Ah, well, there you have it. I finished out the school year here in Bangkok, and it feels amazing! This is my first summer break in two whole academic years, and I plan to enjoy every minute!
The night before the last day of school, the parents of a grade 2 student I know (because I help with IP2 Art class) invited a bunch of us foreign teachers over for dinner. It was so generous of them, and also just a wonderful way to end the year. They live in a gated community near the school in a beautiful home that looks like it came straight out of the U.S. We all felt like we were back home in a suburban neighborhood. It was very strange and also very comforting. We had homemade Thai food on their back porch, and chips and guacamole too. The mom is one of two toxicologists in all of Thailand, and the dad is a pediatrician. We were getting a glimpse into a lifestyle that is extremely different from that of most Thai people. (Pictures below are of my Spanish rice and homemade pad thai; and my Thai fruit dessert with coconut sticky rice!)
School ended last week during a crazy thunderstorm and power outage. It made good-byes very fast, as the kids were excited to go, no one could see anything anyway, and the rain made everyone want to try to beat traffic. I was surprised by the outpouring of gratitude from students. Teachers were all presented with beautiful garlands of flowers, and the students were emotional upon exiting the IP6 classroom. A few of their friends will be going to new schools next year, so it was a sadder good-bye for them than usual. These 32 kids have almost all been together since kindergarten, so the last day was difficult. It was such a relief to have a calm, fun last day of school. My last two final days of school as a teacher in San Jose were both ridiculously emotional for me and sad and busy and stressful. I had to say good-bye to students who thought they may never see me again. This time, I knew I’d see them all next year. Even the ones going to new schools will likely come back to visit.
I grew up believing that that is what teachers are meant to do — to stay put. And I still believe this, but I just haven’t been in a position to do that yet. For now, I’m a bit of a teaching nomad, but I am thankful to be sitting in the same desk next year.
Now that the kids are gone, teachers at my school are still working until March 29. Why? Well, I’m not exactly sure. I absolutely see the benefit of requiring us to work for a few days after school is out. It actually makes a lot of sense for the teachers’ last day to not be the same day as the students’. This system allows us to focus on the students more, and not so much the report cards and re-organizing our desks and classroom cabinets. That being said, I simply do not need 10 full working days to re-organize, grade, finish report cards, and twiddle my thumbs. But then again, I have learned this year that Thailand is all about work, for financial, but mostly social reasons. Thais are sort of expected to have work be their lives, so regardless of our students’ presence, we need to be at work…together…doing very little.
In addition to doing real work for school (though I don’t want to do too much prep for next year, as I have the entire month of May at work with no students), I have been…
– going out to lunch with my co-workers
– learning French on duolingo.com
– practicing Spanish on duolingo.com
– making a Power Point to show my former students when I visit them next month
– catching up on emails
– spending a lot of time on Pinterest
– taking 2-hour long lunch breaks
To be honest, I like this even better than just having the time off. It gets me out of bed and dressed, it allows me to socialize, and it helps me feel like I’m part of my school’s community. I think my experience this year would have been a lot different had I had last May with my co-workers (time before the kids came). Instead, I came into a new school in a new country a month into the school year. All the fun socializing and community-building was over! I cannot say enough how excited I am to be starting a new school year already knowing what’s going on!
I am also very joyful to be coming HOME for a month. I’ll be in Southern California for a week, the South Bay for a week, Vancouver with Sean for a week, and then back to the North Bay for a few days to celebrate my Aunt Becky’s birthday. While I’m home, I get to take three of my nieces out to celebrate their graduations (preschool, elementary school, and high school), I get to attend my best friend’s bridal shower, I get to meet my friend’s newborn daughter, I get to see old friends, I get to visit my former students, I get to spend time with my family and Sean’s, I get to celebrate Becky’s birthday, and I might even get to meet my friend/Sean’s cousin’s newborn son! Joy, joy, joy!