Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Site Visit, Teacher Training, Zack's Birthday and...SWEARING-IN!!!

Check out pics HERE

                Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. In my defense though, we have had a ton going on here in Thailand! A few weeks ago we found out about and visited our permanent sight for the first time. I can’t post many details on here since it is available for anyone to access, but to give you a really general idea we are in the Jang Wat (province) of Chaiyaphum. Please email me (lauranjones88@gmail.com) if you’d like more details! We have since moved here (I’ve been here for three days, and Zack just arrived last night).

                During our site visit we were really excited to discover that our community is really connected and everyone seems to communicate pretty well. Everyone also seems to be viewing Zack and I as a “unit” so that is really nice too. Everywhere we went, we introduced ourselves and explained the general basis of our programs in Thai! One of the most intense experiences was doing this on a huge stage right before a popular mor lam group performed. There were so many people watching! Everyone who Zack and I  spoke with addressed me with just as much respect as Zack, so that was really reassuring for me. Check out a video from our visit HERE.

This is the stage we introduced ourselves on!
                Our community seems to have a lot of projects in mind for us. I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to “look like” yet, but we will definitely be able to keep busy. I will be working with two English teachers at a local school Monday through Thursday, and I will have a “community day” on Friday to focus on community service projects. The goals of my program (TCCS) are to 1.) Improve teaching by improving teachers’ communication skills, instructional practices, and ability to develop/use resources, 2.) Increase student success by improving achievement and participation in English class and improving student achievement, participation and leadership skills through English Extracurricular Activities and 3.) Improve the school community through school community projects and school and family-focused community projects. Like I said, I will definitely be able to keep busy over the next two years! Zack’s program is definitely broader than mine in terms of working with the community, so I think that he may have to work really hard at defining his role in the community.

Group 125 TCCS Peace Corps Volunteers
(and Thai Teachers who attended the training)
                A couple of days after returning from our site visit, the TCCS trainees hosted a teacher training camp. Our theme was “Fun and Games” and was all about how to incorporate games and  into classroom activities. We modeled English activities, but emphasized that these practices can carry over into any subject. I continue to be inspired by the dedication of my peers. Check out all of the pictures in the photo album!

                Another big event that took place was Zack’s birthday! It fell on a Sunday, so the day itself was pretty relaxed. We tried to cook “American” food for our host family, but most of you know that our idea of food is a little “different” than the standard American’s. On that note, everyone seems to be really understanding of our vegetarian diet. We tried to cook “fresh-mex,” which would have worked fine if we had been able to find cumin and tortilla chips. Without them the food was a little bland. We really enjoyed it (it was the first time we had eaten beans since arriving in Thailand!) but our host family did not seem very enthusiastic about it. Zack and I ended up eating most of it ourselves and our family ordered cart food instead…Later in the day, our host family celebrated Zack’s birthday with a real birthday cake! It was a really sweet surprise.

For some reason, this is how Zack's name gets
spelled here sometimes...pretty appropriate, right?
                A not-so-sweet experience occurred the other night when Zack was bit by a centipede…in our bed! I slept through the whole thing, but apparently he had a dream about his hand getting cut and woke to find that it actually was stinging really badly. He turned on the head lamp in time to see a huge centipede scurrying into his pillowcase. I’m sorry to say that instead of running for the camera to capture the moment, he shook the pillowcase until the centipede fell out then proceeded to squish it…with (go figure) my shoe. He claims that it was the closest thing nearby, but I’m not convinced!

Zack and I pose with two of our counterparts
and U.S. Ambassador Kenney

                On another note…we are officially Peace Corps Volunteers now!! 47 of us swore in on March 22nd to serve in Thailand for the next two years. We had the honor of being sworn in by U.S. Ambassador Kenney as our future Thai Counterparts looked on. An album of this event is available HERE on the “U.S. Embassy Bangkok” Facebook page if anyone is interested. There is also a YouTube video available HERE. After swearing in, we jumped right into a two-day training with our Thai counterparts. One of my co-teachers and the paw-aw (principal) of my school attended. It definitely helped us to start to get on the same page in terms of what my role is here in Thailand. I’m sure that there is a ton more that I am forgetting, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone by posting a novel. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to know about Thailand or my experiences and I will try my best to include those topics in my future posts. Hope all is well in the States (and elsewhere)!

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