ANUBAN RANONG - THOSE FIRST DAY FEELS
Guys, the kids are cute. Like, so cute.
But, they're shit heads, too.
Cute, shit heads. So why do I like them? We'll clearly because we have a lot in common ; )
So last week was my first week teaching at Anuban and let me tell you my stomach wasn't about it. Between the anxiety of not being comfortable on my motorbike, to thinking that my lessons would be a total failure (thus me being a total failure), I just COULD. NOT.
I'd plan my lessons, watch some Vampire Diaries (don't judge me - I see you with your judgey ass eyes over there) and go to bed confident that I'd be all set in the morning. Then around 5:30a the stomach rumble tumble would start: the breakfast wouldn't sit right, the riding to school on the highway anxiety would set in and it's not even 7am. Like, that's a lot of feels happening early in the morning. Nonetheless, every day I felt more confident on my motorbike and then I hit the weekend and was finally feeling relaxed and enjoyed the wind against my helmet. I'm by no means "fearless", but I really enjoy riding now. That's definitely something I'm proud of.
Back to school. I'm teaching EP4, EP5, and EP6. EP stands for English program and it's a program at the school where student's parents can pay for their children to be instructed by native English speakers. The kids want to learn, for the most part, and are very bright. Lets be clear though, these kids are still 9-11 y/o and I'm not allowed to fail them, per program rules. And yes, they know that rule. *biggest eye roll ever*
These kids are really cute, like REALLY cute guys, but they know it. They talk (yes, I know, I have no room to complain here) and talk and talk. I seriously think back to my education and feel so terrible for my poor teachers. I now understand why my file was full of pink slips for talking - IT'S MAD ANNOYING. Anyways, my homeroom kiddos are the EP4s and they are awesome!
They are all really smart, lots of fun and they like to learn. Selfies are rewards for them...we'll be just fine.
Here are a few more of the kiddos:
We need to talk about names. In Thailand everyone has their Thai name, but also a nickname. These are my kids:
Jing Jai, Far Sai, Toaher, Ploy, Myka, Arpong, Pan, Opor, Little, Sainum, Champ and Smart. Yep, Champ and Smart, those are my two boys.
You're thinking, "That's not that crazy Ryan...". Well, my EP5s and EP6s have kids with the following names: Guitar, IQ, Project, Printer, Rut, Huggy, etc. These names doe; it's the greatest thing ever. I'm a big fan of the nickname. Like I said, CUTE OVERLOAD.
So far teaching is fun, albeit, frustrating. Thai's are not known for planning, and often plans, schedules and the like are not given until the day of, if at all. Often times you only know something is happening once it has happened. You learn to think on your feet, pivot when a class hates your so called "game" and try and keep up. It's challenging working within a culture of "Mai Pen Rai" when it challenges your work life, ability to do your job and the way other teachers view you. Without information you assume you can't plan lessons, will fail your students and ultimately will make a bad teacher. Instead, I plan less, try and teach as confidently as possible and hope that one of my kids smiles. I go from there. It's a new culture and I'm equally happy and embarrassed to say that the culture shock hit me harder last week than I thought it would, but that's a good thing. I'm uncomfortable, I truly do have a rural placement and I'm genuinely experiencing a new culture; I got exactly what I wanted. I have lots to be frustrated about, yes, but lots to be proud of - I'm taking everything one day at a time.
Speaking of taking it one day a time, I'm also tutoring. I work with two kids, Waris and Danis twice a week.
I teach them at their grandparents house, which is about 15-20 minutes away from my apartment, outside of town (about 30 minutes from my school). Funny story, I've made friends with the girl who taught them last semester (shout out to Melissa!!) and she sent me a pin and a google Earth photo of the house. So awesome. Just in case, I asked if the grandparents if I could follow them home for my first session since I was concerned I wouldn't find it (I'm not at the read your phone whilst motorbiking point yet. To be clear, I never will be). Anyways, I followed them home and LOZ GUYS. I wouldn't have even made the turn into their neighborhood, much less found the four consecutive turns thereafter. I literally laughed during the entire drive at how awful it would have been to find this on my own.
The town was exactly what you image teaching in rural Thailand to be. You arrive into the center part of town and there's a big outdoor market with smoke everywhere as houses and food stands begin to cook dinner. The roads are narrow and theoretically, one way despite two opposite flows of traffic. The roads wind and you feel your best motor cycle diaries as the wind flaps your shirt and the sun sets along side your drive. The locals walk from house to shop and back, flashing big smiles to me along the way. Some laugh and point at the "farang", but all in good fun. I was so happy to have this experience and to know that I'll see this town regularly. The tutoring session went well, I got myself back out to the highway and made my way home. I'm adulting so hard these day, fam.
So, as I embark on week two of teaching English in Thailand I'm still skeptical, but optimistic.
P.s. - SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY TEACHERS OUT THERE, LOCAL AND BACK HOME. The energy, time and commitment you give to your kids is amazing and I never fully appreciated how tired you were ALL. THE. TIME. Thank you to teachers everywhere for educating young minds, shaping their future and for being stronger than I realized. Y'all keep doin' you.