My free periods during the day are normally spent in some empty room in the school either writing things up or wasting time on Youtube. Technically I was given the library as an office to use, but as time has gone on I’ve gravitated more to using teaching rooms, as not only can I just stay in one until my next lesson if its free, but they all generally have decent fan systems.
More recently however I’ve become a lot more self-concious that I’m locking myself inside a lot of the time when I could be doing something more interesting. This became most apparent yesterday when I spent a free in Bubpha’s classroom. Each room here has a gate resembling something you would use to protect to a fairly prosperous-looking house that is locked before closing the room’s door, and whilst Bubpha locked this for me as she left the room in order to stop the kids from running in and bothering me, I began to wonder exactly how this made me look. The kids all apparently had a free too so they were running past the room and looking in at me, and eventually I decided I’d had enough of being literally caged in and unlocked the gate, giving them some free access to the class under my supervision.
They seemed pretty excited about this, and for the next 15 minutes I ended up having to watch them with anxious eyes as they ran around the classroom, making sure that they didn’t break anything. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of myself as an imposing figure before but I did certainly feel like a bit of a killjoy, so I got up and attempted to teach the kids something that the others this weekend were disgusted that I hadn’t already. Walking up to them, I said ‘High 5!’ whilst raising the palm of my hand in an inviting gesture… And was met by stunned silence from some and laughing by others.
Honestly, I was kind of hoping they’d already have some knowledge of what a High 5 was, and maybe they did, but apparently me approaching was too shocking for them to carry through with it. They ran off after a while and I sat back down slightly defeated, although not enough to give up altogether.
I think Bubpha then got the sense that I was trying to be more sociable, so when she came back she invited some more of the kids to come in the room and talk to me. It turns out they’re all quite shy, plus I may be assuming that they understand my awkward English ways more than they actually do (I think I assume people in England understand my awkward ways more than they actually do.)
Either way, we got talking with simple questions like where I was from and my favourite food and sports teams. Generally it was just nice to be interacting with the kids more, and I really don’t want to be seen as some guy who teaches occasionally and is rarely seen elsewhere. Hopefully I’ve now stepped further away from that image, and the kids are all extremely friendly and seem to be genuinely interested about me, so interacting with them in any way always leaves me in a good mood.
This evening Bubpha took me to a school where one of her friends worked, and after a quick tour complete with a lot of photo-taking I realised that it also operated as a farm of sorts. Apparently the director undertook a million baht renovation that involved increasing the height of the school so that crops could be placed underneath it, plus situated in the middle of the school’s lake was a rooster barn where they were kept before being sold on within the town. Despite the hatred of roosters I’ve gained over the last few weeks, the sight of them within cramped-looking cages made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Besides, imagine the noise of ten roosters going off at the same time.
The uncomfortable roosters were made up for slightly when I found the ‘science garden’ that displayed head statues of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein amongst others, and I now feel that every other school in the world is missing a trick by not having an equivalent.
We then went to a steakhouse for dinner, which I guess counts as copping out and eating more Western food but Bubpha’s friend had recommended it so I think it was justified. Everyone’s desire for me to eat as much food as possible really came into it’s own here, as once I had finished my steak Bubpha immediately bought me another one, no questions asked. Granted, since the meal came to 500 baht for all of us (just over £9) it’s much cheaper to do such things here than it is in Britain, but I can not imagine a day where I would turn down two free steaks.
And neither should you.