Sunday, February 17, 2013

English is fun

I have no idea how to summarize what I’m doing or what’s happened the past few weeks…..we’ve been so busy and scheduled that it’s easy to sometimes wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, but I’m starting to get more days of realizing why I signed up for this in the first place.  This week we had our first experience teaching English.  I was able to go to the Nonformal Education Center in the village where we have classes all week to teach English with another volunteer for 2 days.  Our students ranged in age from 16 – 40 and we spent an hour a day with them, teaching them basic English greetings and a few other things.  I’m not a teacher and have never taught English to anyone, but I truly enjoyed it.  It’s interesting to be on both ends of the learning/teaching spectrum in the last couple weeks, and it makes me appreciate how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time and how eager these kids are to learn English.  Two other volunteers that are in my language class have been teaching a group of 10-11 year olds at a nearby school, and I also got to practice English with them.  They’re so eager to learn and so patient with me when I speak Thai to them.  I love speaking Thai to kids here and I love it when they get so excited about what I say.  I’ve never seen kids get so excited when I tell them what Thai food I like to eat (although I think I’m more excited than they are).  Every once in a while some of them will just bust out a sentence in English and it’s awesome. 

 I’m slowly becoming more confident in my Thai speaking abilities and am able to converse more with my host family.  One of the best nights I’ve had with them so far was when I gave them a picture calendar of my family and friends (a gift I made for them) and we talked about my life in America and the people and things in my pictures.  They asked about my family in America and I told them as much as I could in Thai (by the way Ashley, they have a really, really hard time saying your name – but they said you’re beautiful every time they saw you in a picture).  My host family also likes to see how many mosquito bites I get every day (my host mom has given me several home remedies to stop the itching).  I explained to them one night that the mosquitoes here like to eat me for dinner, and they could not stop laughing at me (they never really do, but most of the time they just laugh at me for no reason).  Language has been one of the toughest things to adjust to, and sometimes I still find myself in conversations where I have absolutely no idea what’s going on….but when I do know what’s going on and am able to respond, it’s awesome.

It’s still hot, and I’m a little apprehensive about the upcoming ‘hot season’, but I think I’m acclimating to the change.  I thought it was cool the other day…when I looked at the temperature it was 86 degrees.  It gets cool enough at night that I can still sleep comfortably with a fan and a blanket, which is awesome. 

We find out our permanent sites next week – so exciting!  I’m anxious to find out where I’ll be living for the next two years.  Also, I ate chicken blood a couple weeks ago.  It looked like dark red tofu, and kind of tasted the same.  I haven’t eaten any bugs yet (at least not intentionally – I’ve caught several unintentional ones in my mouth on late bike rides).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fun facts from Thailand

  • I’m currently living with only half of the things I brought with me.  They told us to only bring one bag to our host family’s house, so half of my stuff is still sitting in a bag that I won’t see again until the end of March.
  • Sometimes the sun, moon, sunrises and sunsets look so awesome that they look fake…or like they belong in a movie
  • My host mom gave me an info booklet and audio CD about meditation.  My whole family asks me every day now if I’ve meditated (I’m so exhausted at the end of every day that I haven’t tried it yet….maybe eventually)
  • The tv in my house is always on, and it’s always on the same channel, which I’ve discovered is basically a meditation (or Buddhist) channel
  • The letter R is pronounced as an L a lot here, which has made language acquisition all the more difficult, and I often think I’m hearing new words when I’m actually hearing words I already know
  • Sometimes I think in Spanish when learning Thai.  I haven’t used much Spanish since high school, but maybe it’s because that’s the only other language I’ve really been introduced to before…..but it’s funny….and confusing
  • I’ve eaten a lot of ‘kanomes’ (treats/desserts) since I’ve been here, but they’re not always what they look like….when we were staying at a hotel the first week we’d have coffee and treats every afternoon, and one day we were having what I thought was a small cake (similar to a few we’d had already)….I bit into it to find tuna and corn inside…
  • I don’t talk to my host grandma much (she’s often not around), but one day we were eating fruit together and she took out both her top and bottom dentures, showed them to me, and laughed.  I wish I understood more of what she says to me, because I guarantee it’s funny
  • Having a conversation about what I did, what I ate or where I went in a day has never been so satisfying as it is when I can speak and understand Thai with my host mom
  • Stray dogs are everywhere and sometimes chase us on our bikes. I wish I could adopt them all and take them to site with me.
  • I haven’t worn makeup or used a hair dryer in over 2 weeks (I used both just about every day in America)
  • I used to think the tan lines I got playing softball all summer were bad…they’re nothing compared to the ones I’m starting to get now
  • I eat rice usually 3 times a day…I thought I might get sick of it quickly, but I love it
  • 7/11 here has all sorts of strange ‘treats’….the aisle that has a bunch of stuff that resembles Little Debbie snack cakes includes cakes with fillings like beans, tuna, corn, and other things I’m not sure of yet
  • A snickers bar at 7/11 costs more than a lot of the fruit in the market (Yes mom, I bought a snickers bar….I still love chocolate in Thailand, and it was delicious….but I eat much, much more fruit)
  • A can of beer costs as much as an entire meal
  • Sugar is used on a lot of things here….often in the form of sweetened condensed milk, and it’s awesome
  • I wash all my clothes by hand, in buckets.  My host family has a washing machine, but Peace Corps told them not to let me use it because I need to get used to living conditions similar to what my permanent site will be (the fact that I change clothes at least twice a day doesn’t help the laundry situation)
  • Everyone rides motorbikes here and almost no one wears a helmet.  It’s also common to see 3-5 people (usually a few kids included) riding one at the same time
  • We’ve eaten fish a lot at my house, and most of the time it’s served whole….tail, head, bones and all on the plate.  I was a little apprehensive at first, but I love it
  • I’m getting used to greeting everyone I see, being stared at, being laughed at, and not understanding what people are saying to me
  • I rode my bike at night for the first time last week....I’ve never ingested so many bugs at one time (imagine riding a bike in the rain, except instead of rain, it’s bugs)
  • Everything I heard about Thai people before I came is proving to be true….they’re so welcoming, gracious, generous, and happy (and I can’t even understand what they’re saying most of the time)

Here's a link to some pictures...also posted on Facebook!