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Learning in Asia Experiences and life lessons while teaching in Thailand.

Saturday - A new day

THAILAND | Saturday, 8 November 2014 | Views [376] | Comments [2]

Teaching in Thailand has no doubt been interesting. I do not know what other word to use as the overall experience is overwhelmingly positive, but Thais just do things differently. For starters, I thought I was coming here to teach English, but I learned the day before leaving that I would be teaching Health. That was no problem since it’s a passion of mine. I then learned the week before school that I would be teaching Health, Science and Computer Science. This came as a surprise, but I took it in stride - mai pen rai (no worries). Anyway, I will share more on the intricacies of the Thai educational system in a future post. 
 
Back to Friday…  I had to teach a 7th grade class about heat. The thirty students in the class basically had no idea what I was talking about, no matter how many illustrations, photos, examples and demonstrations I used. How do you not know what thermal equilibrium is!! I’ve explained it seventeen times!! Truthfully, I do not blame the students one bit, how can they be expected to understand concepts in a foreign language when they are handed such complex vocabulary. 
This was my hardest day teaching so far, I expended all the energy I could dedicate to the class and still they were clueless. “Teacher! Mai kao jai, mai kao jai!!” - they just did not understand. I knew I had to rethink my approach, but would leave it for another day….which brings me to Saturday. 
 
I am an introvert. There is no doubt about that I need my alone time. To me, it is restorative and nourishing. On this trip I have been constantly meeting new people, changing cities, changing roommates, all great things but extremely draining for those of an introverted nature. At the place I am living in Sakon Nakhon, there are 8 other English teachers, all teaching at the same school. So, needless to say, I am in constant interaction with an English speaking crowd. This makes me occasionally forget that I am in Thailand because I rarely need to use my (very limited) Thai. I wanted to develop a conversational ability while being here, yet I feel removed from the country. 
 
On Saturday morning I set out on my own to explore my new town. I rode into the main area and started to look for somewhere to eat and found a little restaurant that was empty except for the cook who gave me a hearty smile. I accepted her nonverbal invitation and there began my first informal Thai language lesson. I asked her if I could eat and if she had a menu. I assume that she said no since she began to count on her fingers and say the names of some dishes I recognized. I stopped her when she said a dish I had yet to have and then requested that she hold off on the chillies just a bit. She then began to ask me some questions and I was immediately put into my students’ shoes - “mai kao jai!” She smiled and repeated her line of questions a bit slower to which I responded that I was living in Sakhon Nakhon and that I am a teacher at the local high school. She cooked up a delicious dish that filled me up with enough left over to bring home with me and sent me on my way to the local supermarket where I got all the things I needed for the week ahead. 
 
When I got back home, I felt really good. My morning embodied my expectations of living in Thailand, so after my earlier realization that I had become complacent, this felt great! My spirit felt happy, so now I set out to enrich my mind for the day by coming up with new lesson plans for my classes. I was delightfully interrupted by a telephone call from a friend that led to a soul-satisfying conversation about life in Thailand, life in general and helping with each other’s challenges. Today was brutally hot, but as we conversed I sat in the shade of a tree and watched a storm come in. I felt the gradual change in temperature, the increasing presence of the wind and watched the storm clouds slowly block out the bright blue sky. I often paused in mid conversation to absorb the sights and sounds of the bamboo tree's leaves rustling in the rising wind.  As we ended our conversation I felt the refreshing drops of rain on my skin, instantly cooled by gusts of wind. I had connected with a beautiful soul and now felt connected to our beautiful planet. I felt calm, centred and at peace. My soul had all that it needed, time to take care of my mind. 
 
I pondered deeply for some time about how to relay the concept of matter to twelve year old English learners. In the space and calm of my day, I came up with a great idea and if I may say so, (humbly, of course) I developed an awesome lesson plan. This gave me a great sense of satisfaction because during my day I felt how my students had felt and I believe that this enabled me to become a better teacher…but we’ll see about that come Monday! This propelled my positive feelings to levels nearing bliss, I knew what I needed to do next. I put on my running shoes and went for a run around the lake near my house. 
I was so grateful for the moments that ensued. The sun was setting as I ran beside the still lake reflecting a delightful selection of twilight colours. I began to express my gratitudes for all that was in front of my eyes and all of the amazing events of the day. 
 
 
 
After running for some time, I started to head home but opted to walk for a bit. I’m glad that I did because this slower pace enabled me to take in my surroundings and I saw a tree that I can only describe as gargantuan. Its trunk looked like 5 trees fused together and its branches stretched out creating a canopy nearly as big as the university building adjacent to it. I paused here for some time and stretched my legs, which led to a full fledged yoga session in the dark under a massive tree. I’m pretty sure I got some stares, but they were the furthest thing from my mind because in that moment I achieved what I had set out to do in Thailand. 
 
I took the time to love and care for my mind, body and soul and it felt (feels!) amazing! What is remarkable is that the majority of my day was spent in solitude but I gained a sense of satisfaction and contentment that I believe no one other than myself could give me. This complete change from the day before lets me know that what I am seeking can be attained but I must dedicate time and conscious effort to achieve my personal goals. Today was a refreshing and inspiring day and I will use it as fuel to proceed on my journey of growth while I am in Asia. I hope this account of my personal experience will inspire you all to begin or continue to build a relationship with yourself and cherish the sanctuary that is your entire being by loving and caring for your mind, body and soul. 
 
Love and miss you all, 
Andrew

Tags: body, introvert, love, mai pen rai, mind, spirit, teaching, thailand, trees

Comments

1

Read your stories again today. You're an excellent writer and it's been 20 days since your last post. How are you different now? Have you continued to engage in activities from your awakening or are you back to being 'occidentally' complacent? Reading these most certainly made me connect with you on a deeper level so continue to allow me to live vicariously through you. Maybe start by showing pictures and sharing stories of your time in Laos?

All the best,

AK

  Al-Karim Jiwani Nov 30, 2014 5:20 AM

2

Thanks for your kind comment and positive suggestion, it's much appreciated. I have not posted because I have been occupying my evenings with various mind/body/soul endeavours, I was aware that writing this blog was something I was neglecting to do, but I was not wasting time in my online absence. Thanks again for the comment and support, just posted about my time in Laos!

  drewsweet Dec 4, 2014 12:44 AM

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