The first official Friday of my employment, all classes were cancelled in order to accommodate Sports Day, a special day for sports competitions that is held once every year. It may only be one day, but the students spend months preparing. From what I understand, the students prepare for two or three months, practicing dances for the opening ceremony, getting in shape for the competitions, and making the props to decorate the field for their team color. The students are separated into four colors: blue, pink, violet, and green. There is usually a great deal of unity between the students, but on Sports Day, the team colors shine and loyalties are separated. But really, each color is very supportive of the other. I only felt positive emotions that day, and I didn’t see any sore losers. To me, it was like a mini Olympics. The day started with a parade down the highway, complete with elaborate costumes and floats. There was an opening and closing ceremony, competitions in running, basketball, badminton, and the crowd favorite football (soccer, as we call it in America). The director of the school attended, along with most of the staff and all of the students. It was a very exciting day for all, especially the students that had worked so hard to bring the day together. As a foreign teacher, I had the honor of handing out some of the awards and helping the students to celebrate their victories. It was a long day in the relentless Thailand sun, but watching the choreographed dances, hearing the cheers of the students, and rooting for the various colors made all the sweat worth it.
A Thai Birthday Party
The Thais know how to throw a party. Unlike in America, in Thailand the person whose birthday it is (the host) is the one to pay for and arrange everything. And they seem to spare no expense. The party for my coworker, Kru Oh, started after our department meeting around 5. My fellow foreign teach played a guitar while we sang happy birthday and formed a procession through the classroom to present cakes to Kru Oh and one of the interns who also had a birthday recently. Purple tablecloths were laid over desks, four bowls of food were spread over them, two cakes were cut, and about a thousand pictures were taken. And this was just the pre-dinner meal. After about an hour of eating, chatting, and taking more and more pictures, we cleaned up and headed to the official dinner at a restaurant called Shabu Indy. With a big group of people such as ours, you sit according to status. So
being a new foreign teacher, I was in the middle of the table, wedged between the Thai teachers and the temporary intern teachers. We sat at a long table at the Japanese-style restaurant, and four hot plates and pots of broth were placed along the table. Raw meat, fish, noodles, and vegetables were served to us on trays, and my coworkers promptly threw the raw products into the boiling broth, creating quite a tasty mixture from which we plucked bits of food from for the next two hours as the platters kept coming. After a long day of lesson planning (I’ve still had very few classes due to an extra college prep course that many of my students are taking), the party was exactly what I needed. Luckily, one of the intern teachers speaks very good English and is able to translate for me during these get-togethers, so I’m able to socialize with my coworkers who aren’t able to speak much English. The party helped me experience the camaraderie that exists in the Foreign Language Department, and reminded me, once again, how lucky I am to have found this place.
With the Loy Krathong Festival approaching next week, the celebrations will only intensify, and I expect the Thais will maintain their well-earned reputation for knowing how to throw a party.