When I look back on the 2nd half of March and April, I see a whirlwind. Let me tell you about it.
March 16-17 I went up to Chiang Mai with a friend to just to get away. I hadn’t left my site in about a month and needed to get away…hence started the busyness.
March 17-21 I went over to Mae Sot to help with a friend’s English Camp. Mae Sot is in my province, about 3 hours from my site and directly on the Myanmar boarder. I took a picture next to the friendship bridge between Thailand and Myanmar. The camp was ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) themed. I was in charge of Brunei one day and the Philippines the other. We played Brunei money bingo and finger Filipino Christmas words. It was fun and I was surprised how easy it was. All the lessons were already planned out and the Thai teachers were very helpful and had excellent English.
March 23 Came back to site just in time for Sports Day! Actually the whole month of March had been a continuous sports day. It was between all the district offices in the equivalent of Ban Tak county. All month we had been having girl’s volleyball matches, girl’s and men’s bocce ball matches, men’s soccer, footsal, and degraw match. Oh, and practices too — after and during the last hours of work. March 23 was the climax with the wacky-Olympic like sports, complete with a ten-legged race, potato sack race, cheers, cheerleaders, and plenty of beer (Disclaimer: I do not drink at site). I was part of the very prestigious have a soup spoon in your mouth while balancing a ping-pong ball on it and run across the field. We had been having practice for this two weeks in advance, everyday. For about an hour of work. Thais take sports competition very seriously. My team, tessaban Ban Tak, got second. All the people kept saying I could run really fast.
After the activities, there was a dinner and a band complete with “dancers” for entertainment. Everyone was dancing, but I was freaking out about my mini-English Camps I understood there was going to be 200 students there and just one me. If you can’t beat em, however, join them. I finally just let loose and danced the night away.
March 28: This was the first of four mini English Camps I held (Turns outs I only had about 40 kids, much more doable). For the Peace Corps volunteers, holding English Camps is a common thing. I have checked blogs from other countries and it seems English Camps are one of the things to do. Now, before Mike’s I had never actually been to a real English Camp during my service. Most of the English Camps going on were about ASEAN. I have heard enough about ASEAN. I wanted to do something fun. If I were a kid here I think ASEAN would be similar to Character Counts (Alex, you know what I am talking about).
Each Camp had its own theme. For the first one, I made the theme simple….geography. I had the kids make a map and label it in English–Thais are really good at drawing.
Best part: the relay at the end. I made cards with words that made a conversation. The sentences were color coded. The kids had to run across the room grab one card and run back. Them they had to correctly order the sentences and words in the sentence.
March 30-April 5: Mid-Service Conference
It seems like Peace Corps conferences are always draining and a little too much talking, yet still fun. There was Mexican food, a movie, malls, skytrains and a dentist appointment. I liked it a lot better than Reconnect. By the weekend, though, I was ready to go back to site. I was leading a camp on Tuesday and had not planned anything. Some people were having problems getting bus tickets back because of the upcoming holiday (Songkron), but luckily I was able to snag one that left in an hour.
2nd mini English Camp. Monday was a holiday, on which all I did was plan my 2nd English Camp. It was harder because my computer was acting weird. The theme was Around Town with vocabulary such as post office, restaurant, school, etc.
April 11: Tessaban celebrated Songkron. We trucked the old people in the backs of pickups to the pavilion by the river. The special water pouring ceremony was performed to honor the elderly. After that, there was beer and dancing of course. Then I was ready to leave again…time for a real break!
VACATION!!! I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to go down South after Mid-service because I had to finish my lesson plan or the camp. I wanted to go to the beach. Some friends of mine were going to the Koh Tao (pronounced Gawh Dtao which means turtle island) and invited me. I said why not. I decided this on Tuesday and left on Thursday…that’s kind of how things go in Thailand. You have a general idea of what you want and its very last minute when all the details get figured out.
Anyway, I had a fabulous time! Highlights included: dancing the night away, cinnamon rolls and the best sandwiches in the world, swing dancing, getting soaking wet, sitting on bean bags watching guys do gymnastics on the beach, watching the fire-twirlers, and climbing to the top of a hill/mountain overlooking the whole island.
I would not call the Koh Tao part of Thailand. It seemed like somewhere between California and Hawaii, with a lot of European tourists and divers.
I made a list soon after I got back on the mainland of ways I know I returned to Thailand:
-People are tan instead of red with sunburn
-there are telephone wires and electric wires everywhere
-the people working in the shops are not foreigners and do not understand English
-Thai soap operas is the station of choice, not BBC World News
Came back for English camp. It was Science themed! I taught them words like experiment, prediction and explode. We did the build-a-tower-out-of-just-paper. And then we actually performed an experiment, the mentos/ pop experiment. (Sidenote: I couldn’t find 2 liter diet Coke, turns out Thailand has a deficiency of diet coke.). We tested out different types of pop. It turns out Coke and Fanta are very good at exploding, but the Sprite did nothing.
My favorite part of all the camps was watching the terrified faces of the kids as we dropped the mentos in, and then seeing the explosion!
April 27 big monk ordination=still more dancing
April 36 Tessaban’s birthday. We celebrated by playing bocce ball and some more dancing.
May 2: My last English camp. It was music themed. They learned the names of the different genres of music and the characteristics. My favorite part was teaching them the cupid shuffle. Thais are usually shy, but they were getting into the dance.
*From then till now, just getting back in the swing of things. The schools started up, and I have gradually been getting back into them (For some reason they are having a ton of meetings, so I will start teaching someday). They have their schedules, but of course that’s not their final schedules. Also have planning for this year. And catching up on blogs. I think you should be all caught up on my life by now.
*Note: A bit more has happened since the beginning of May (like my birthday), but nothing too big and this post is already long enough.