So about an hour ago we got back from an open-air buffet restaurant situated by the side of a motorway outside of Ayutthaya, which on paper doesn’t actually sound like it would be as nice as it was. Ultimately I think that’s because I’m looking at it through a British perspective, where motorways are bland uninteresting places that people strive to spend as little time as possible on or near. Here however, the weather is fresh and there’s enough going on around you that makes for an interesting experience (plus when someone is paying for you, as Harry’s mentor Tam was, you can’t really complain.)
I learnt a new valuable lesson from it too. The restaurant had a large selection of raw food in their buffet, and each table has a mini grill situated on it with the intention that you bring most of the uncooked buffet food over to your table and cook it yourself. However, since for some reason this didn’t initially click to me, I took a raw piece of bacon, assuming that it was just a very mildly cooked piece of meat prepared in some sort of traditional Thailand way, and promptly ate the whole thing before Tam told me that I should have cooked it first. Thus i had a quick realisation and panic that I’d just eaten raw meat, which I’m sure has never been good for anyone, ever. I fortunately haven’t seen any negative effects from it yet, but I think it’s claimed the top spot for the dumbest thing I’ve done here so far.
I think I improved on teaching today, mainly because my English Camp game didn’t end up in complete shambles like it had done yesterday. Today I just decided to go with a simple game of Chinese Whispers, although since we have such a big class I had to split them all into three smaller groups and get them to race each other (tell a simple english sentence to one child in each group, they run back and tell it to the person next to them etc, last child runs up to me to tell me the sentence). In theory this could have gone terribly wrong as well as there was a lot of room for cheating (the first kid could have just quickly told the last one what the sentence was before anyone else, and because there’s so many of them I wouldn’t have been able to tell), so I realised I was putting a lot of faith in these primary school children in staying honest. They did in the end, and it was nice to organise and teach something that wasn’t shrouded in utter confusion.
After school I went with Bubpha, the headmaster and the other school staff to Watphachi Temple again, this time to see the cremation of the women whose funeral had been held the night before. I got to learn about some more Thai traditions through this; the ceremony involves being given a flower to place underneath the coffin, and apparently you have to wash your hands afterwards as well, although I’m not sure as to exactly why that is. Hopefully the photos show how nice the outside of the temple is; as it was a funeral I felt that it would be disrespectful to take any, but after being encouraged to by the staff I figured it wasn’t seen that way.
The only issue I have tugging at my mind at the moment in regards to teaching is that I would sometimes like to have more of an active involvement in things. In my non-English Camp classes I’m generally used to pronounce words to the kids and occasionally walk around the class to ask reinforcing questions to them, and whilst I do feel that I’m getting involved through this I’m slightly jealous of the people who are left to teach a whole lesson by themselves most of the time. Having said that, this is still only the first week of teaching (although it feels like I’ve been here longer than that) and I already feel like my role has evolved ever so slightly since the first day. It’s nice to actually have some structure with what I’m doing rather than being thrown into a class of manic kids with limited english skills too, and Bubpha talked to me today about more activities such as interviewing the kids on english that they want me to start on next week, so clearly the only way is up. And to top that all off, apparently the headmaster wants me to play guitar and sing in front the kindergarten class at some point soon, so now I’m sitting here contemplating exactly what obscure 90s indie songs I can try and get these kids into.
If they’re not all singing Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by the time I’ve left, I have failed as a teacher.