Friday, January 22, 2010

In other news...

In other news...

We now have motorbikes! Mobility has made me feel more at home in Thailand, for sure! We have so much freedom. On the second day of owning our bikes, we pointed at a map and said, "Lets go there!" So we set off on our journey, only to get lost 5 minutes later. We ended up circling the mote a few times and somehow we made it onto the superhighway (which was the thing we were most terrified about driving on). Then we were in this little undeveloped area, driving along the river. But alas, we were victorious! We managed to get completely lost multiple times but eventually we found our way back to our home. It was a good way to face our fears of driving in Chiang Mai. I am now fairly confident that I can find my way back if I ever get lost again. There are some great landmarks such as, "the mountain," "the mote," and "the river." For those of you at home who know about our directional-awareness-issues, have no fear. We will be fine.

Motorbikes have been very helpful as our schedules fill up. We are driving back and forth between campuses multiple times a day. In addition to our poetry and drama class, writing center hours, and chapel, we are teaching informal english classes twice a week, taking thai class twice a week, I am still teaching voice lessons, and I am now coaching an under 11 girls basketball team... and I may or may not have just inadvertently started up a little drama club for a few of the nursing Ajaans. So life is fairly busy, but its filled with some pretty delightful things.

Coaching is great fun! 9-11 year old girls are hilarious! I have so much fun just watching them interact and act goofy. I'm not a very tough coach, although sometimes they say I am when I make them run two lines in a row. I think I've lost a bit of my competitive nature since high school, but I'm trying to get it back. Knowing how to coach is harder than I imagined it would be. I am still searching for the balance of structure, freedom, competition, and fun. Most of the time I just want to let them do whatever they want. They're are only 11 years old- they should just have fun and not worry about winning or losing. But then I remember when I was that age and basketball was a huge part of my life. Competition was what made it fun- not necessarily winning or losing, but the thought that what we were doing was important. Now, after having received a college education, I realize that in the large scheme of things, a basketball game is really not that important. But in order to make this a fun experience for the girls, I need to become an 11 year old girl again-- which is not that difficult, really. I loved being 11.

Teaching, teaching, teaching. I don't know about teaching. After I graduated with a music degree I figured I'd go back to school eventually to get my masters in teaching. What else can I really do with a generic music degree? Last week I was convinced that I did not want to be a teacher. Here are the reasons why: 1. I have a ardent dislike for planning lessons. 2. I don't like telling people what to do. I feel that these two items are vital parts of teaching. Although, my situation here is quite unique. I'm teaching a subject that I don't know much about and we have no curriculum. So making lesson plans means hours of searching the internet for sources that seem reliable, and learning about a subject the day before I teach it. Its an adventure every time. Perhaps being a choir director at a high school would be less stressful. BUT, I still don't like telling people what to do and I don't know if I'll ever get over that one. Maybe one day I'll suck it up and be a leader (though I'd much rather follow...).

Funny stories...
1. Our first basketball game: Everyone was super excited to play our first game against PRC, a neighboring thai school. The game was supposed to start at 3:30pm, but the other team didn't show up until 4:15, so we had quite a thorough warm up. When they finally arrived, the whole gym went silent. It was like a scene from a movie in slow motion. In walked these giant woman who were taller than me. The girls on my team are about half my height. All of a sudden, parents were rushing down from the stands to talk to coaches and athletic directors. "There is no way my daughter is playing against them..." It turns out, they were 16 and 17 year olds. After much discussion and confusion, it was decided (while I stood meekly by) that they would not be playing the PRC's high school team. The girls were pretty disappointed. When we asked them what they wanted to do they all really wanted to play them even though they were giants. Brave little ones! It would have been an interesting game, that's for sure! In the end, they just scrimmaged against each other, which may have not been the best for team morale (there was already some drama developing within the team).

2. A chapel to remember: One of those times when everything seems to go wrong. Our usual chapel routine is to wake up at 7am and go down to the office to pick up copies of the sermon we had written for the students to read. Then we would pass the copies out, sing a couple songs with my guitar, read the sermon, and pray. The first problem this morning was that the office was closed, so we could not pick up the copies. And of course we didn't have the original, so we had nothing to read from. Then Amy quickly decided to let me entertain the students while she went back to the room to get her laptop to read from. The second problem was that I had no guitar. My guitar string broke for the second time, and I had completely forgotten to borrow a guitar the night before. So Amy left me alone, with no guitar, standing in front of 100 expecting nursing students, at 7:30 in the morning. First song on the agenda: Amazing Grace. I asked if anyone played the piano and a timid girl came up to the stage and sat at the piano. Luckily she knew the song Amazing Grace and she started playing. Third problem: she started playing in a key that does not work for voices at 7:30 in the morning (too high!). Fourth problem: no one knew the words in English because we didn't give them copies. So the beginning of chapel consisted of me screeching (literally screeching) Amazing Grace while the nursing students mutely observed with wide-eyes. Oh, Grace... How much you are needed! Eventually Amy came back and on her way back the office was open so she was able to get the copies. The rest of chapel went smoothly. Good times.

The end.

P.S. Pictures will come soon (I think).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

To learn English

Tonight was the second night of the informal English classes Sarah and I just started for the nursing students. Getting to know students in our dorm has proven somewhat difficult because relationships are very hierarchical in Thai culture and many students are much too shy to speak English to "farang," or foreigners. When we first arrived students would burst into giggles when we said hello to them in the hallways, but it has steadily gotten better; sometimes they say it first to us now. We wanted to start informal English classes to get to know them better and to help them feel more comfortable speaking English. Most Thai students have studied English in school for years, but seldom speak it as they study. Sarah and I each teach groups of ten for two nights a week.

For our first week we did a few simple exercises having to do with greetings and small talk. We also played some games including a smaller version of Scattergories. Parts of the first class didn't go the way I had hoped...I forgot that a teacher cannot sit on the floor if students sit on the couch, so when I sat down they all immediately slid to the floor. I also mispronounced one student's name and they all froze. I am still not sure what I said. They spoke Thai to each other some of the time. But some parts of tonight were great: they were laughing and feeling comfortable talking a little, they tried the banana bread we made for them, and I think they felt like we cared about them as people. I am convinced that our nursing students are the cutest women in the world.

In teaching long term goals are important. There are always things about every lesson to pull out: different wording for explanations, timing, almost anything could be better. I am learning to try to fix the small things that I can, but to be grateful when the long term goals are still in place. A few of the games or exercises might not really work, but they are still speaking English a little and getting more used to being with foreigners. I long to really know these women, to have them deeply know that we are all the same on some level.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finally, a blog.

I (Amy) would like this blog to have glimpses of the daily, to give someone the ability to see just a little of what it is like to be here. Alas, doing small things (like updating a blog) are difficult to do faithfully. I have been putting off writing for about a month now because so much has happened that I don't know where to start and we have been so busy. This is my honest effort to start writing again, even if it is not much. Hopefully I will get better at this as the year goes on.

Sarah and I received our TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification right before Christmas. This involved taking a 4 week intensive course that lasted 7 or 8 hours most days. Because we will be teaching conversational English classes to Thai students at Payap in the next few months, this course was particularly helpful. We were able to think about teaching techniques, like classroom management and methodology of teaching, as well as learn specific games or activities that we will be able to use with future classes. One of the teachers, a very humble man, was particularly inspiring to me. Everything he taught us or explained took his students into careful consideration; the lessons were for them only. Teaching English, even at the college level, cannot be lecture-based. It must be highly interactive, getting students to speak as much as possible. This is more difficult than it sounds because it is so natural to feel that, as a teacher, you must explain everything or they won't learn.

We finished teaching the poetry section of our Intro to Poetry and Drama class at Payap. I recently saw a professor who told me that in teaching you have to expect to make mistakes because it is the only way to learn how. Some days feel just like that: long strings of mistakes and seemingly unorganized activities that just don't go the way Sarah and I envision them at all. But other days are good; students seem to care about the material and we get to enjoy them as people. Poetry was difficult for me to teach sometimes. As it is one of the things I love most in this world (and probably always will be), I could feel my inability to communicate why it is essential, why it matters, why it . I would teach a poem and then feel I had not done it justice, sometimes wishing I had never tried at all, almost as if I had wrecked it. Sadly, loving a subject does not make you a good teacher. I think Sarah and I are probably learning in ways we don't see on a daily level. I still don't like being in front of people, but I am far more comfortable than I used to be. The drama section just started and we continue to try new things and laugh a lot.

My family came for about a week and a half for was wonderful to see them. Showing them this place that I have told them so much about and watching them experience Thai food and culture for themselves brought back memories from family vacations as a child. We did lots of touristy things like going on an elephant ride, to the zoo, to museums, on Flight of the Gibbon (a zipline through the jungle), and eating lots of Thai food. Probably my favorite part of their visit was getting to talk with each of them by themselves. I took each of them to a good spot in Chiang Mai, whether it be a little coffee shop with a strange name or a bar that overlooks the river. It is strange to think about the lives that continue in the West without me. Being here feels like stepping outside of time, but it keeps going and turning without me. I have never understood change well.

It doesn't feel much like a new year so far. There are no cold, silent afternoons to wait for snow to fall and we are in the middle of a semester, but I feel a determined excitement about the weeks and months to come. Watching Anna be at home in Chiang Mai and seeing the delight on her face and the sheer familiarity she felt encourages me. I have been blessed time and time again in ways I cannot hope (and should not try) to ever repay. I came to the conclusion one day recently that I often expect life to be easier than it is. I also often do not expect joy to be as rich as it is...there is a strange depth to being here that I have trouble even writing about in my journal these days.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just a little "hooaro" (laugh)

The following is a running list of happenings and funny occurrences in Thailand. Every one of these events happened because we are confused "farang" who don't quite understand the culture yet. But we are learning and laughing at ourselves often:

1. After arriving the first night, we ate a spicy curry dish in the cafeteria, but did not know if the water was safe to drink. We looked around a little and then went back to our room, discussing if we could safely drink water from the sink in our room. After about two hours, when we were feeling a little faint, we finally ventured out of the dorm only to find a 7-11 directly next to us. The water in the cafeteria is also safe to drink.
2. We asked the student at the front desk how the internet worked. She gave us a username and password and we gladly thanked her. The internet worked and all was well. Later, our supervisor told us that we needed to get our own usernames. The student had given us her personal information.
3. Our second morning in Thailand, Sarah woke up with a huge lump on her left eyelid. A mosquito had bitten her in the night and she could barely open it. Amy got ice from 7-11, but it was still pretty enormous for most of that day. It was also the day we took ID pictures.
4. We thought everyone we interacted with laughed because we were "farang" or foreigners and only Thai people have lived in this dorm thus far. Turns out that you are not supposed to "wai" (bow your head while holding your hands together before you head) everyone you see. You are only supposed to "wai" your supervisor or to any superior who you will interact with.
5. One day we started walking from one campus to the other, looking for a songtao (taxi-like mode of transportation). Some nice lady pulled over and asked if we wanted a ride. She seemed nice enough and we figured that hitchhiking in Thailand might just be a normal occurrence. We hopped in the car and she started talking to us as if she knew us. After many subtle questions we finally realized that this was Payap's Dean of Arts, whom we had met briefly the previous day. She later told us that hitchhiking was a good way to get around!
6. The first ever question addressed to us as teachers was, "what is a bosom?" It was a legitimate question asked after we read a section of a poem that said, "the heart out of the bosom."
7. First day of teaching fiascos: being the fresh new teachers that Amy and I are, we made sure to get to class with plenty of time to spare. When we arrived an hour before our class, the entire place was deserted-- not a teacher in sight. Then the copy place was closed, the computer wouldn't turn on, once we figure out the computer the powerpoint wouldn't open, and students were beginning to trickle in. Not stressful at all.
8. Failed attempts at friendliness:
The Boom story- During Loy Karthong we made plans with a student named Boom to go celebrate the holiday together (or so we thought). When we arrived at the set meeting time and place, Boom was nowhere to be seen. Half an hour later she walks by and says, "Hello. I'm going to go eat. Goodbye." I'm pretty sure we just completely misunderstood our previous conversation. We tend to misunderstand quite a bit.
The "Newt" story- It was our friend Newt's birthday, so Amy and I went to 7-11 and bought some Oreos and candles. We wrote her a card and stuck the candles in the Oreo box. Then we went to the first floor where the pictures of students and their room numbers are posted, and found the person who looked most like Newt. Turns out it wasn't Newt. It also turns out that Newt does not exist. Her name is Nuch and she lived on a completely different floor.
The apartment story- We wanted our room to be homey and inviting so that we could have students over, so we bought a bunch of thai fabric, some string lights, and also some artwork. Sticky tac didn't work, so we spent a week trying to track down pushpins (they are harder to find than you would think). When we finally bought some and came back home to start decorating, we realized we had cement walls.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ajaan means Teacher

I never quite pictured my first day of teaching to be like it was. Sarah and I returned to Payap from our three day trip to Chiang Rai on Sunday night and worked on finishing our lecture far into the night. (We are teaching Introduction to Poetry and Drama at the International School of Payap University, a 300 level college course, for those of you that don’t know.) We got up at a ridiculous hour, trying to figure out how to look professional. Mostly we just wanted to look old enough. We arrived at the international campus at least an hour early and a kind janitor let us into our room, but the computer would not turn on. A nervous student wandered in after about twenty minutes, and while we frantically tried to locate our supervisor, got it to work somehow. He apologized profusely even as we tried to thank him, which quickly became confusing to all of us. Our PowerPoint would not load and Sarah sat down to figure it out. There was no one around to ask questions of…we were foreigners, or “farang,” in the middle of the Thai education system.

I then tried to locate a copy booth. As far as I can tell Thai culture does not observe copyright laws, meaning if you want a copy of a book, you take the entire thing to a little copy booth and they copy the whole thing for you in about a day. I only needed to copy a poem we were going over. I went to our department and they sent a student with me to help. The copy booth in the building is supposed to open at 8, but at 8:15 it was still closed. The student took me to one nearby; it was about ¼ a mile away. So I walked as quickly as possible, picturing Sarah standing before an expanse of students without a PowerPoint or anything to say. After making the copies, the student insisted on paying for them. I tried to explain that they were for our class and it was not at all necessary, but he shook his head firmly and insisted we were friends now. I hesitantly agreed. When we got back, around 8 students had arrived and the PowerPoint still was not working. We clicked on it a few more times, just to try, thinking we would probably just have to remember as much as we could and wing it, and it somehow worked. We started our class, complete with PowerPoint and copies only about 5 minutes late. It was only later that I learned back in the United States my parents and around 30 friends gathered at our house for a dinner were praying for us. Written out like this, the whole situation seems frustrating, but it was ridiculously funny to us at the time. Considering we were told we could teach whatever we wanted the week before and did not know where or what time our class would be until the last minute, it all came together very nicely.

Our students are from countries all over the world: China, England, Burma, Turkey, here in Thailand, and America to name a few. Naturally their English speaking abilities vary greatly, ranging from those who have trouble piecing together a sentence to native English speakers. One student in particular, a grad student from the US, seems to have quite a literary background. In our first class he referenced several literary figures I had not heard of, explained that he writes “poet” for his occupation on job applications, and announced that he is now trying to learn Chinese because he has Thai down. Lovely. Perhaps our biggest challenge in teaching will be figuring out how to make the literature accessible to everyone, but still interesting.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a fear of speaking in front of large groups of people. Whitworth and Tall Timber both did their best to cure me of these qualms and, while I know I have come a long way, being in front is not my natural stance. Standing in front of our class the first day, however, I felt a strange excitement that I wasn’t prepared for. Being able to discuss poems with a class, to ask them questions and to listen to their responses, felt wonderful, like a strange sharing. The few nods or flashes of understanding in students’ eyes as they listened to our presentation were so encouraging to me. There were, of course, students sitting in the back, that did not comment on anything; I am not sure they understood at all. Thinking about the entire course is very intimidating, but having a plan for tomorrow can be done. Next time we will ask all the students to sit towards the front as they come in and assign discussion groups to mix up their abilities. We are writing our own curriculum, which is very time consuming, and are not sure exactly how it will work, but we are trying to take it one day at a time. For now, that is enough.

I do not expect to be good at this. I have watched enough friends struggle through student teaching, an honest gleam of humility knotted in the way they explain it, to know that experience is perhaps the most important part of learning to teach. Education majors take four years preparing to teach and I have not done any of that. I am trying to take on the attitude of a student myself. If explaining something entirely fails or a poem just does not make sense, we will try again the next day. I am trying to give myself space to grow, not expecting it to all work, but expecting to try my best and hopefully learn.

Actually, being in Thailand at all takes that attitude. We have had lots of “unproductive” days, days in which we finally figure out how to tell a driver where we want to go only to find it is randomly closed, or days in which we wander around looking for a building for hours and never find it because all of it is in Thai. Thais have different expectations of what getting things done means. They do not set goals and finish them as much as live life and see what happens…men pen rai…it’ll be fine. Thus far, Sarah and I have been able to laugh at ourselves pretty well. But it is definitely a process to learn. I have done lots of heart-felt praying since being here. God is faithful. Not always, or even usually, in the way I want Him to be, but He is faithful. And it is better that way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chiang Rai, Oh My!

Before I write about our wonderful time in Chiang Rai, I thought I would share a bit of my mind/heart at this moment. (This is Sarah by the way.)

Yesterday I was suddenly struck by a realization of all the things I will be doing here and how unqualified I am for all of them! I'm teaching a university level Poetry and Drama class?! Why did I think this was a good idea? I've been in a few plays and written a few poems, but that's about all. Preaching? Uhh... enough said. Teaching English? I have a hard enough time speaking English. Teaching voice lessons to Thai students? How will we communicate
if they can barely speak English? Also, I have none of my music books with me so I am just hoping that I've retained all four years of voice lessons, voice labs, voice classes, etc. And... they are university students (two women, two men) who have studied voice for as long as I have! Most of them want to sing pop. It's a good thing I know so much about pop music... not! I have to admit this is a pretty humorous situation I'm in. I would have never thought that I would be doing all these things just a few months out of college. This is one of those times where I am sure that without Jesus, there is no way I could do all this. He has been pretty faithful though and I believe (though sometimes I doubt) that it will all work out. He has already answered so many little prayers. Really... so many! It's crazy how things that seemed impossible have worked out just fine.

So my plan is to take every thing one day at a time, work hard, rest when appropriate, not eat anything living or uncooked, and pray.

Chiang Rai, oh my!

The trip started at 4:15am out in front of the nursing building. Amy and I staggered out of our room at about 4:14am and were face to face with matching, smiling, energetic Thai students and professors. Of course I was wearing a slightly wrinkled, bright, tie-dye shirt because I hadn't done laundry yet, and Amy was wearing a bright blue shirt. Here we were, ready to rough it with our tennis shoes and our single pair of pants, while the Thai people had perfectly pressed blouses and cute flats. We were doomed to stick
out like strange americans for the rest of the trip.
We got into the "teacher" van and off we went with thai music blaring in our ears at 4:30 in the morning.

This trip was one of many throughout the year. The Payap nursing staff and students team up with an organization called Medical Missions and travel to rural villages in Northern Thailand. They provide health care which includes, check-ups, supplying medications, hair
cuts, and general health information. They also put on a vacation-bible-school for the children. (That's where Amy and I come in).

Our first stop was at a school somewhere near Chiang Rai. The area was beautiful! It's just as I envisioned Thailand looking like before coming.

Amy and I knew that we would be helping out with the children, but we were not quite sure what our jobs were. We followed our supervisor like lost and confused children until we found
the classroom. Then we met up with our team and discussed our plan of action. Amy and I would lead a few games and sing a few songs. It seemed easy enough... except we don't know thai and the children don't speak any english. So we attempted a few games but it didn't go so well. They were confused and we were confused. However, it got better as the trip progressed and we learned from our mistakes. We found a song (I've Got Peace Like a River) that had motions and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. After the games and such the nursing students did a hand washing and teeth brushing demonstration. They were really good with kids.

On our free time we made friends with a couple of junior high girls who spoke very good english and delighted in teaching us Thai. One of them even played guitar which I'm learning is not very common for thai women.

The next place we went to was a little white church. The kids were not shy here! After the games and singing, Amy and I walked around trying to figure out how we could be useful, until we noticed a posse of children following us. We turned around and asked them their names in Thai. After we'd exhausted our Thai vocabulary, we didn't know what to do. They just stood there looking at us expectantly. We walked, they followed. Well, if we can't speak, I might as well mime. So I started miming for them. I don't know if they laughed because they thought I was ridiculous or because they thought it was funny. I thought it was great fun!

Then we milked cows! There was a farm close by the church and a few Payap students asked if we could milk their cows. It was a strange experience. Afterward they offered us milk to drink. It was warm and sweet and I kept picturing the milking process...blllgh.
Every night and morning there was a worship service in the church, and one night our friend and supervisor Pee Meow was giving the message. She nervously scribbled on a note pad before the service and Amy and I played and sang songs to pass the time. She quickly looked up at us and asked if we would help her. Next thing we knew we were in front of the church singing "It Is Well With My Soul," before all the staff and students on the trip. This is usually the way things happen.

The worship services were interesting because very few of the students (and staff, we later found out) were Christians. But everyone clapped along, listened, and was respectful. I was curious to know what the sermons were about, but they were all in thai, so my curiosity converted into energy trying to hold my eyes open at 7am.

It's difficult picking out the highlights to discuss in this blog when there were so many little occurrences and subtleties that made this trip a unique experience. One important subtlety (not really so subtle though) were the showers. Amy and I were confused to say the least. We were told we could go take a shower and were pointed in the direction of the bath houses. We followed the directions only to find three stalls with a "squatty-potty," a bucket of water, a hose and nozzle, and many friendly (and sometimes frighteningly furry) arachnids. After a few awkward attempts to figure it out on our own, we resigned to asking Pee Meow. She smiled, taught us the ways of the Thais, and told us of her perplexing experiences with American showers and toilets. Hooray for friends!

Well, I'm sure I've left out some good stuff, so if you want to know more there is always email, facebook, or skype. Amy and I would love to hear from you!

Sawasdee Ka!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sawasdee Ka (Hello in Thai)

We met an array of characters on the plane, including enthusiastic Americans, who thrilled at traveling without any plans whatsoever, a kindly old gentleman who calmly gave us directions, and an older man who heard we were going to be in Thailand a year and grimly shook his head, “You’ll never make it.” Each flight served us at least one full meal, most of which we could not identify. After over twenty-four hours of traveling, we were very ready to be there.

Upon finally arriving in Chiang Mai, Ozzie (our friend from Whitworth who has been here since May) and a team from Payap met us with cheery smiles. Everyone was extremely welcoming and neither of us could stop smiling. Back at Payap, we met our supervisor in the dorms, Ajaan Rujira, as well as the Dean of Nursing. The room we were given is actually more of an apartment: it has a bedroom, bathroom, and living room complete with a television and a few couches. Most importantly, perhaps, it has air conditioning. In leaving the airport even, the heat seemed to hang on top of us, but we have gotten a little more used to it even in a few days. Our room also has a little balcony overlooking part of campus that we will use to hang clothes for drying. We might even sit out there after mosquito season.

Ozzie and Shanna (the other Ra who is from Canada) have been so kind in taking us around Chiang Mai on their motorbikes. Motorbikes are the main mode of transportation here, weaving in and out of cars quickly, so closely in fact that I kept almost screaming at first. Sarah and I clung to the back handles, grinning furiously to ourselves beneath our helmets.

We planned on walking or biking here, neither of which is very safe, but are thinking about getting motorbikes after we get used to it a little. Nothing stops even for crosswalks.

Our responsibilities at Payap will include English tutoring for students and faculty in the Writing Center a few times a week, co-teaching Intro to Poetry and Drama for the English Communications department at the international school, and building community as RA’s in the nursing dorms, among many other things. Sarah will probably teach voice lessons for the music school as well.

Having just completed their first semester, most of the nursing students went home for the two week holiday, but now they are starting to trickle back. They are very gracious and reassuring in helping us with Thai pronunciation (Thai has five different tones, so the same sound said in each tone means something completely different) and with orienting us to Chiang Mai. Most are very shy, however, especially about their English, so relationships may take quite a while to develop. Their nicknames are quite interesting. So far we have met a “Newt”, a “Bla”, and a “Boom” among many others.

We have been able to laugh at our feeble attempts at Thai culture. Upon arriving , Ozzie taught us to “wai” our supervisors. When you “wai” someone you bow your head and lift your hands together right and say “sawadee ka” softly, which means hello. Sarah and I practiced carefully and successfully managed to “wai” everyone we saw, mostly street vendors, students, or janitors at Payap. The Thai people responded with smiles or giggles, “wai-ing” us back shyly. We later learned that you only “wai” direct supervisors or anyone who is your superior. Their smiles were not for our kind attempt to be Thai, but because they saw the humor in our efforts.

For those of you that know Anna (our college roommate who grew up in Chiang Mai), it is easy to see pieces of her everywhere. She is in the easy attitude that everything will work out…even if we are teachinga class in a week and don’t have a syllabus (having books is way ahead, apparently). She is in the way Thai people fully appreciate humor and find it in even the smallest of situations. She is in the way plants grow out of the sidewalk. She is in the dinner plate of Thai food that mingles spicy with sweet, salty, and sour all at once. You should probably come to her wedding in August here if you really want to know what I mean.