Days Like This…

…make it all worthwhile. A short little ditty about what makes a PCV’s heart go a fluttering. Sorry about the photo quality, I only had my Itouch, but I had to capture this moment.

Today, I stepped out of the normal lesson plan and showed a youtube video (there are six parts, watch the first part here) about the flooding in Thailand that another Volunteer sent around. The audio is in Thai and has English subtitles. Since we are in one of the affected provinces, I thought this would be worthwhile for my students to watch as a bit of environmental awareness and some critical thinking. I had watched the youtube videos previously, written down some notes, and hoped my coteacher would lead a discussion. She took it up a notch and we had an idea for a project in five minutes.

Splitting our students up into three groups each handling one part of the videos we showed, we gave them questions in English that they had to translate, then answer in Thai, and then try to make up some English sentences. (Honestly, when they get a subject, a verb, or a place thrown together, I’m a happy camper.) Then they were going to do a ‘mapping’ project using large poster sheet paper (which totally brought me back to the constant ‘debriefs’ we had in PST). Next class, they’re presenting their work.

I almost scrapped the whole idea when my coteacher told me fifteen minutes before class that all but two of the girls (and my best students) would be going to the temple to serve food. (This isn’t new and it infuriates me that they take them out of class to essentially waitress for random ‘important’ people in the community, deep breath Erin.) There are some good male specimens in my sixth grade class, but if I’m realistic, most of them are gangsters as my grandmother would say. They, however, blew me away. And I got photographic evidence.

Bringing technology in the classroom, we huddled around my macbook, but they were on their knees craning over each other to watch the clip, this alone was pretty jaw-dropping to me

Getting this group of boys to hit the books was something I never thought I would witness

Working together instead of beating each other up or giving me grief... is this an alternate universe?

The boy looking at the camera is particularly prickily when it comes to English, but he was at least quiet and feigned interest (that's a win)

Finished project and a big smile

They told me they were the most handsome looking group so they were going to have the prettiest poster, do you agree?

I had to hide my face more than once from them so they didn’t see the tears of happiness in my eyes. I have to be the tough guy with them to keep their respect. Instead I made them run laps when they were sloppy and scolded them when they spoke impolitely. But with a smirk on my face.

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but to me, it’s motivation to keep going, to keep trying, to not give up on the boys that have already given up on themselves or the sometimes crazy Thai education system. I only have about another sixteen months here. Better make it count.

More Things About the Flooding

I would never post asking for money unless I believed completely in the cause. This is one of them. I mentioned the record flooding presently ravaging my beautiful Peace Corps host country in a previous post, but I forgot to mention to go into detail about something vastly more important. Ayutthaya, where I spent the first two and a half months in Thailand is one of the worst hit provinces in Thailand. Homes, places of work, and ancient sites have been totally destroyed. People are confined to their homes (second floor if they have one) unless they have a boat. There are talks that it will take months for the water to fully drain. In short, it’s looking bleak.

I've been here, this picture doesn't even compute properly into my memory

A UNESCO world heritage site

A Volunteer's house from my neighborhood, her house is up on a mini-hill/driveway off of the road and the water is still creeping up, the sad thing is, they're one of the lucky ones

To help our families, some of the Volunteers in my group have set up a website to make direct contributions to them. Any money raised will be split 66 ways and given to our families to help them rebuild their lives. This idea stemmed from the fact that we are not yet allowed to travel to Ayutthaya because of the dangers of getting in and out. When we can go, I can guarantee that a group will be going back to help our families in any way that we can.

My host parents

I would not have made it through PST without this woman

Can't you see the family resemblance?

They may not be your family, but they are mine. Please help any way that you can.

Just a Few FYIs

Though Thailand is going through some of the worst flooding in its history, my site is perfectly fine. Despite the brutal bike rides, this is one positive I can’t overlook in the site placement arrangements. Our host families in Ayutthaya though, are not quite as lucky. Some people have as much as four feet of water in their homes, cannot leave, and are living on the second floor on their homes, if they have one. Some people are crying out for the government to do something and unhappy with the response to flood preparation. Check out this article for more information about the complaints. It would be great if the Thai government were more prepared for this disaster, but then you have to get Thai people behind it too. With their live in the moment attitude and letting problems roll off of their backs, would the government be able to motivate people to change?

Picture from the article link above, the unfortunate scene for many central Thais, though she has a smile on her face!

Stole this photo from another Volunteer, kids always find the best part about every situation everywhere in the world

TGI-Bpit Term or close term if you want to get technical. This semester is over and with a month-long break, the blog might be going on hiatus for a weekish here. I’d tell you the itinerary, but I’m following advice from an article to avoid random stalkers showing up (hahahaha), always wait until after you go to broadcast to the world where you are.

I don’t quite leave yet, but I’m totally flustered preparing myself to go. What is it about Thailand and I suddenly don’t know how to pack my bags effectively anymore? And I’m forgetting important things like chargers and soap and the like. Clear sign that this vacation is much-needed despite my unhappiness about the impending night bus travel that’s going down. Shutter. And that whole bit about leaving my safe little site bubble that is always overwhelming due to costs and the Thai people that don’t see me except for big, white moneybags. Seeing a travel friend who is not PC and will be meeting teachers from her school, go-go extrovert go. This is when I stop questioning myself, pack my bags, and enjoy the first true vacation (I’m actually using my built up days here people!) in my Peace Corps service and pretty much the past year. Call me ‘Posh Corps’ but I’ll be pampering myself to National Parks, white sand beaches, and hot showers, thank you very much, so shove it.

Yes, I'm going back here, wouldn't you?

Ok, so this post didn’t really break any new ground. Mostly I want to say is don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for the week. Ok Gail Coop?