a unit on Cosmetic Surgery, the Mobius Band, and Blood Types! I will, however, definitely be tackling the chapters on Rodeos, International Baseball, and Jennifer Lopez. I've been given very little insight on what topics were previously covered or where to begin, and the curriculum is pretty much up to me - which is both a good thing and a not so good thing. It's been a lot of work and a lot of studying and research, but I'm enjoying it. If any teachers out there have suggestions on games/activities for reading & writing I would so appreciate you sending it my way!
I've adjusted quickly to the idea of being barefoot all the time, I have to take off my shoes before I enter my classrooms and before I enter the teacher's office - it will be an interesting transition when I go back to the corporate world, somehow I don't think barefoot meetings would go over so well. I have not adjusted to the idea of using a squat toilet at work...and bringing my own toilet paper to the bathroom with me. Luckily, they remodeled 2 of the bathroom stalls so they now feature Western-style toilets (with a seat) so that will hopefully be a one time experience.
Nell and I got a great shout-out on the school's website, I'll let you read our introductions (if you know Thai) I like how they included our birthdays - apparently I was born in 2528. Nice. http://www.sy-ep.org/UserFiles/File/TEACH.pdf
This weekend I'm off to Bangkok with some friends to live the good life at someones family friend's penthouse suite - I'm sure it will be a very interesting weekend! There is a great group of fellow American teachers in our apartment, I'm sure they will be a very valuable support system as we get more involved in teaching, but they are also great people to grab a Singha with after school or travel around the country with to take in our new surroundings.
Here's a few pics of the school, it resembles a college campus in many ways, there are almost 3,000 students and about 95% girls, lucky dudes! : )