Thailand: The Beginning

Traveling, much like lack of sleep, can do wild things to the mind. Even the most balanced and kempt person can find themselves altered by this crazy thing we call "travel." Between culture, jet lag, uncertainty, and the nomadic, hermit-crab lifestyle one finds themselves falling into while traveling; the mind goes through a vigorous test of character. When it all comes to a close and you find yourself understanding what the word "structure" means again, that is when all of the highs and lows come together as the glue to bind together an experience that stays with you wherever the rest of your life takes you.

Now that my somewhat sappy, philosophical ramble is out of the way, let's talk about why this blog is here. Emily and I wanted to keep an online account of our travels through Thailand, Southeast Asia, and wherever else we end up. This whole trip stemmed from the curiosity of teaching abroad and the urge to see a part of the world that is in a way, on the other end of the spectrum from Western Culture.

After taking a 13-week, online course, coupled with a 20+ hour teaching practicum, we received our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificates. Our college degrees in conjunction with these certificates give us the appropriate credentials to teach English in a foreign country in virtually any teaching category: Public, Private, Corporate, Language Schools, International Schools, Private Tutor, etc.

Having heard many great things about the country, we booked two one-way-tickets to Bangkok, Thailand for February 25, 2012. With the flight booked, the only thing we had planned was a two-night stay at a hotel close to the airport to figure out a slight plan for our holiday before we began to work. After a 17-hour flight to Shanghai, a 3-hour layover, and a 4 hour flight to Bangkok, we found ourselves through customs and on the Bangkok pavement at 3:45am on February 27th (2 days later for you non-Mathletes). This is when the adventure begins...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"How do we Reach These TEACHers?!"

On the week of July 15th, Tha Bo School had no classes due to a 2-day seminar and a 3-day English Camp put on by none other than the 6 notorious farang, who I will name by their English and Thai names: Me (Bop!), Emily (Emery), Steve (Steeb), Phil (Pheeew), Brooke (Book), and the newly acquired Joe (Joe). I taught the first two-day seminar, which had to do with making your lessons work with your classroom environments. The short story of the whole thing was that Thai kids like to have fun - how are you supposed to have fun and learn at the same time? The answer to that question was provided over a two day period at that seminar. We had an awesome time and I met a lot of cool Thai teachers in the process.

After that seminar was over, we all had to prepare for 3-days of English Camp for around 35 Thai teachers in the area. What is English Camp you ask? Instead of writing an incredibly thorough and breathtaking narrative, giving you detailed, eyewitness accounts of the whole experience, I will instead provide you with a photographic interpretation. I hope you enjoy.

Welcome to English Camp! 

Weird how my mustache looks a bit like a caterpillar...
Steve's mustache is quite similar. Hmm...
Countdown - A word formation challenge the Brits play

BlockBusters - A British trivia challenge

Head Bands: A guessing game where you try to guess who or what you are! It can get pretty silly. Great for vocabulary and sentence structure practice. 
Ajarn (Teacher) Kasem. By day, he is the head of the English Department at Tha Bo School; at English Camp ... he is a banana.
The Write and Fold and Draw game that lacks a cute creative title...
The Weakest Link: Test your ASEAN and trivia knowledge with Joe - this guy may be new, but man can he teach with the best of them.
STRAW TOWER CONTEST: Who can build the tallest, most beautiful, and innovative tower with nothing but straws and tape? We'll see about that...
Something monumental is in the works.
Colorful and innovative. WOW!
Bowling: She's charming, witty, and can lay the foundation for any straw tower on the market.
Incorporating that McDonald's-esque-play-ball scored your team bonus points. Crafty little holster this team had. (Yoda?)

Pushing nearly 6-feet, it may win the height award, but how innovative is this straw skyscraper?
"Phil Nye the Science Guy" showing these teachers how yet's science that saves the day.
'Jeed' and 'X' being the Macho Men that they are. "Our tower may not be tall, but I'll tell you it can bark with the big dogs."
Impressive. If I was a little straw-man, I would consider moving in here.
I told you this tower was trouble: it was so strong, it could hold my size 11 dress shoes.

This one on the other hand couldn't even hold a little pink ball.
After the Straw Competition, Jeed performed a song on his ukelele that he wrote just for us. 
I will not put these on Ebay, so please do not inquire.
Teacher Steve: Tall, Funny, Smart, British, English Teacher at Tha Bo School....what more do you need?
ASEAN trivia challenge with your host: Phil Nye - let him inPhiltrate your brain :)
Now, it is time for the teachers to teach US! We split them up into small groups and had them teach us a 10-15 minute lesson using the skills they had learned in English Camp. 

Taboo - word guessing/describing game
Pong, the notoriously hard-working photographer.
Pong, the notoriously narcoleptic photographer.
Two snails racing...also known as Charades.
Hot dog kanom snack we came across during break time. "Kanom" means: Bread Snack.
Emily loves kanoms - this one is cocount. 
Bowling! She mysteriously transformed into a Vietnamese woman on ASEAN-Day.
Vietnamese Farmer

Emily: Brooke, I am literally wearing all of your clothes. You were there in spirit. And wardrobe.
Bob: No, I swear nobody is tickling me - ASEAN-Day is just THAT much fun.

May I present to you the winners of ASEAN-Day: Vietnam!
Although the Vietnam hat appears to be levitating over my head, it is actually gently resting on top of my head.
A bit out of chronological order, but this is from my seminar before English Camp. My hands are moving very fast, so that means I was teaching something very important.
Accepting the completion certificate from our school's Director.