Teaching English in Thailand: Day 48, Famous Singers and New Friends

Day 48: Monday 10th August 

A very tired Monday was on the cards for both Kanang and I, after my busy weekend and her weekend filled with teacher-training seminars. I feel bad for her and the other English teachers from school, who had seminars all day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday’s one finishing at 7pm! Perhaps, for once, Kanang was more tired than me! Maybe, just maybe.

We began the school day with an assembly to practice the next day’s events. It is Thai mother’s day on Wednesday, so all of the schools celebrate on Tuesday as the school is closed on Wednesday- another day off, yippee! So, we had a three hour practice of the activities for the next day. It mostly consisted of the students, who sat neatly in their lines the whole time, singing and watching whatever was going on. The teachers congregated at the back of the hall and chatted, ate, slept.. pretty much anything they wanted to do. I was enjoying the singing from the kids, whilst drinking tasty water from a fresh coconut that I bought from the canteen for 15 baht - about 30p- bargain!

It was soon time for lunch, where I was SO excited to chow down on some tasty som tam! I watched the lady at the little food ‘restaurant’ making it today, as I have never seen- only heard. You see, there is an art to making som tam. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry can just whip up some raw papaya and call it som tam… It takes a bit of brute force and elbow grease! It’s made in a huge pestle and mortar and includes some risky in-air chopping of the papaya, and a lot of bashing bits about inside the huge pot. It’s a wonder the salad doesn’t come out looking like s smashed up fruit salad!
Som Tam in progress
Because of this mammoth rehearsal session, two of my lessons were cancelled, leaving me with only two more lessons in the afternoon. I was kind of excited to teach these classes, firstly because I had actually written down a plan which I was confident with, and also because one of the classes was M6/3, who are all 18 year old boys who really don’t want to be there! I trotted along to their class with my little cardboard clock and the teacher came a few minutes later and announced that they weren’t coming. “They want to practise their music for tomorrow”. So that was that- no class! Rather than plonking myself back at my desk, I thought I’d go and find them, wherever it was they were, practising their music. I found a boy carrying a guitar so I attempted to have a chat with him about the guitar and the band whilst following him like a creep! It wasn’t a successful chat, but at least I made it to the ‘music room’, if you can call a dark, dusty and cobweb-ridden shed that. I invited myself into the room, where the older boys’ rehearsal was in full swing. It was pretty cool to see them playing their instruments and confidently singing; contrastingly to what I see of them in the classroom where they barely make a sound and freeze if I walk over to them.

Outside of the ‘music room’ were some more students from M4, who were just chilling. I don’t know what they were meant to be doing or if they should have been in class- but I’m the cool teacher that doesn’t tell them what to do if it doesn’t concern me! Three people turned up in a car and came over to us. They turned out to be old students from the school who were just visiting. The girl came and sat straight down next to me, and started speaking in English. She is called Lita and studies English at University, so we had a fairly good chat! She helped me talk to the kids, and with her help, I was able to teach a few of them a game of Fives (a bit like rock, paper scissors) which seemed a bit confusing for a long time, then they finally got it! Lita came with me for a walk around the school grounds and then to visit some of the teachers that taught her a few years ago. She took a selfie of us and put it on Facebook, and within 20 minutes it had 160 likes….. Is she some kind of celeb? Or am I? I have no idea! P.s, check out the likes now!

We went back to the music room and listened to her two guy friends singing, who are apparently (locally) famous singers. One of the students from M3 also hopped up to the mic to blow me away with her incredible voice. It was so beautiful to watch them singing traditional Thai country music in the dirty old room with no backing music- with such confidence! Even with me- the scary farang- sitting right at their feet. I certainly feel a little closer to the students now that they opened themselves up to me today and I got to know some of their personalities a little. 

Hopefully I will continue in this way, building more friendships with the students who have so far been too scared to even say hello to me, and who shy away every time I wave at them. Small steps, small steps! Or "poco a poco' as ETA Phoebe would say.


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