Saying Goodbye

golf_and_fon.jpgDaniel, the other teacher from NAU, left Thailand tonight.� He left early because he was offered a job in Korea that starts tomorrow.�The last two weeks have been really hectic for us. We had several joint projects to finish, so we had to spend a lot of long days at the office.� Daniel spent most of his last day in Thailand packing.��He did have some fun though.We met Golf and Fon (pictured left)�at Fairy Plaza�for Daniel's last meal in Thailand–pizza and ice cream.� The four of us meet at Fairy Plaza for�pizza and ice cream almost every week. It's kind of our thing. After pizza and ice cream, we met up with a group of students to take Daniel to the airport.� It was a little sad to send him off.� It makes me realize how little time I have left.

Anyway, It's been a tough couple of weeks.�I've�gone through so many emotions:��stress about having to crank out an entrance exam for the TESOL program in�a week and a half;��frustration with�the many things that went wrong with the test; anger when I learned, once the test was basically finished, that NAU is also�creating an entrance exam for the program and doesn't want to use ours; and, of course, sadness about leaving everyone here.�

farewell_party.jpgBy far, the most difficult evening was Friday night, when the TESOL students threw a Farewell party for me and Daniel.� When I arrived at the party, Tui, the MC, told me that it would be a sad evening and that I would cry a lot.�I kind of laughed uncomfortably and thought "Nah…I'm not leaving for another 3 weeks!� I'm not going to be sad tonight."� I was wrong.�

Several students prepared presentations for us.� There was a really cool traditional dance.� It was followed by a group of girls in crazy costumes lip-singing to "I Will Survive".� After that, the MC announced that Daniel and I were both going to sing a song.� It was the first I'd heard of it.� I think my reaction to the situation really shows how much I've grown in my 10 months in Thailand.� Instead of freaking out and refusing to get up and sing, I sucked it up and sung a duet with Daniel.� Neither of us wanted to sing, and we figured that by singing a duet, we could cut our singing time in half.� So we sang Hotel California.� Very badly.� It was embarrassing and I felt nervous at first.� But it was ok and it made everyone happy.

After the karaoke time, students started standing up to say goodbye.� Probably 75% of our students volunteered to give little goodbye speeches.� Some of the speeches were funny, but most of them were very sad.� Almost everyone in the room was crying.�Of course, I was asked to give an impromptu�speech at the end. I think I came up with some pretty good stuff!� (See how much I've learned here?)

So the Farewell Party was really sad.� There was a lot of full-blown weeping going on.�I felt really uncomfortable.� I really hate saying goodbye to people, and I usually try to avoid heavy, emotional goodbyes.��But, actually, I think it was good.� I've seen many of the students since that night, and said goodbye to them for good.� And these final goodbyes haven't been sad.�It's like we already mourned.� We've already been sad and cried, so we can just leave each other with a smile and a hug.

You can see pictures of the farewell party here. There are even a few embarrasing pictures there that prove that I really did get up and sing in front of 80 people. well…I guess I can't prove the 80 people part.� You'll have to trust me on that one!

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Testing Testing Testing

When I first saw the school calendar for this semester, I felt annoyed that finals lasted an entire month. I was imagining how bored I would be because I knew there was no way it would take me an entire month to give final exams and score them.� As it turns out, though, I'm pretty busy.� My whole life is revolving around tests.� I'm writing final exams, watching students take their tests, grading final exams, making an entrance exam for the TESOL program, and writing a proposal for another big test. I don't really like testing.� I'd much rather be teaching.

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Pizza & Ice Cream

kib_and_khim.jpgThere are a lot of foods I've missed eating during my time in Thailand, but I haven't missed pizza or ice cream at all.� Actually, I've eaten much more pizza and ice cream in Thailand than I ever did at home.

Tonight I went to the Pizza Company and Swenson's with Kib &�Khim (pictured to the right), Lynne, Job, Daniel, &�Betsy.� The Thai girls ate some kind of seafood pizza.� We farangs�shared a more conventional (to us) Italian sausage pizza.

As if being stuffed with pizza weren't enough, we followed it up with a�trip to Swenson's for ice cream sundaes.��Sarantip likes to say that�after you eat too much, you need to go to�lebanon.� "Lebanon" is the Thai word for "lay down".� So I'm gonna go to lebanon now!

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lynne.jpgThe best part of Thailand, for me, is the people.� I've met so many wonderful and interesting people.� Now that I only have a few weeks left, I want to tell you about some of them.

This is Lynne.� She is probably the most outgoing person I've ever met.� She'll talk to anyone!� She has a ton of energy.� She makes me laugh a lot.� She's also kind of a bully.� Once, at lunch, I noticed a commotion a few meters away.��Lynne was trying to tackle a girl who was running away from her.� Lynne�grabbed�the girl around the waist and and started dragging her towards me.��The girl looked absolutely terrified and was desperately trying to get away.� I found out later that Lynne wanted the girl to practice her English with me.� Lynne definately knows how to get what she wants.

Lynne's also really good at taking care of me.� She often takes me to church on Sundays (she goes there too), and she's always offering to help me out with problems that come up.� She�sometimes jokingly talks about�burning down the bars across the street from my apartment.� Today I woke up with a headache and sore throat, so I skipped church.� She called me tonight to check up on me and offer me a ride to work tomorrow.��She's�so thoughtful!�

So that's Lynne.� Hopefully some of you will meet her in Arizona in a year & a half.

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King Naresuan





Tonight I went to see King Naresuan, an epic Thai movie about a famous king from the 16th century.� It's actually a trilogy, and I saw the 2nd part of it tonight.� The first part was playing a few weeks ago.� It had English subtitles, so we assumed that the 2nd movie would have them as well.� It didn't.� You can imagine how disappointed I was�when the movie started and there were no subtitles!�To make matters worse, the movie was 3 hours long!

Actually, not understanding the dialogue was not as big a problem as you might expect.� There were a lot of battle scenes, so there wasn't much talking anyway.� The movie was all about war, so I really just needed to know who�attacking whom.� Fon sat next to me and filled me�in on details whenever necessary.� I enjoyed seeing the costumes and sets.� That was the best part for me.

I didn't see the first movie of the trilogy, so I did some research about King Naresuan before�going to the movie.�King Naresuan, the prince of Phisanoluk (which, together with Ayuttaya, made up the kingdom of Siam), was taken hostage by the king of Burma when he was 9�years old.��There, he lived as a monk and learned how to fight.��The king of Burma took pretty good care of him.� Naresuan left Burma as a teenager after his sister agreed to sleep with the king in exchange for his release.� He returned to Burma when the king died because he wanted to go to the king's funeral.�It's a good thing he did, because the Burmese king's son got really upset with kingdoms who didn't sent representatives to the funeral.� The movie I saw tonight opened with the Burmese army attacking a community because they didn't attend the king's funeral.� Naresuan seemed to be helping them.

Anyway, in the end, Naresuan became a really good king.� You can get some more information about him by going to the King Naresuan movie website (just click on the above picture to go there).

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Introducing Sateen


This is Sateen,�one of the Education Department's van drivers.� He's one of my favorite people in Khon Kaen.� We can't really communicate�since he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Thai.� Still, he always brightens my day when I see him.� He always has a big smile on his face (except for in this picture).� He's a very kind man.� In fact, many people in the education department call him "Uncle Sateen".� He has been particularly good to me and Daniel.� Whenever�he sees either of the farang (foreign) teachers looking unhappy (which doesn't happen very often), he calls Mod and tells her that she needs to arrange a vacation for us.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is Valentine's�Day and I'm celebrating by having pizza and ice cream with some students and Daniel.��I'll�wear a helmet when I ride�to the Pizza Company restaurant on Daniel's motorbike.��Unfortunately, that means I won't be getting any roses from police officers tonight.�

This�article was in today's Bangkok Post:

"Love is also in the air in Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai, where traffic police will today hand out roses instead of traffic tickets to unruly drivers.

In the campaign, entitled ''We Arrest You Out of Love'', motorists will receive warnings, roses and leaflets outlining 19 traffic offences and safe driving tips.

''We want to emphasise that strict controls over drunk driving, no-helmet driving and many other offences are acts of love and care,'' said Pol Maj-Gen Kawee Suphanand, deputy commander of Region 4 Police.

But children and teenagers will not receive this heart-warming treatment if they are spotted in entertainment venues and hotels at night in Khon Kaen, he said.

In the case of underage children, their parents will be asked to pick them up. Adults with them will face charges."

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Night Market Tunes

I went to the night market last night with some students.� The night market mostly sells a bunch of really small clothes and dorm-room junk.� I usually don't buy anything there, but it's still fun to walk around.� They always play music�on the loudspeakers, so you can hear the latest Thai pop music while you shop.� (By the way, the loudspeakers also play the national anthem at 9 am and 6 pm every day.� Everyone stops what they're doing to stand and listen.� I'm gonna miss that!)

Anyway, you know that 70's disco song "Ring My Bell"?� Well, they played a remake of that last night.� I couldn't tell if the singer was singing in Thai or incomprehensible English, so I asked a student what the lyrics were.� Turns out the song was being sung in Thai.� The lyrics have been changed a bit in the Thai version.� Instead of "You can ring my bell" in the chorus, the Thai version has "underwear is falling from the sky"!

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My Last Few Classes

Classes at KKU ended last week, but I'm teaching some classes this week to make up for all of those holidays.� My students are taking finals and finishing up big projects, so I'm making it a fun week.� My mom sent a bunch of great Valentine's Day stuff, so we're learning about Valentine's Day and playing lots of games.

It's hard to believe that the semester's just about over.� I still have another month here, but it's starting to feel like the end.� The 3rd year students had a going away party for me and Daniel last week.� It seems a bit early for that.� Makes me think we might be going through this process of saying goodbye for an entire month…

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The Temple Festival


My dad left Khon Kaen on a Thursday.� The students were really disappointed that he wouldn't be able to go to their Temple Festival on Friday.� They told us that they were going to dress up in traditional costumes and play games and dance.� I went to the festival expecting to see my students dressed like characters in the King & I.� Instead, they were dressed in 60's & 70's garb.� It was a carnival.� Each department had a booth with games and food.� There was also a karaoke contest and a live band.

Click here to see pictures!

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