Our First Week of School at Bunyawat

Setting the scene of the first day of class. We ride in on our motorbike into a large compound of 4 story buildings with thousands of students running about in 2 types of uniforms (a phys. ed. red and white striped jump suit or black shorts/skirt with a purple button down shirt). All the students are forced to abide by strict rules for grooming that includes girls wearing their hair no longer than shoulder length.  If their hair is past the shoulders the teachers will cut it during the morning assembly. Back to the school…… the morning starts off with the Thai National Anthem that plays on all televisions, radios and any other form of media precisely at 8am and 6pm.  Following the Anthem is a very poor Thai-rendition of the wonderful song Puff the Magic Dragon. Next, is the morning announcements and finally the students are sent off to class. Classes are back-to-back with no in between time.  Basically, this means that students can and do stroll into class whenever they please.  While consistently late they do always ask, “May I come in, please” before they enter. 

 

There is no air conditioning in the classrooms.  We have between 50 and 60 students per class and they always seem to be in one of two moods: crazy loud or completely shy.  Classes start off with a very monotonously recited “Good morning, Tea-cher.  How are you? We are fine.”  At the end of class all the students stand up and say, “Thank you, Tea-cher.  See you next time.”  The time in between is spent trying to break them out of the mold.  See, the students (and teachers, too) all have a very wide range of vocabulary and grammatical understanding. What they lack is simply the confidence of speaking.  Our primary goal is plainly one thing; get the students to speak. Easier said then done.  Basic greetings are no problem. However, trying to dig any deeper than that and, Houston, we have a problem.  It’s not difficult to understand why. The teachers don’t speak much English, and therefore, the students haven’t had the training to verbalize the language either. But Thailand is changing.  Teachers are beginning to speak.  Many of the younger students now are better speakers then the older ones because they are now getting the verbal training they need.

 

  Please note that we are both wearing pink because Monday is the day everyone wears pink. Dresscode blog to follow.

 

Students all know us by name, though it’s impossible to try to keep track of all of them.   Walking around school there is an endless amount of shouts coming from students saying, “Lenay! Lenay! Hello!” or “Wenson, HI!”  We’re a pretty big deal out here and outside of the classroom, when the pressure is off, the student’s love acknowledging that they know us. Often times students will “wai” us (put their hands together as if to pray and bow their head as a sign of respect), or they’ll bend a bit at the knees when passing to make themselves smaller -another sign of respect.  Hey, we can get used to this.

 

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~ by The Piersas on May 27, 2008.

2 Responses to “Our First Week of School at Bunyawat”

  1. I remember a professor of mine in college telling us about his stint of teaching English in China. Teachers there were treated with such reverence it was incredible. Glad to hear that that respect extends to Thailand, too bad it doesn’t cross the pond.

  2. I love the pink shirts. You both look so healthy and happy in the
    picture. Your blog is fantastic. I get a lot of satisfaction
    reading about your experiences.

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