Sometimes when you are very far from home, in a place where you have absolutely NO idea what anyone is saying, where there are no rules, where you are doing a job you are definetely not qualified for, and you almost get hit by a car or motorbike every 5 mins, you can get emotionally and physically exhausted. And sick and tired of the grind.
Lately, I have lived for the weekends here. This country itself is amazing and traveling gives me a boost of energy and a shock of life. The new places, the adventure of getting there, the new people, hostels, guest houses, restaurants, sites, history, I love it all. But Monday- Friday can be tough. The kids don’t listen some days, lessons don’t go according to plan, you get hit with random things you need to buy/pay for school (6 new passport photos please, the ones you gave us won’t work), and you just want to sleep in a normal bed that doesn’t feel like sleeping on a diving board.
So it just takes the little things, the teensiest occurrences, that can really make ones day. Well mine at least. And more than one? That’s a win.
Today three awesome things happened to make my Wednesday a win. I started the day off over sleeping, learning that we needed to take new passport photos for our work permits, that we owed money for a Christmas party and that our Christmas activities were changed to Christmas Eve, meaning we would teach all day on Christmas. All before 8:30. Then my first class acted like a bunch of neanderthals, almost all failed their “Parts of a Letter Quiz”, basically trying to push me over the edge, and almost had me cancel their penpal program altogether.
Then these three things happened:
- A kid had a breakthrough. Later that day, in that same class, one of my students who is Autistic volunteered to write an answer on the board. The student, who’s nickname is First, will normally not speak to me, raise his hand ever and barely acknowledges that he understands what I am saying. But he gets his work done, quietly, takes his tests and quizzes, and usually does okay. And I pray he is comprehending. When he raised his hand to write an answer on the board I had to do a double take. When he actually wrote the correct answer and smiled back at me when I said it was correct I almost fainted. I have never been so happy in that class before. He made up for all of the other chatty-kathy idiots I wanted to kill today. He made coming to school worth it.
- A random act of postal kindness. Today I went to the post office to send a bunch of postcards from Chiang Mai (blog on my trip to Chiang Mai to come soon). The man who worked there was very impressed with my selection. “Very beautiful, Chiang Mia, Wat Dio Suthep, Wat this, Wat that, very beautiful”. He then started trying to point me to another desk when it was time for me to pay for my scanned postage for each card. I was a little confused, especially when he kept saying “beautiful” and now pointing to the other counter. After a bit of back and forth I realized he wanted me to buy the scenic stamps from the other counter, instead of having him just electronically add the ugly scanned postage onto my postcards because he thought they were too nice. So I was able to buy a dozen stamps with pretty pictures of scenic places in Thailand to make my postcards even that more beautiful. He even gave me his stamp blotter and helped me put them on. Our wordless conversation and his desire to help make my postcards even that more “beautiful” left me grinning ear to ear when I left the post office. How often does that ever happen? To anyone, anywhere. I usually leave USPS in America wanting to go postal…
- Parent/teacher treats. Free food will obviously make me happy always. What was even more amazing about this free snack was it came from an unsuspecting students and parent. As I was leaving school today, another one of my students, Feb, who also happens to be Autistic, came running after me “Teacha, Teacha, my mother has something for you!” And pointing and dragging me in the opposite direction of where I needed to go to tutor. After weaving through the kids and finding his mother who always says hi to me, she handed me a bag with what appeared to be an Auntie Annies (yes we have those crack cocaine pretzels here too). “For you Teacha, Feb really like you.” I was shocked. Feb, who is extremely high functioning, really good at English but unfortunately lacks social cues and understanding, has never really given me the “I like you Teacha, vibe”. But I also think that is really because his Autism and weaknesses lie in his inability to relate to people and his classmates. He often really surprises me on all of his tests and quizzes with how well he grasps what I am teaching and how good he is at English, yet he still gets scolded for speaking out of turn and hitting kids because he can’t seem to connect or communicate effectively to his classmates. His mother then asked about their quiz the next day and when I showed her the material in his notes she replied “Teacha, very difficult” and I am pretty sure wanted to take back the snack she gave me. Which was not your typical Auntie Annies by the way, it was like these pretzel bursts with little hot dogs coming out of them and some seasoning. Very interesting. I digress. I assured her he was very smart and would do fine and thanked her for her thoughtful gift.
Anyway, those three little things made it a great day to work in Thailand. Top that off with an evening FaceTime session with my lovely mom I miss so much and seeing my home all decorated for Christmas and this day goes into the books as a win.
Hope everyone in America who is starting their day has a good one! Good night and good luck,