I spent my Saturday meeting families of the high school students in my village. Although I am not teaching at the high school, I was invited by the principal to accompany Steph. I was more than happy to attend, since meeting people in the community and practicing my Thai are both good options on a free Saturday. About 45 minutes into the first meeting, however, I began to think otherwise. I’ve realized that I quickly get distracted and/or daydream in situations where speakers present in all Thai, for the obvious reasons. By this point I had taken out my camera to document the large gathering of families, the assortment of sandals discarded at the edge of the tile floor, and the beautiful skirts the elder women were wearing. As I was fooling around with camera angles to take “artistic” pictures of my feet, I realized a hush had fallen over the crowd and as I looked up, I saw the principal staring right at me and Steph! Apparently he had just called us up to the front to introduce ourselves and here I am perched over my feet with a camera. Whoops. I quickly recovered by correctly introducing myself in the only full sentences I know how to say, the ones I have been repeating since arriving about a month ago. I did mess up on my nickname but I now know how to say it with the correct tones and vowel sounds. I also found out today what I was actually saying: instead of “Rice Leaf” I was calling myself “White Leaf.” Not an entirely inaccurate description of myself, I admit, but generally a nonsensical one for the people of Thailand.
Despite the rocky start, the day was actually very insightful and I am happy for the experience. All of the meetings (there were four total) were held at various local Buddhist temples, or wats, in the village. I saw one of my students at a meeting and it was nice to meet her mom. I saw her mother by herself before the meeting and thought she looked just like this student, so I was pleased to find out later she actually was her daughter. It was also fun chatting with the high school students at the meetings because several have very good English. They were curious about my parents’ names, how old my siblings were, and what I studied at the university. The highlight of the day was random, though. Towards the end of the last meeting Steph and I were sitting with two high school teachers who saw one of our tampons and asked what it was. Women in Thailand, or at least in the northeast, don’t seem to use them. We actually have not found tampons sold anywhere, which is really peculiar to us. Anyways, they were curious, so Steph gave them one to look at. So here we are in the middle of a temple having a hands-on feminine hygiene discussion! In the end they seemed pretty resistant to the idea of it all….
Well tomorrow is Sunday, which means sleeping in (at least until 7:00am, if the rooster permits it), laundry, and lots of lesson planning. Oh yes, and checking the Badgers vs. Wolverines score when I wake up. On Wisconsin!