Monday, March 30, 2009
So, we went to the bus station today and bought tickets on the night bus to get us there! We'll leave tomorrow night and come back here (from the night train) on Saturday morning. Then, we'll pack again and head south for the beach!
This week we'll see more of Thailand than we have all year, and we're really excited about it!!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Having All the Girls in the Class Like Him: Boom
Asking to go to the Bathroom: Fay
Having the Biggest Poo-Poo Eraser (it's a Thai thing): Dream
Having the Best Eyes: Gade and Golf (the twins)
Asking Permission to Go Drink Water: Jame
Being Late to School: Junior
Being Gone Somewhere on Vacation: Max (who, ironically, was on vacation)
Having His Shirt Untucked: Meen
Asking to Borrow a Pencil: Yok
Hating to Run Laps in P.E. Class: Mew
Forgetting His Homework: Seven
Always Laughing: Pon
Spending the Most Time in the Classroom: Pukboong
Doing Everything Really Slowly: Plagrim
Sharing a Prayer Request: Nat
By the way, they all voted on these instead of me picking the winners for all of them. They really enjoyed it, I think!
It was a crazy week in that I was frantically trying to finish a little project called 'the binder'. GES has not received official accreditation from the Ministry of Education, so we have to prove (with pictures or worksheets or some other type of documentation) that we meet the national set standards. So, not only do we have to teach the things, but we have to document that we taught it. But it's done now! Hooray!
Aside from doing that, we watched a lot of movies, played a lot of games and went on a couple of field trips. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the Ice Skating field trip that we went on Wednesday because our camera had some issues. Ice skating was not my favorite thing, but a lot of the kids definitely enjoyed it! Only 14 went, so it was easier to keep track of them. We joined grades 5 and 6 for that trip. The other 'field trips' were just to the nearby 7-11 where I let the kids buy whatever they wanted.
Our last day, Friday the 27th, was the most memorable. We did a 7-11 run first thing, then we had our last flag time and went to chapel. During chapel, we sang some of the kids favorite songs, then we gave out awards for each class. These were the official awards like "Citizenship Award", highest score in P.E., Computers, Music, and then the Honors Awards.
After that, the kids were with their Thai teacher for awhile cleaning and packing up the classroom while I was finishing getting our house ready for the day.
Matt's class came over for a little while and watched a movie and ate pizza. Then, I cleaned up and got things ready for Round 2. Grade 4 (only 21 kids, plus 2 Thai teachers, plus some parents) came over after lunch. When they first came, I showed them the movie I had made for them (can't upload it because it's too big). They really loved it, which made me so happy. This is a picture of them watching it.
After showing their movie (which they each got a copy of), I passed out the class awards. These were silly and fun and everyone got one. I think I'll do a separate post for who got these awards. But, they were well-received, and everyone understood that they were meant to be fun and not too serious.
After the silly awards, the kids got to play Wii. They loved it! Seven had brought some games too, so since everyone couldn't play Wii, some kids played some of his games with him. They were at the house for about 3 hours, and they had a blast! It was so much fun to spend our last day together just hanging out.
I didn't want the afternoon to be really rushed. It was important to me to be able to say goodbye to everyone and not feel too hurried. So, we had some good time back in the classroom where we talked about our favorite moments of Grade 4. Then, I got to pray over them. Then, their Thai teacher handed out their report cards and they finished cleaning the room. As each of them left, I hugged them and said that I love them and will be praying for them.
I didn't cry, and I don't think any of my kids did either. It was a good last week, but I know I'll miss my students a lot!
Monday, March 23, 2009
It sends a little thrill up your spine when you are just walking, or driving, along and you see a big old elephant walking down the street. I may not ever ride one again, but I still think they're pretty dern cool!
Here are some pictures of some of our recent spottings.
We have lots more, but I think you'll get the idea...
We aren't teaching, taking attendance, or grading anything this week, but technically the last day of school is Friday. We still have one last field trip and a big class party planned for the week, of course. Today was the last day for one of my students though, and it was pretty sad to say goodbye.
This past weekend was full with many 'farewell' events. We didn't have regular school on Friday, but there was a graduation in the morning for Kindergarten, and then one later for Grades 6, 9, and 12. It was unlike any graduation I've ever been to! Lots of dancing for the kindergarten one. Lots of speeches for the older kids one. But, overall, it was all done really well. Even though we didn't teach any of those classes, it was nice to be there while they said their formal goodbyes.
Friday night, our church here, Chaengwattena Community Church, hosted a dinner for all of the GES teachers. It was a really nice meal with a fiesta theme, and some time was given for each of us to reflect on the year and share one word that described this past year. We wrote the words on rocks as 'stones of remembrance.' Matt's word was "Father", and he started off by saying, "well, I chose the word father because Tricia and I have a little announcement..."! HAHAHA! Then, he explained that he really chose it because some of the kids in his class call him their dad at school and how that has gotten him to think a lot about being a dad, and about his Heavenly Father. My word was 'reality'. Even though it's been a tough season in some ways, I do feel that God has taught me a lot about living in today. I know that on days when I am enjoying life here in Thailand, my days are so much better than the days when I am wishing that things were like they used to be, or like I want them to be in the future. I'm thankful that God has been teaching me about this, and I pray that I will always remember that today is my reality. :)
After the dinner at church, most of the teachers went out to a restaurant/hookah bar downtown and enjoyed some drinks, hookah, and dancing. It was a fun time to just be out and enjoy all the other teachers... and in some cases, laugh hysterically at them while they were dancing/lurching themselves across the room. :) The atmosphere of the place was really cool though, and it made me want to handpick several friends from different times of my life to spend a few hours there. Anyone want to come?
Saturday, we got some work done during the day. Matt finished editing our honeymoon video, and I made a movie for my class. Then, we headed over to the Seamans' and hung out with the kids while Dan and Kristen went out. When they got back, we played our last two games of Cities and Knights of Cataan all together... Dan leaves this week for a long trip so we won't get to hang out all together anytime soon. We will really miss those game nights with them!
Sunday, we went to church and then had a cookout/pool party for the afternoon with our LifeGroup. It was kinda a send off for us since we're leaving soon and since it's the last time everyone could get together. We have loved our LifeGroup, and it has been a great mid-week refresher. It's been nice to get away from school, be around people who aren't teachers, and get to know some other incredible people. There was recently a pretty sad moment in our group when one family left because they weren't feeling welcome or secure anymore after a slightly intense conversation. This was incredibly sad for me and something I think I've learned a lot from. So, despite that family missing, it was a wonderful day of fun with our group. They cooked out steaks and chicken on the grill; we played ping-pong; hung out in the pool; and lots of other fun things.
Last night, we just took it easy and got stuff ready for the week. But I've been thinking a lot about how thankful I am to be able to have good closure for this time in Thailand. It really is a blessing that we've already had some events that have helped us think through what we've learned and what we're going to miss about Thailand. And we still have 3 more weeks to enjoy here which is another thing to be incredibly thankful for!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I walked over just to hear about it because I could tell that it was really important to Mine... then it turned out that I needed to be involved.
The basic facts are that there is a group of 6th grade girls who really pick on Mine's older sister, Mew. Mew is a pretty easy-going girl who lets most of it roll off her back, but Mine (in my class) is not. She takes things personally and sticks up for her sister, probably more than she should.
Some things happened last week between the 6th grade girls and then with Mine and Dream (also in my class) that helped to escalate the situation. Last Friday, one of the 6th grade girls wrote an email to most of the 6th grade students really talking badly about Mew and Mine. The end of the note included threats to them and included a death threat for Mine.
When Mew and Mine's mother saw this email, she kind of flipped. It wasn't known at the time, but she had apparently been trying to meet with the teachers and principal for a long time about this 'feud' in grade 6. The email was the last straw.
She wrote up something to the effect of, this is a great example of the type of student who attends GES. Look at the excellent grammar and personality of the students. This is a wonderful testimony to the parenting of [student's name--we'll call her Minnie]'s mother. For parenting advice on how to raise excellent children, contact [Minnie's] mother at [address and phone number given].
She made over 100 copies of this, along with the email [Minnie] had written, then hired people to stand at the school gates and hand them out on Tuesday morning. Whoa!
The Grade 6 teachers and the principal had their hands full working on that for most of the day. Since my students weren't so directly involved, I only had to spend two hours in the office listening to the different points of view and stories that were involved.
I'm still not sure how it all got worked out, but I'm continuing to pray that everything is diffusing and that forgiveness and grace will prevail, showing Christ to all involved in this situation. To my knowledge, none of the people involved are believers, but I'm not really sure.
Needless to say, I did not finish getting the final test ready for my students, so they had an extra day to study, which it turned out they desperately needed.
The whole situation was nothing that I could have seen coming but a great reminder of life beyond the classroom for me.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I put the kids in groups, made sure they had at least one cell phone in their group and set them loose! That's right. Twenty-one 9- and 10- year olds set loose at an amusement park! They were required to call me every two hours and meet for lunch at noon. One girl went home sick after the first hour, and the Thai teacher took her to meet her mom. I never saw the Thai teacher again until the end of the day. I didn't have any major problems with the groups. One group failed to check in at the first call-in time, but it was because their cell phones had lost service. They found Miss Shaela (Grade 5 teacher) and asked her to call me for them. Everyone came to lunch on time, if not early. And the same group failed to call in during the second check-in, but after I called around, I found out they were actually with their Thai teacher. I was VERY proud of their behavior overall.The park was really, really fun! There was a good variety of rides, and it was small enough that I frequently ran into GES students or the other teachers, which was nice. It was really fun being able to be silly and goofy with my kids.
My favorite part of the park was probably Snow World. You walk into this big warehouse, and they provide you with a big jacket and some boots. Then, you walk around in the snow for awhile, have snowball fights, then go sledding. You pick up a sled, walk up the icy, frozen stairs, put your sled down, get in, then the guys push you down. Weeeeeeee! Then, you do it again. So much fun!
I also enjoyed riding the Viking, which is the big pirate ship ride thing that swings really high and fast. The haunted house was amusing because my poor 4th graders were fooled into thinking that I would protect them during the walk. (This is a bit ironic because the last time I went into one of those things, I walked out having peed my pants from being so scared.) But, there comes a time for all grown ups to act their age, so I bravely walked through the haunted house with 3 4th graders attached to me the entire time, screaming at the appropriate places (of course only for the effects) and holding tightly to their hands, saying 'it's okay' at all the right places (for them, of course), and even running with them through the parts that were extra scary (also for their sake).
We also did water rides at the very end which was really fun because it had gotten pretty hot by then. Unfortunately, the pants I wore that day were of the see-through-when-wet variety, so I found a solution by adjusting a parka to fit from my chest down. That way, it protected my pants from becoming see-through, but it allowed me to get wet and cooled off a bit. My kids laughed at me for awhile, and I'm pretty sure I embarrassed them during the 30 minutes I wore it. But it served it's purpose.
The last call-in time was at 2 pm, and I told everyone at that point to meet me at the front gate at 3:30. But I got a call around 2:45 from the Thai teacher saying we needed to, in fact, meet at 3. So, it was a bit crazy for awhile calling around to everyone (while waiting in line for one last ride!) to change the meeting time. After our last ride, we made a mad dash through the park (because, of course, we were at the furthest end from the entrance), grabbed some snacks for the bus ride home, and made it to the meeting point at 3:02. Whew.
At that point, I started taking small bites of a snack I had purchased--a pancake on a stick! Pure genius.
The day was amazing! The students were so fun and well-behaved, and I think we got our money's worth of the park.
For more pictures and commentary, view my Facebook Album.
Monday, March 16, 2009
So, I joined some teachers for a dinner out tonight. While eating, we were thumbing through the Bangkok Post. The headline of one of the front page articles read, "Black Magic Politics." Hmmm. Looked interesting, so we picked it up and looked through it.
The article described a recent ceremony that many of the political leaders of this country attended. Here is just a brief excerpt: As a symbolic return of past looting, chunks of banknotes passed hands during the rituals to pacify the spirits of [Thaksin's] past-life enemies. Meanwhile, the names of his foes were written down on paper and burned to ashes to put a curse of death and destruction on them.
Thai politics is not only about political one-upmanship through money, power and guns-it is also about the battle of black magic.Whoa! It's a little terrifying and heartbreaking, isn't it? The article also details other parts of the ceremony, who was there, and some history about black magic in politics.
My response? Sadness. Must. Pray!
P.S. Click on the title to go directly to the article.
It's been an off week, and I might update more on that later, but for now...
This weekend, Mom wrote an email updating me about all the furry Tyndalls. It was fun to hear that she and Dan and Val had ALL the four-legged members of our family while Laura was on Spring Break. I'm sure it was a full house with Tigger, Lisa Belle, Tori, Keto, Nala, and Daisy running around. I was glad to hear that my 16-year-old cat, Tigger, was holding his own with all 4 dogs in the house.
Last night, Matt and I watched Marley and Me, which we bought the other night. I bawled my eyes out... I mean hysterically crying. It's such a sweet movie but so sad at the end.
And this morning, I woke up to an email telling me that Tigger had died. So sad! And it makes the tears shed over Marley and Me have more meaning now.
Now Tigger has joined his sisters, Cookie and Bambi, in the place where four-legged family members go after they die. I'll miss him.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday night, we went over to the Seamans', which we hadn't done in way too long! We got to have dinner with them, hang out, and play Cities and Knights of Cataan. We love that game and having fun friends to play with! We even did a Starbucks run, which made the night extra fun.
Saturday, we slept in a bit, then went on a shopping adventure with Amanda and Kristen. It was a very hot day to be out at a market; more specifically, it was 96 outside, but the heat index felt like 103. And it was not just any market. Chatuchak happens to be the largest flea market in the world. I think it was even part of Amazing Race a couple of seasons ago.
Anyway, we have been there several times, but this was a trip with a purpose. We wanted to buy things to take to friends and family at home... since we only have a few weeks left. I won't spoil the fun and say what we got, but it was a successful trip and a fun time with friends.
One of the highlights of the day was definitely the fruit smoothies that we got about halfway through our 2.5 hours there. Middle of the day heat + squeezing through aisles full of Thais + battling the language barrier while trying to get great deals + the heat + lots of walking + the heat makes one tired and in need of refreshment. So, the coconut/pineapple smoothie (aka virgin pina colada) was a great treat! The other girls got strawberry + orange and just plain orange. Those looked yummy too.
After the shopping trip, we came back and chilled around the house, then went to the mall for dinner, then went over to Chris and Ro's to watch a movie. We watched The Boondock Saints, and though the plot was interesting, the film was pretty gross. I don't recommend it.
Sunday, we went to church, ate at Que Pasa, came home and took naps, then did laundry and school work the rest of the day while watching movies at home. It was a good weekend!
This last picture is from the bridge we went over to cross the street. JJ market is to the far left, and it goes on for quite a while. You can see all the cabs waiting by the market to take tourists and locals home after their shopping.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I would like to thank you for keeping my heart in good shape. Every time I go to throw something away in the trash can and you jump up out of the trash, it gives my heart a good jolt. Each time I see you scurry across the floor or wall, I jump a little bit but then breathe a sigh of relief that you are not a giant spider. Thank you for that.
Thank you also for keeping the bug population under control at our house. Sometimes it's fun to watch you eat the bugs--I only wish you would eat more spiders. I also really like the noises you make. It's kind of fun to imagine what you are talking about.
Remember that one time that you fell from the ceiling just missing Matt's head? That was funny, but I thought it was weird that all he said was, "huh, a gecko just fell off the ceiling and barely missed my head." You must have enjoyed that too.
I'm also thankful that you know your limits for the most part. Thank you for mostly staying on the walls or floors. Those few times that you have gotten on top of my dresser or on the couch were not so fun. We would not want to accidentally sit on you and have a dead gecko sticking to our butts.
Another thing that I don't necessarily appreciate are the poop pellets that you leave around the house. I used to think they were some sort of weird mold or bugs, but then someone told me that it is, in fact, your poop. This is a little gross, my gecko friends. Especially if you are sick and your poop has worms in it. Sometimes, I see them crawling across the wall. It was interesting when I didn't know what it was, but now that I know... it's just gross.
In order to keep our relationship as amiable as possible, could you please try to only poop when you are outside? If we could agree to that, then our little living arrangement would just be fabulous.
Pajama Day did hold a surprise: As soon as I arrived at my classroom at 7:30 am (on time actually), there was a woman waiting to introduce me to her son, my new student. Oh, okay. A new student 3 weeks before school gets out. Sure, I'll babysit your kid. (No grades, no uniform... just supposed to keep him busy.) He seems like a nice guy though, so let's welcome Por to Grade 4!
It was fun seeing the kids in their pjs all day. We did classes as usual. Playing kickball in PE was cut short, though, due to an afternoon downpour. So, we watched Blue Planet instead. Kinda seemed fitting to be watching a movie since we were all so cozy, and the rain was pouring down outside.
We didn't do popcorn, but maybe next time.
All in all, pajama day was very fun, and it was a great way to end a short week! We had Friday off for a much-needed Teacher Workday.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
by the Brio staff
What advice do you have for selecting a college or university?
Walking around campus helped me the most. If you’re unable to fly or drive to your prospective campuses, call the admissions or student development office to receive answers to your questions.
—Tiffany Schermerhorn, 23
How can girls keep their relationship with God strong?
Find someone older and more mature in her faith with whom you can meet on a regular basis. If you only spend time with people on the same spiritual level as you, you’re never going to grow. It’s helpful to have someone you can look up to and go to for advice.
—Rachel Ledbetter, 22
What’s a good way to respond to protective parents?
I made sure my parents knew I wanted them to be in my life. Spend time with your parents, whether it’s helping around the house, going shopping with your mom or playing sports with your dad. Try to be reasonable instead of getting angry about the rules they establish.
—Tricia Tyndall, 21
What advice do you have for selecting a college or university?
I planned to attend a Christian university that was out of state. As I asked God to make this decision clear to me, I realized He desired for me to attend a state university at home. So, seek God through prayer, and ask Him where the best place is for you to go.
—Serena Sblendorio, 22
How can girls keep their relationship with God strong?
Prayer has been so important in my life. Setting aside a specific time and place for prayer is wonderful! I find it hard to get up in the morning to pray. So, I try to keep a continual conversation with God while I’m walking or waiting in line. I constantly tell Him how I feel and ask for His help throughout the day.
—Nadia Siswanto, 22
This article appeared in Brio & Beyond magazine. Copyright © 2003 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Now, the idea of 'getting a massage' usually conjures up thoughts of white sheets, a table with a hole in it for your head, relaxing music, little-to-no clothing, candles... relaxation. However, a massage in Thailand is no Urban Nirvana experience.
Tonight, we walked in (our second time having massages here) and saw another couple small group. So, we got into the recliner-type chairs next to them and settle in. Not too much chit-chat... after all, we're all there for the massages, not the conversation. But here's the setting: 5 recliner-type black leather chairs lined up against a wall right as we walk in. As we are sitting in the chairs, we are within ear-shot of everything that goes on in the shop and a lot of things that happen on the street just outside the door (which is also clear so we can see as much out there as we want as well).
We sit in the chairs, and the Thai ladies wash our feet and get down to business. Reflexology-type massage, which means deep, serious massaging. After the feet, they do our lower legs, then before we know it, there is a small Thai woman on top of each of us massaging our upper legs. Then, she crawls back off of us and comes around the side to do our arms.
Then, we get out of the chairs and sit on the stool which she was sitting in for part of the time. She massages our scalp, neck, shoulders and back.
All in all, it's a wonderful experience, as long as you are not expecting a Western-style massage. Tonight's was wonderful! Partly because it didn't surprise us one bit that when the lady's cell phone rang (loudly), she left to go answer it, talked on the phone for a bit, then came back and told the lady right next to her (the one who is massaging the person who is within breath-smelling distance) all about her recent phone conversation. They laugh. They talk. They call back to the ladies in the back of the room and laugh and talk some more. Then, they quiet down and you get all chill, but then another phone rings.
Seriously, though, it's a very nice treat. And, for both of us to have an hour long massage, for less than $15, we'll be doing it again before we leave!
P.S. The pictures were found online. They give you an idea of what it is like. :) I think I could go for another one right now!
Monday, March 2, 2009
With that in mind, this past weekend, we hunkered down and got some work done. We went to a nearby mall on Friday night, ate dinner, then got comfortable at Starbucks to grade papers. We took over a big table and 5 chairs in order to spread out our stuff.
Our stacks of things to grade were huge, and we made quite a dent in the 3 hours we were there. But we both got antsy before we got everything done, so we saved some for later. We spent Saturday cleaning the house and babysitting for some friends. We mixed in a little bit of school work too.
Sunday, we overslept and missed church but were very productive with the rest of the day. I finished my monthly evaluations, wrote my March newsletter, and got a ton of grading done while watching movies. Matt was even nice enough to grade a Math test for me when he finished with his stuff.
Now, it's Monday evening. We had a brutal Monday filled with finding out lots of things that are due within the next few weeks. So... lots of the teachers went out to a BBQ restaurant. I had never been, but it turned out to be really good.
Thankfully, we have a Teacher Workday coming up this Friday. We have SO much to do!
By the way, there's a possibility that we will not have to teach Summer School, so we might be able to be back in Charleston earlier than we thought!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Junior. What can I say? He's bright, but he truly reminds me of an awkward chipmunk. He's a little of socially, and from spending time with his family outside of school, I can see why. He's 10, but he acts like a 3 year old out in public. He cries often in P.E. class. Often. This is very challenging for me but probably good for me.
This is Pon. He varies greatly from day to day as well. Most days, he comes to school on time, prepared, and in a great mood. Other days, I wonder what must have happened to him at home. He's very sweet, and definitely one of my favorite boys. Though he can be just as rambunctious, he is always respectful when it comes down to it.
Max baffles me sometimes too. He's very quiet and reserved, except with the boys. I think he's the secret ring leader of the boys in the class. He's always whispering to them and keeping them entertained. He misses a lot of school because he goes places with his aunts, uncles, neighbors, parents, cousins' friends, etc. Keeps me busy grading make-up work and keeping up with his missed assignments.
Manna. Well, most of my kids are turning 10 this year, Manna turned 8. She's so smart though and is on the same level (if not above) most of the class. Her parents seem to be pretty strict with her and push her to excel, which is kind of unusual in Thai culture. The goal is usually to be 'average'. She's really sweet and has a soft voice. When she talks to me, I almost always have to ask her to repeat herself.
MeeMee cracks me up! She is SO vibrant and full of life. She is almost always one of the first ones at school in the morning, so she keeps me in the know about goings-on. Her laugh is so loud and out-of-control... I love it! I am really going to miss her a lot.
Mine is a bit of a mystery to me. She seems to be the favored child as she has an older sister who is not nearly as spoiled. Mine often comes to school with a new hairstyle, new bag, new something. She used to be incredibly prissy and sassy, but that has toned down a lot so I really enjoy her now.
Jame is a very unique kid as well. His voice is more like a squeak which makes him difficult to understand at times. He has a nanny who waits on him hand and foot, which i feel like he expects me to do sometimes as well. He's a good student when he wants to be. On days that he's comprehensible, I enjoy him. Other days, when he asks to go drink water 50 times, he drives me insane.
Fay is so fun! She's so bouncy and full of energy. She's an average student, but she's very social and talkative... usually at the right times, which I appreciate about her. I recently found out she is a believer, and she is starting to be more open about her faith.
Plagrim is an odd bird. She's extremely bright but very unsociable. She's very nice, and I've see her improve some, but she always comes across as rude when she talks to people. She's also almost always off in never-never land. :)