Monday, September 29, 2008
The classroom at Chulalongkorn University where Orientation is held.
My name in Thai.
Lunch. Rice and veggies with wa wa juice. About 30THB in total. Less than $1 USD. I'm getting spoiled here. The little bowl is full of spices...phet maak (very spicy).
Oh, and before I forget… Today we talked about our role as teachers/Fulbrighters to share information about American culture. Someone asked how much we should focus on sharing things about our culture. I couldn’t help but ignore all of the universally generalized American culture concepts that people mentioned (i.e. thanksgiving, New York, fast food). For me, my students will learn about my home, Louisville. It’s only been a week, but the others here already know how much I love my city, how much I represent my hometown. I feel as though I represent it well, and I can’t wait to share what I love about Louisville with my Thai students.
Chike, myself, Kate, and Audra at Saxaphone Pub in Bangkok, listening to live music and eating spicy foods.
Photos of my room at Suskit Nives International Dorm. Notice the Louisville IronMan poster, the 1950's style green fridge, and my awesome world map (thanks again Slim!).
Me, Carla, Ahna, Audra
View of the city from the skytrain.
All day has been great, as all ten of us have been willing to come out together. The place we are eating at now is so very interesting. Every place in sight is on the streets and open to the elements. They cook the food in front of you and hundreds of people sit at tables which line the streets. Traffic is heavy and practically on all sides of us. Fulbright has provided us with a book on “Thai Street Food”. I must read it soon, for it is common to eat on the streets around the area where we are staying. Ordering food here is incredibly difficult for non-Thai speakers. Most of the time, a lot of pointing, saying “mai ao nueua ka” (no meat please) and gesturing results in an adequate meal –it actually makes me feel a bit like a child again, not able to read the menu, although this time without a parent to read me my options.
Well, life is good.
Some of the crew: (from top left) Brad, Zoe, Karen, JR's forehead, Timmy, Chike, Ahna, and Nim.
Oh, by the way…
After dinner, Kate and I fed an elephant, a baby elephant. Ha, only in Thailand!
A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister of Thailand declared Bangkok in a “state of emergency” in the mist of 30,000 plus protesters outside the government buildings in the capital city. I only know what I read from the BangkokPost and other online news sources, but now that I am flying in that direction, I begin to have more curiosities about the implications of living in a protesting city/country. Will I witness any protests? If so, you can be certain, I will keep my distance. Will the morale of those at TUSEF (Thailand-U.S. Educational Foundation, the organization responsible for my Fulbright grant in Thailand) be down? Is it silly of me to have such concerns?
I feel anxious right now thinking about life in this foreign country. I know one thing for certain –I am going to pour all of my effort into making Thailand a familiar country rather than a foreign country. I am eager to learn the language, the culture and traditions.
What will the food be like? Will I find a place where I fit in? Will students really be able to learn from me, from what I have to offer? When I make mistakes, will I recover quickly? Will my Thai colleagues see me as a polite and respectful American?
This is the time to believe in what I know –I am patient, open-minded, flexible, and optimistic. So, I suppose I should say chook dii (good luck) to myself. Afterall, I am leaping into the biggest adventure of my life thus far.
Thank you to everyone in my life who helped make this opportunity possible. Your love and support was, and continues to be, life-changing. I love you and miss you all.
Next stop Tokyo. Three hour layover. Six and a half hour flight to Bangkok. Sleep.
I’m on the flight now to Bangkok. I’ve been introduced to the other seven Fulbrighters on this flight. On the plane, I am seated next to little Noah (age 3), whose parents are living in Myanmar working for the Embassy on behalf of the U.S. State Department. I was able to speak at length with them about the situation in Myanmar. My previous knowledge stems from research I did for a paper in my International Negotiations course last semester.
It is 5:22am in Louisville. It is 6:22pm in Tokyo. It is 4:22pm in Bangkok. It is 11:23am in Amsterdam (near where I used to live in Holland –Den Haag).
Time is such an unusual concept. It is great for organization of course, but nearly useless today/tomorrow/yesterday to me at this very moment. I woke this morning, technically yesterday morning, at 7:30am in Louisville. After hours and hours of travel, I am comically confused. Should I be hungry? Should I be tired? Is it actually a new day, or just a new time to set my watch by (EST plus 11 hours)? Ha! Mai pen rai (no worries).
Bangkok, here we come.
Sawatdee ka (hello and goodbye)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
In two weeks, I will be joining 9 others from across the United States to teach English as a Second Language in Thailand.
For more information about the Fulbright Program:
For more information about my trip to Thailand, stay posted. I will be blogging about:
- the five-week orientation program in Bangkok
- my school assignment at Princess Chulabhorn's College in Chiang Rai
- learning the Thai language
- random facts, thoughts, and ideas
- tears and laughter
+ Paige +
For more information, checkout the following websites documenting my journey: