Marcus MtCastle, 128 TCCS
I open my eyes and immediately get out of bed, something that happens very rarely. When it does, it usually means one thing; today is going to be great. I walk outside and smell the fresh rain in the garden in my front yard. I hear the dogs barking in the distance. I go to my kitchen to make some coffee. I sit at my table on the porch and drink my coffee, taking in the beauty in front of me.
I haven’t seen my counterpart in a few days because she has been traveling. When I get in the car, I ask her about her trip. She tells me everything, every last detail. It makes me smile because I love this about her. She loves speaking English. She loves learning things she didn’t know before. She loves working through language barriers. When she gets stuck on a word, she refuses to let me guess until she has described the word she’s looking for, without using Thai. It always just reminds me that this is the best thing she can teach our students. Not the grammar or vocabulary, but the confidence and resiliency. After she finishes her story, I tell her all of this.
Nothing is special today at school. I start my day with Mattayom 1. They’re little punks, as usual. Funny punks, but punks nonetheless. Prattom 5 is difficult, but we push through our verbs lesson. Then Prattom 4 walks in the door. They run in the door with smiles plastered on their face. I’m bombarded with hugs and high-fives. I look over to the jars that track each class’ behavior and notice their jar is full. Today is a free day. We’re going to watch a movie and do nothing for the next hour. I feel like I’m more excited than they are.
I turn on Moana and sit on the floor with my students. The second my body hits the ground, I have four little heads laying on my legs. I laugh to myself and we watch the movie. At some point, I look at Shampoo. She’s intent on this movie. As Moana is killing it with her girl power, Shampoo is just enthralled by it all. Her eyes haven’t moved from the screen and her smile hasn’t faded. It causes an indescribable feeling.
After lunch, I go get some coffee across the street. Waking up like a normal person has me feeling a little sluggish towards the afternoon. On the way back, I look at my surroundings. I feel so grateful today. I see the sports field to my left and the school to my right, with little pockets of students spread all throughout the area. I’m privileged to be part of this community.
I come back upstairs and begin preparing for Mattayom 3. I sit in my empty classroom and think about how my life has changed since I first came to live here. As the students work in partners and I prepare for our next activity, I’m interrupted often to answer questions and help students read more difficult words. Tim keeps turning around in his desk for validation that he’s doing the assignment well. These are things that never would have happened on my first day of school. My students were terrified of speaking to me in English or Thai. They are now coming to me for help in both languages and presenting dialogues in front of their peers. I’m constantly proud of this class. Their graduation day will be the hardest day of my life.
Today I realized this is the home I’ve lived in the longest since I left my parents’ house. It’s seen my best and my worst and everything in between. I will one day leave this place. That day is fast approaching and nothing I do will slow it down. The thought of it makes me feel both relief and heartache. This is my home. I can’t speak for yesterday or tomorrow, but at this moment, on this day, this is where I’m supposed to be. And I can’t even begin to tell you how good that feels.
For more from Marcus, check out his blog, Don’t You Read This.