Okay, so the word ‘abandon’ is a bit excessive.
They did come back to get us eventually!
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Boy Scout Camp rolled around at my school at the end of November. For three days, the upper primary students slept over at school and participated in many different team building activities. They put on lengthy show for parents on Thursday night and got to experience a lot of fun activities.
The kindergarten and lower primary students didn’t have to come to school on these days.
By contrast, the western teachers were expected to be there on Thursday and Friday to put on activities for the boys and girls at camp…
…which included sitting in the hot sun for five hours in the middle of nowhere waiting for the students as they made their way through a three mile hike on the country roads around the school.
Wait? What! You might be saying right about now.
That sounds crazy!
Well, it was.
Because I wasn’t feeling well, I really didn’t have the greatest time int the world…but, needless to say, it was kind of a grand adventure–an adventure that could only happen in Thailand.
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The western teachers had been hearing vague comments on Thursday from some of the Thai teachers about how the students would be going on a nature hike the next day–and how we would have to have activities planned for them on this hike…but we really had no idea what to expect and quite frankly, were all rather confused.
So, when we were actually dropped off in the middle of a country road with nothing but a small awning to offer protection from the scorching Thailand heat, I wasn’t at all surprised (this is Thailand after all, Mai Pen Rai). That said, I was still slightly confused (why are we here again? crossed through my mind on more than one occasion).
When we were first dropped off, we were aware that we had a lot of time–the students, after all, were walking on foot from the school and we were dropped off a good few miles away from the school. It would be a good long while before the first group arrived for activities.
We took this excess time that we had as an opportunity to explore the area around us. There was a small path out to some rice fields next to the awning we were stationed at–and we decided to walk down it. We met an elderly Thai man and woman–both rice farmers–on our walk and, although we couldn’t understand a word of each other’s respective languages, we did make an effort to communicate with them.
It was really quite amazing, actually. I found myself thinking, I’m a teacher in Thailand and, somehow, in the middle of the school day, I’m standing here in this rice field in the middle of Thailand trying to communicate with these Thai people! I mean, really…how cool is that?
Eventually, the kids came…and they went. All nine to ten groups of them–I can’t remember the exact number. Each time, we put on an activities with hula hoops and each group stayed for about twenty minute. I must confess, I was not much help with putting on the activities. I woke up not feeling well and the excessive heat only made me feel worse. That said, it was fun to watch the kids enjoy themselves–though, as the day wore on, each passing group only proceeded to look more and more exhausted.
This was our day from 9:oo in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon. We passed the time waiting for the students by chatting and lazing around in the shade of the awning. To make life a little more interesting, a street food vendor set up shop right in front of our little awning at around 11:00 or so. We watched all day as people passed by and bought food from this small, but seemingly popular, vendor.
By roughly 2:00, when the last group had come and gone, we were finally driven back to school. I was absolutely pooped and proceeded to head right to the teachers’ office, where I laid my head down on my desk for a bit of a nap.
It was an absolutely EXHAUSTING day. I really didn’t have much fun while living the experience because I felt so crappy–but, needless to say, I’m so glad I got to experience it, anyways.
Only in Thailand would school teachers be driven out to a rural road…and be expected to put activities on in the heat of the day–FOR FIVE HOURS–for primary school students participating in a nature hike for boy scout camp.
When in the world am I ever going to experience something like that again?
These are the experiences that I live for in this country. Why I’m so happy to be here and why I can’t wait for more. Even if something is crappy in the moment, I know it will make for a good story later.
There is always a new surprise waiting around the corner in Thailand…and that, in itself, is so exhilarating.