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Another wonderful (and extremely busy) week in Thailand! I have spent a good chunk of this week doing practicum with a Thai teacher. It was been so great to be around kiddos again and spend so much time in a classroom. My Thai counterpart has been amazing to work with, and I feel like we are both learning a lot. I’m going to be so sad at the end of this next week when practicum is over! The children are all so sweet, and I can’t help but feel that I’ve had a perfect day after seeing them. When I bike around the community, they call “Laura! Laura!” which actually sounds a lot more like “Larla! Larla!” (So cute!) Since my Thai counterpart for practicum is the English teacher at the school, I get to teach a different grade each day and get to know most of the children at the school. I have a class of bratom (primary grade) 1 and 2, one of bratom 3 and 4, then another of bratom 5 and 6.
I actually got a phone call the other night from one of the fifth grade girls! It mainly consisted of a lot of giggling, broken Thai (on my part) and a little bit of English (from both of us). I think I’ve found a new way to practice my Thai J Being at the school so much has created many more opportunities to connect with others. Again, I can’t express enough how friendly the Thai people are. I feel so fortunate to be here.
On another note, Zack has been working very hard in his program also. This past week, he received extensive training in life skills and leadership education through the “Right to Play” organization. This is an international program that was founded by a Canadian Olympic athlete and uses sports and play as a means to teach youth about life skills and leadership.
Our Thai is still coming along. I can recognize a handful of written Thai words now! We have a “mock” language proficiency test this week that will help prepare us for our actual test towards the end of training. It’s amazing that we’re already almost halfway through!
On Saturday we had a ton of fun participating in Peace Corps Sports Day! From what I understand Sports Days are really common at schools in Thailand. It’s a day devoted to competition between teams of different colors. To get a better idea, check out my album! Afterwards, we went to a Masked Play titled “The Ramakien: Episode of Hanuman, the Illustrious Simian Warrior.” It was really difficult to follow (obviously, because it was in Thai) but was beautiful nonetheless. The only complaint that I had (believe it or not) was that the theatre was FREEZING! By the time the play was over, my hands, legs and nose were numb. Despite the 32˚ C temperature outside, my hands didn’t warm up for a good twenty minutes after leaving the theatre.
Saturday was also the Chinese New Year, which was celebrated all over Thailand. Our Thai host family spent the day offering gifts (including about six whole cooked chickens and literally a ton of kanomes/treats, fruit and flowers) to their ancestors. All of the cars were also lined up in front of the house with offerings on them. I’m not really clear on all of the symbolism, but from what I could gather using my very limited Thai is that they believe this protects them. Our host family also traveled to different Wats (temples) all day making offerings. I’m a little disappointed that we weren't able to participate more and that I really couldn’t understand what was going on. Some other observations that I was able to make were fireworks being set off all day (a huge one went off near us as we were biking to sports day at 7:00 AM) and very few people out and about around town.
Zack and I are still in really good spirits and are grateful to be here every day! I didn't actually post the wish list that I said I would last time, but I’ll try to this time. We really shouldn't want for anything though until we are at site in another month and-a-half (and even then, we’ll be fine without anything extra). I literally only have about one hour per week (during my lunch break on our one day at the main hub) of access to internet, so I’m really sorry for my brief interactions (including lack of Facebook responses) and less than perfect entries. I also have a hard time navigating options on “blogger” because they are all in Thai and Google translate does NOT translate them for some reason…sigh.
Thanks for checking in!