Dad on Campus

I think my Dad is enjoying the relaxing pace of Khon Kaen.� Bangkok can feel kind of busy�and stressful, so it feels good to be here after several days in the big city.� Dad�is staying�at�Kwanmor, the hotel I was supposed to live in all year.� I moved out because it was a depressing place to live and they wanted to charge me too much money.� Luckily for Dad, they've made some good improvements!� Dad's room is much nicer than my room was.� There are no bugs in it and there are some pretty flowers right outside his door.

I rented a bike for Dad to ride around campus.� I go almost everywhere on bike, so it made sense for him to have a bike while he's here.� Dad's bike is pretty small, but he's being a good sport about it.� Today we rode to a restaurant off campus for dinner.� After that we rode to the night market for some�banana roti (that's a really great crepe-type dessert).� We've been doing a lot of walking this week, so we�thought we deserved�to treat ourselves to something really fattening.

I'm having fun showing Dad around Khon Kaen!

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Dad on the train to Ayuttaya

Dad and I just arrived in Khon Kaen this afternoon.� We had a busy weekend in Bangkok!�

Dad's first day in Bangkok wasn't too exciting.� I had an errand to run, so Dad came along with me to take care of that.� We went to the Jim Thompson House Museum, and then we went to a movie.� I don't get to see many movies, so it's a treat to watch English-soundtrack movies in Bangkok.� Unfortunately, we picked a weird, boring movie (Fur with Nicole Kidman and Robert Downy Jr).�

Dad's second day in Thailand was much more fun.� We got up early to catch a�train to Ayuttaya, the old capital of Thailand.� We took a 3rd class train, which meant that there was no air conditioning on the 2-hour trip. The weather was cool enough that it didn't really matter.� We got some interesting views of life in Bangkok from the train, so I really enjoyed�the ride.� It was well worth the 15 baht tickets! We met a really nice man on the train.� He gave us a lot of travel advice and then led us to a ferry boat that would take us into the old city of Ayuttaya.� He actually paid our way on the ferry boat and pointed out where we could buy a bus ticket back to Bangkok at the end of the day.

Ayuttaya has a lot of 13th-15th century ruins that we wanted to see.� The ruins were pretty spread out so we did a lot of walking.��We visited some beautiful old temples and a museum.� In the afternoon we�spotted some elephants�in a�park.��Finally,�we�hired a long-tail boat to take�us around the island of Ayuttaya. The boat ride was really great; we saw�many old ruins from the boat.� It also felt good to�sit and relax after walking all over the island all day!

Click here to see pictures of Ayuttaya.

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Dad’s on His Way!

It's hard to believe it, but my dad is already on his way here!��He is probably in Taipei right now, waiting for his flight to Bangkok.� I'm about to leave for my flight down to Bangkok.� I'll arrive at about 9:30, but I'll hang out in the airport until dad arrives at 12.� I'm excited for dad's trip!� We'll do some sightseeing in Bangkok for a few days, then come up to Khon Kaen.� I have classes all next week, so he'll visit some of my classes.

�I'll fill you in on our Bangkok adventures�in a few days!

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The Agriculture Fair

The KKU Agriculture department is hosting an agriculture fair this week.� I went to the fair tonight with Umph and Jan, two of my 1st year students.� The fair was really neat!� We saw lots of beautiful flowers and some interesting animals, including cows with big humps on their backs.� We also wandered through the handicraft area before stopping for some dinner.� We bought our food and then walked all over the fair looking for a place to sit and eat.� We found a short little table on a mat (no chairs) and sat down.� As soon as we got situated at our little table, some students asked us to participate in a rice taste test!��We were asked to rate two kinds of rice on color, smell, size, stickiness, taste, and consistency.� I was really proud of myself for being able to tell the difference between the two types of rice.� I think I've become quite a rice connoisseur!� Jan, Umph, and I agreed that the 2nd cup of rice was much better in all of the categories.� After we submitted our surveys, we found out that the 1st cup of rice (the one we didn't like) was organic.� The one we liked was the "normal" kind of rice that most people use.� I was surprised that there was such a big difference between the two.

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Camping in Roi-et

church_camp_022.jpgMy weekend in Roi-et was different from what I expected, but it was really nice.� The pictures I've seen of previous retreats showed beautiful resorts with swimming pools and and nice, comfortable looking rooms.� So I was kind of expecting to stay in a hotel.� Instead, I shared a room�11 other girls.� We slept on mats on the floor and shared 1 bathroom.� I didn't mind the mats; they were actually really comfortable!� I didn't enjoy sharing the bathroom so much.� Thai people take 2 showers a day, so we had to shuffle 12 people through the shower every morning and every evening.� Luckily, the weekend was pretty slow-paced.� There was plenty of time scheduled for resting and hanging out with people.

The retreat was a typical church retreat.� There were speakers, discussion times, and games.� I enjoyed all of it.��I felt encouraged by the speakers and the discussions I had with people.� I had a great time hanging out with Khim, Lynne, and Betsy (Khim and Lynne are TESOL�students who attend my church).� I also got to know some acquaintances better and met a lot of new people.� I think I'll feel more comfortable during social time at church in the future.

The only bad thing about the weekend was that I felt really embarrased about how little Thai I know.� On the first day, they passed around a bag of candy and asked everyone to take as many pieces as they wanted.� I suspected that we were going to have to tell one thing about ourselves for every piece of candy we took, so I only took one piece.� I ended up not having to say anything about myself, but�it got me thinking about what I would say if I had to.� I realized that I don't know how to talk about myself at all.� I can say "My name is Emily", but I don't know how to say that I'm from the U.S. or that I'm an English�teacher.� After 8 months in the country, that's kinda embarrasing.��Pretty much�all I can do in Thai is talk about food�and ask where things are.� Oh, and I can talk about the weather because I know how to say "It's hot", "It's cool", and "It's raining".� I'm disappointed in myself.

I don't want to end this post on an unhappy�note, so I'll write about the animals we saw in Roi-et.� The camp we stayed at had big cages with all kinds of animals in them.� There was a monkey cage, a rabbit cage, a macaw cage, and some other cages with animals I couldn't identify.� There was also a big field with water buffalo, an ostrich, and goats in it!� Lynne and I took a walk around the field on Sunday to see the animals.� I got some good pictures of them!

Click here to see pictures of my weekend.� The first few pictures are of Lynne demonstrating how to wear big Thai pants.

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Going to Roi-et

Tomorrow I'm going to Roi-et for a church retreat.� It sounds like it's going to be a very relaxing weekend.� There will be some talks in Thai, which I won't understand at all, but I don't mind.� I'm looking forward to getting out of Khon Kaen and spending some time with church friends.

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Flight Attendant Jobs

I have 6 English-language channels on my TV:� MTV, CNN, MNET Movies 1, MNET Movies 2, and 2 sports channels.� I don't like watching sports and MTV can get annoying, so�I watch a lot of movies and news.� Right now I'm watching a Gwyneth Paltrow movie on MNET Movies 1.� She's playing a woman who dreams of becoming a flight attendant.� She gives up almost everything to pursue her "destiny" of working for an international airline.��It reminds me of my students.� (Well, except for the giving up everything part)

Last semester, I asked my students to write paragraphs about their dream jobs.� Almost all of them wrote that they wanted to be flight attendants.� It's a really good job to have in Thailand.� If you speak at least 3 languages (one of them has to be English), you can apply to become a flight attendant on an international airline.� It's very competitive, but if you're lucky enough to land one of those jobs, you get an excellent salary and opportunities to travel all over the world.� On top of that, Betsy tells me that flight attendants used to be portrayed as "angels in the sky" on TV here.� I guess I can understand the appeal of being a flight attendant, but I would hate it.� I don't like how airplanes smell.

In case you're curious, only 2 students (out of 31)�wrote that their dream was to become an English teacher.

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Teacher’s Day Celebrations

Today was Teacher's Day, so classes were cancelled and special activities were planned.�There was a religious ceremony at 7 am.� I didn't go because, well, it was at 7 am.�Then there were some teacher "sports", which were mostly wacky relay races.� I didn't go to that activity either because I was teaching during that time.� That's right! I didn't cancel my classes!� Teacher's Day is not really an official holiday.� People say since it's Teacher's Day, teachers can decide whether or not to have class.� My students weren't happy about it, but I decided that we needed to have class today.� We've been losing too many class periods to holidays!

The final activity of the day was a big dinner party.� Dinner parties here are always the same.� They tell you it starts at 6, but it really doesn't start until 7 or 8.� They serve the same 8-10 course Chinese dinner every time, and it lasts FOREVER!� I usually stay for a good 3 hours, and I'm always the first to leave.� There's usually some loud musical entertainment, some Thai dancing, and some karaoke.

I didn't want to go to the dinner party, but the dean�invited me to come, and I thought it would be rude to skip it. The party was scheduled to start at 6, so I waited in my office until 7 before going out to the party area. I was seated at a table with the 2 Japanese teachers and some Thai teachers who speak English.� As I waited for the first course to be served, I began thinking that I wished I hadn't come.� But then the KKU marching band came out!�

I didn't know KKU had a marching band, but it does!� The band is made up of about 30 6-year olds.� They wear the standard marching band uniform with plumes and everything. They play an instrument called the melodian, which a hand-held keyboard that you blow into.� (I'd never seen one before tonight).� They started by playing "When the Saints Go Marching In", then moved on to a John Philip Sousa march before ending their show with 2 of the king's compositions. They moved while they played, just like marching bands in half-time shows.� They were very impressive!� I mean, you'd expect a group of 6 year olds to hit a lot of bad notes, but they didn't.� I didn't hear any bad notes.� I can't even imagine how much they must have to practice.� Anyway, the KKU Marching Band made the entire evening worthwhile.� They were adorable!

After the marching band performance we lit candles to honor our former teachers, and some people set off flying paper lanterns.� It was really beautiful.

After all 10 courses were served and the karaoke started back up again, the Japanese teachers and I debated how to make a quick exit without drawing attention to ourselves and left.� It was a fun evening.

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The Bilingual School

This morning I visited a local bilingual school.� My colleagues asked me to accompany the students to the school even though there was no real reason for me to be there.� I'd heard some good things about the school, so I was eager to see it and learn more about it.� I thought we'd get a tour and we'd talk with some teachers.� Instead, the school planned 2 hours of presentations and talks for us.� I was placed in the front row like always because I'm a teacher.� Everyone there spoke English, so I was really disappointed when the presentations turned out to be entirely in Thai.� It's�so difficult to sit there�and try to look interested when you can't understand anything that's being said!� I got really bored.� We took a break after the first hour, and one of the teachers volunteered to show me and Masayo (the Japanese teacher in the Ed. dept) around the school.� That was really great!� The campus was beautiful and we really enjoyed learning about the program.

This school teaches some subjects in English and some subjects in Thai.� They have many native-English speaking teachers from Australia and New Zealand.� The classes are really small; each section has only 6 or 7 students.� The classes looked like fun too!� Students spend a lot of time working on interesting projects and�doing group work.� The school was definately impressive!� I found myself wishing that we had schools like that at home!

My students were impressed by the school as well, but I think they also felt discouraged by the visit.� Thai teachers at the school can only teach art, social students and physical education.� The school will only hire native English speakers for English-teaching positions.� So my students learned about this great school where they will never be allowed to teach because they aren't native English speakers.

Thai English teachers are often passed over for teaching positions in favor of native English speakers.� Unfortunately, many of these native English speakers are not trained language teachers.� (That isn't the case at the bilingual school we visited today, though).� Anyway, one of my students told me today that she's worried about finding a job after she graduates.� She's worried that schools are going to want to hire only native speakers.� This particular student is going to be a fabulous teacher.� Her language skills are very good, she's creative, and she works hard.� It's sad that someone like that has to worry about finding a job.

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My Hectic Week

This has been a busy week, and not just because we had no holidays!� In addition to teaching all of my classes for the first time in�a month & a half,�I�went to a presentation on a new software program, selected�new software for�the TESOL computer lab, and taught�the new conversational English class.�Tomorrow is Friday and I only teach 1 afternoon class.� I was looking forward to sleeping in a little and having a fairly relaxed day tomorrow.�Then I was asked to accompany our 2nd year students on a field trip to a local bilingual school.� I agreed to go before I learned that the field trip starts at 8 am!� I know that's not very early for most people, but it's early when you go to bed after midnight every night!

Remember my list of things to do before I leave Thailand?� Well, about half of them were suggested by Job, one of my 2nd year students.� It was a good move to involve her in my to-do list!� She's been finding songs and lyrics for me to learn and she's going to go with me to Big C this weekend to buy my kaen (that's the musical instrument I want to learn).� She also knows I want to learn how to cook Thai food, so we're going to the night market tonight to watch people make pad thai.

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