Tag Archives: bingo

The Hokey Pokey, Bingo, and other daily surprises

Living in Thailand, it’s often easier to post about the traditional ceremonies I take part in or interesting places I visit than it is to reflect on why I moved to Southeast Asia in the first place. Today I thought it would be good to share some of the daily experiences with my students, especially since the time in which I have to do so is quickly winding down. It is hard to believe that ten months ago today I began my journey, parting ways with my parents at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee to meet who I now refer to as my WorldTeach family in Los Angeles for our departure flight. With only a handful of weeks left to teach I am becoming increasingly aware of what little time I have to spend with the students I have grown to adore.

It is impossible to pinpoint one specific aspect of my day that keeps me looking forward to the next. It’s really a combination of all the little things: the daily bouquets of flowers presented to me, freshly picked from trees lining the school grounds. The way my students hide behind my desk as I’m walking into my classroom and shout “Surprise!” (one of the vocabulary words from our emotions unit) to startle me. How my students exclaim “Bingo!” now when they are finished with their work (the game was apparently a big hit). And how I catch them practicing the pencil-bending trick at their desks when they should be paying attention to the lesson at hand. Each day brings a new twist and I never know what I am going to expect.

Today was a great example of this. One of my favorite first graders recently discovered that he could close his mouth and suck in  his nostrils, a trick he felt the need to show me several times throughout the day. My third graders were appalled to see pictures of a snowman, which was a part of our weather unit activity in class, and were also really interested to know whether or not they could eat the snow. I said yes, but I probably should have mentioned to stay away from anything yellow. And I was surprised to get my first encore after class from a second grader, who requested The Hokey Pokey as a closing song to our alphabet lesson.

There never seems to be a dull moment at my schools, which makes for exciting (and often comical) days. I’m hoping to soak up as much as I can during the following weeks as well as fit in a few more magic tricks and songs to leave for them after I return to the States.


Just another day like no other

Each day I am growing more accustomed to the unexpected. Last minute schedule changes, unannounced visitors, and random tasks assigned at seemingly inappropriate times are all status quo here in Thailand. While it was surprising (and at times frustrating) at first, I am becoming more comfortable with this aspect of Thai culture and usually find myself responding “sure, why not” to the aforementioned circumstances.

Today for instance, was yet another day of unexpected events. I woke up early to practice yoga and make coffee before a skype date and I ran out the door just after 8:00am (late as usual…some things never change). I waited about 10 minutes for Pi Tuk (my fellow English teacher) who was also late. She finally pulled up in her husband’s truck (the battery in her car died, explaining the tardiness) and before I could climb in she handed me three plastic bags of student uniforms for me to run to the tailor down the road for embroidering. I repeated the phrase she told me over and over in my head as I walked them up to the shopkeeper so I didn’t mess up the order (it would be horrible to have to edit all the embroidery…).

After dropping off the clothing I jumped into the truck and we were on our way-or so I thought. When we took a right turn away from the school instead of a left, Pi Tuk explained that she needed to get her hair dried. I glanced at her damp hair, considered inquiring about my 9:00am class, but changed my mind and said “oh, okay.” She pulled up to a barber’s shop and we chatted briefly with a woman outside. Pi Tuk said something about rice noodles-perhaps the woman we were speaking with was making them? Then we sat down inside the barber’s shop (which smelled like wet dog) and Pi Tuk started plucking gray hairs from her head since the stylist wasn’t there yet. I know this because she actually showed them to me before throwing them out the window. By this time it was approaching 8:30 so we went back to the truck and started driving away, just as the stylist was arriving. Pi Tuk was about to park the truck again when I mentioned I needed to print some materials before my class, and we departed for school.

Two minutes into the ride Pi Tuk told me matter-of-factly that all my classes would be shifted to the morning (taking away my prep-time) since she had to go into Nakhon Phanom right after lunch to fix her car. “Oh, okay” was my response, but my thoughts were “Half-day on a Friday? Yes!” then “No prep time? Yikes!” Once I got to school, though, things were fine. I was able to print the materials I needed for all three classes and had great lessons. The highlight of the day was teaching the students how to play bingo and watching their faces light up when they got to shout it out loud.

This afternoon I met Steph for dress rehearsal at the high school. That’s right, dress rehearsal. We are performing a traditional Thai dance tomorrow evening for Father’s Day, or the King’s Birthday. My dancing partner (the one I stand behind and use as a guide in all my moves) was absent so I had to struggle through the steps by memory. It took a while to get used to the dress and jewelry we have to wear; we are going to be decked out in gold-chained belts, choker necklaces and arm cuffs, not to mention tiaras! My outfit is super-tight too since most Thais are tiny so I hope I don’t pass out tomorrow!

After practice as we pulled up to our house on bikes, I heard Steph exclaim “Is that our dinner?” and sure enough, there was dinner, hanging from a nail off the front of our house. Without a second thought I grabbed it, unlocked the door, and we sat down to a meal that was only interrupted twice by the neighbor’s dog Cha-Daam, eager to see us after a long day. Like I said, just another day.


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