My Mother Would Not Approve…

When I was a child, and all throughout my teenage years, my parents instilled in me that if ever I was in a situation where ‘mom n’ dad’ would think it unsafe, that I should leave or stop what I’m doing. To be honest these words of advice have managed to keep me out of a lot of trouble and have given me, for the most part, a healthy conscience.
..Until I moved to Thailand. Most of what takes place here and what I do, my mother would not approve of.
Sometimes you don’t realise how truly sketchy something is until it’s too late and already happening. My mother’s face literally flashed before my eyes in disapproval as I was sitting in the middle of two other people on the back of a motorbike going up pitch-dark mountain roads to get to a full-moon party this weekend. The guy behind me was 6’2, I’m 6’1 and the girl driving was quite tall as well. With nowhere to put my feet, I had to flex my thighs for twenty minutes to keep my feet from dangling too close to the ground. Did I mention the motorbike was barely making it up the hills? We all had to lean forward and I had to hold on to the guy’s thighs behind me, Ron, for dear life.
But we made it to the party! And saw some amazing stars on the way from it being so dark.
On the way back, I think from the amount of weight we had on the motorbike a few hours prior, the back tire went flat.
I thought we were going to have to walk home, without Ron this time, but my friend driving said “Nah girl, get on. We’ll drive slowly”. So there we were, in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark mountains of Thailand, alone, with a flat tire and still managing to drive back over hills and turns to our motel. We were driving at a snail’s pace and we were able to talk about our favorite places to visit in Thailand the whole way back. I was impressed at how smoothly we were handling the situation.
When we pulled up to the motel, our friends thought we were heavily intoxicated because of how wobbly the motorbike was from the flat tire.
The next morning, I found myself awake before everyone else, as is the norm. I got up, went outside, and drank some water and read my e-book that I can never seem to ever finish, The Great Gatsby. Around 9:00AM I started getting antsy and decided to go on a coffee search up the road.
As I slowly made my way, I noticed that nothing was open, so I turned around, disappointed, and decided to walk back to the motel. There were three Thai men sitting at a table drinking beer as I walked by the closed coffee shops. They were laughing and listening to music and said hello. They asked me what I was looking for and they found someone to open up the shop for me to get an iced coffee. I thought to myself, how kind! When I paid for my coffee one of the men waved and said ‘friend! Sit!’.
I was slightly reluctant but smiled and sat anyway.
They offered me beer and I accepted. It was 9:30 AM in the morning but hey, whatever.
For the next hour we shared beer and cigarettes and serenated each other with songs from Adele, Maroon 5 and Beyoncé. It was incredibly random and absolutely wonderful. We both knew very little of each other’s language but it didn’t stop us from spending time and laughing together.
They were drinking because they were waiting for a bus and had a 4 hour drive ahead of them. Their plan was to visit a city called Udon Thani and they invited me along. To be honest, I was tempted! But I explained that I had plans with my friends that were still asleep.
When my group of friends  went their separate ways for the day, me and another girl decided to stop for some lunch on or way back because it started pouring rain. Motorbikes, mountain roads and monsoon-like rain are not a good combination. We had plans to go visit a temple but were now unsure with the sudden weather change. After lunch we were getting ready to leave and it started to downpour rain again. So, we sat our asses back down and cracked open a beer. We sat there in a quaint Thai restaurant and talked for over three hours until the rain subsided and then finally continued on get back home to Phetchabun.

What a crazy weekend. There is some more to this story but I won’t bore the world with all the details.
At the end of the day I was very entertained with how the mishaps of the weekend were what made room for the most wonderful and memorable moments. Maybe as in life in general, but I find myself reflecting on how a person absolutely has to be willing to roll with the punches, have an open heart, and appreciate the little things to live in Thailand and get the most out of it.
Even if more often than not, my mother would disapprove ;).

What was I thinking?

How often do you ask yourself this question?

Ever since I moved to Thailand, I ask myself this question quite often. For better or for worse,  I ask myself this particularly often when lesson planning. It usually happens once a day when  my ‘plan’s execution is a complete and utter disaster.

Like today for instance. I thought it would be a fine and dandy idea to form a circle with my kindergarten class and practise the alphabet and flashcards for 15 minutes.

What was I thinking?

15 minutes is way too long. That class, from what I have learned, can practise things no longer that 5 minutes at a time unless it’s made into a game. They ran around the room and lost all focus, and I lost all classroom management from being flustered. Games are challenging to play when you have limited resources and language to use for explanations.

I had the same class in the afternoon and tried to play a game that ended up taking half the class to set up.

What was I thinking?

In other words, today was hard.  I thought I was being an efficient planner when I wasn’t.

On days like today, when I barely have the energy to do anything else but sleep after work, and nearly every class has been a flop, I ask my self what I was thinking in deciding to teach  ESL kindergarten.

I’ve worked with people from all walks of life. Most of my experience has been spent in the non-profit industry. I have worked with organisations to alleviate poverty in communities, for organisations that support individuals with disabilities,with charities that pair adult mentors to children, and I have worked in challenging work environments such as homeless shelters.

But I have never, in my life, worked directly with children. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea. Or that I would be good at it.

What was I thinking?

With all that being said, I’m not giving up, and I don’t mean to complain. I’m thankful for the opportunity to improve my skills.

At the end of the day, my goal is to teach adults ESL. If I can get the hang of kindergarten, I can do anything. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

After all, I’m truly a beginner and have no prior experience. I work in very unstructured environment with 6 different classes of 35 five year old children who know very little of the language I use to teach them.

Maybe I should give myself credit for simply showing up.

On another positive side, it’s the end of the semester at my school (which means I get a month off to go exploring the country soon, yay!). This morning, my classes were all dressed up in their graduation gowns getting ready to take photos. They were adorable and very excited.