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Wai Kru Day!

the long awaited teacher day post.

sunny 95 °F

I have very vague memories of giving my teachers gifts. There were the years when my parents must have sent me to school with something in my booksack to say thank you. Then I know there was a time when I had a more active role in the gift-giving; the teachers I respected were suddenly the only ones on the receiving end. In Thailand, teachers are treated with a great amount of respect. The title 'ajarn' is often used outside of class by people who aren't even students. The woman across the street who makes my food, the cafeteria people, the parent of my students all use 'ajarn' with the appropriate amount of deference. When students walk near teachers having a conversation, they duck a little. Some students will why me through the window of our office, stopping in their tracks and bowing in my direction. When they actually come into the office , students never talk from a standing position, instead squatting or kneeling so as to not be above me. The one time I managed to have a girl to pull up a chair and sit down in it took some real convincing. At any point in time, I can send my students on errands—go grab books from my office, deliver my package to my room, or take ten baht to buy me a lemon tea. This type of respect obviously does not extend to every student, nor does it always extend into the classroom, but it characterizes how well established the roles are in the hierarchical systems that pervade Thailand. It has taken some getting used to in a lot of respects, kind of like how it takes some getting used to functioning in a fancy restaurant or hotel environment, but I have adjusted well. I no longer move out of the way on a staircase when met with a flood of students. I know that I don't always have to acknowledge their wais with anything more than a nod. I also am getting better with walking into a room and saying "Teacher needs this done. Which one of you will do it?" and expecting results.

With all of this in mind, I had been looking forward to Teacher Day for a while. I was not disappointed. The day started with all of the teachers and students lining up in front of one of the statues on campus. (I wish I knew more about what it was…sorry. I'll work on that.)

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The same fancy man in the white uniform that had welcomed all of the new students by chanting as we all held a string connecting us in a circle was leading the ceremony. It was RIDICULOUSLY hot. The teachers were doing their best to hang out in the shade while the students brought up a collection of gifts to the alter of this statue. Eventually, though, everyone was required to be in nicely respectful lines. Then came the praying, the incense, the chanting, the waiing. And the sweating.

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(Can you see me?)

Once the chanting stopped, the teachers went up and received blessings from the man in white—a powder and water mixture provided a dot on the right hand and a few dots on the forehead. Teachers then turned and gave the same to the students. It was like Ash Wednesday…Powder Thursday?

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Once we had all been properly blessed, we made it to the part that I was looking forward to: the gift giving. I had seen my students hanging around school very late the night before and when I asked what they were doing, they all gave me the same answer. Making these:

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The arrangements are made by each class of students, mostly out of flowers and other plant life, each symbolizing some quality. (Eggplant flowers symbolize respect because they bend low to the ground). They are beautiful. In the important event room at the top of the auto mechanics building, we sat trying to cool off as the students presented their gifts to us , waiing in the most respectful of position.

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A monk came and talked of the importance of teachers in everyone's lives. We were then given the rest of the day off.

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We used the free time to take a lot of photos. Teachers and students, teachers and teachers.

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This is a classic photo of a third of the English Department.

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Sometimes, the kids go a bit overboard. I think I have an idea what it would be like if I were a celebrity and Thai teenagers were the paparazzi.

Aaaaaannnnd some of my favorites:

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(That is a replica of the king's barge. Inscribed with DTEC. Not too shabby)

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Because what good is it working at a technical college if you don't get your students to rig something up with electrical wiring?

That's how Teacher Day should be done. The respect and flowers, electrical wiring optional.

Speaking of teaching, I have nine weeks left. In these nine weeks, I want to have a culture lesson, a review session, a final exam, and a "you can ask me ANYthing" day. That means I have 4 lessons of actual English teaching left. What?

Posted by decuirrl 01:40 Archived in Thailand Tagged events

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Comments

Wow! Those arrangements are impressive. I admire the patience needed to do something so precise.
Good luck with the last 4 lessons.

by cheryl

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