Sunday, May 19, 2013

Teaching and stuffs...

I'm settling into life in Lampang with relative ease. I owe a huge thanks to Thom and Thong (pronounced Tong--and he knows what a thong is, but I remind him anyway). They are fellow teachers and 26-year old twins. I guess they are my coordinators, although they have already been upgraded to friends in my book. They take Gary and I around and we are able to get an authentic Thai experience through their generosity. It's becoming rapidly apparent why Thai people have such a stellar reputation. They are nothing but kind and accommodating and it seems that it is completely natural for them. It's innate and ingrained in their culture and that's something that America could learn greatly from.

I'm not sure if I could ask for a better set-up. Lampang is exactly what I look for in a place to live. It's not overly large, yet there is plenty to do. It's not crowded, but neither do I feel isolated. It seems it's semi-undiscovered and that's certainly appealing--the authenticity is alluring. And it's great that I will be hanging out with the locals here instead of a million farangs (Hopefully my Thai will become a beneficiary of that). (Lampang's emblem/logo/whatever is a rooster--how fitting for a guy from South Carolina.)

Teaching has been easier than I expected it would be. Since I am a native speaker, mainly they want me to speak and have the kids speak with the correct pronunciation. The first day I had to introduce myself to my 650 students at an assembly. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I garnered much applause to my own confusion and felt sort of like a celebrity. I'm in charge of M/5 (level 5 or Juniors in high school), so they are all 16-17 years old. I teach 3 classes a day for a total of 15 a week and I only teach each class once a week. I feel like it'll be difficult to make a connection with the students this way, but the bright side is that I only have to create one lesson plan a week. 

While the physical pleasures that Thailand provide never fail to disappoint, what's becoming more valuable is the internal maturation that I'm already experiencing. I am becoming more aware of myself through living here. It's funny how that works--how the differences of others force us to look inward. My good buddy Curtis Vann taught me how to pause for a moment and 'zoom out.' When in a unique situation, it's always interesting to take a second to consider the position you are in. I'm in Thailand teaching English to juniors in high school and not since being in Florence have I felt more liberated. My life has become an adventure once more. It's like this blog--a blank canvas (screen) waiting to be scribbled on, and boy am I enjoying the scribbling.

I'm lucky to have HBO on the 12 inch tv in my apartment and since it's the only English channel I have I leave it on there. It's channel 10 or nothing. They actually play quality stuff (game of thrones was on earlier). Although currently I'm watching Judy Moody and the Not So Bummer Summer (too much rhyming in the title for my taste), yesterday Coach Carter was on and I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite quotes. (I guess I'm 2 for 2 on quotes in my blog posts but I don't care.) I'll let Timo Cruz elaborate:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I contemplated for a little at how fitting this quote was for my situation. At times I feel like I hide in the shadows too often and am afraid to put myself out there. I'm actively attempting to be more vocal and overt. Being in Thailand only a couple weeks has already opened me up, and being a teacher, especially, is forcing me to become more outgoing and unreserved. I think even this blog is an extension of my newfound extroverted attitude. Like I said, I'm doing a lot of zooming out and self-reflection over here...

(I haven't taken my camera around Lampang yet so these are all from my phone. Planning on taking it to Chiang Mai for a 3-day weekend next weekend so I'll get some good ones there. Apologies...)

Weekend night market

Thai kids playing music at the night market

Thom and Gary. Everyone thinks Gary is Thai and it is very amusing when they try and talk to him. He's from Minnesota.

Home cooked Thai meal

More than 4,000 students at Bunyawat

A view from one of the classrooms. Hello mountains

Wat Phra That near Lampang

The kr3w

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