Articles

Me, Myself, and Thai

Once a month we like to share a story we find really interesting from a volunteer’s blog. This month we share one from Thai TimeAlexis Baker, 130 YinD

Back in college it was all about Me, Myself, and I. What classes was I going to take, what I was going to get from Panera that night, what was I going to do after graduation and 100’s of other decisions I made on a daily basis. Now that I live in Thailand, most of the decisions I make are not about me but about my community and my attempts to further integrate into it. Peace Corps tells its volunteers to say yes to everything to show your community that you are committed and want to learn about them and their culture. That is why it is no longer Me, Myself, and I because integration focuses less on the I and more on the people around you who are now your new friends, family, and co-workers turning the phrase to Me, Myself, and Thai. Thus far in my service, my biggest integration technique has been going to and participating in every performance, parade, sports competition and dance my site has to offer.

*The cover photo of this article is from the King’s Birthday. For the whole month of July all government workers, which includes teachers, were required to wear yellow in honor of the king. On his birthday there was a small ceremony where they played the King’s anthem and then everyone wrote their well wishes to him in a book.*

Sports Day is one of the biggest events at my secondary school. The kids had been preparing all week for this event. All classes had been canceled as they made the signs and costumes for the big day. Over 1,200 people were in the parade and the all the surrounding elementary schools gave their students the morning off so they could go and watch. I was not warned that the Sports Day parade would require me to be in the 96 degree heat for three hours; students actually started fainting. It did happen to be one of the coolest high school events I have ever been too. The costumes were incredibly detailed and very ornate. There was even a cannon that shot-off colorful powder and rained down Thai flags. The event included three marching bands, synchronized dances, and a lot of speeches, in Thai, Chinese, and a little English.

The dragons pictured above had two kids in each dragon, meaning one poor kid had to walk slouched over the whole time.

img_0356.jpgI looked like I was under-dressed for the occasion but in the end I was thankful because my outfit wasn’t as hot as some of the others.

Me, Myself, and Thai means spending hours everyday after school running, playing volleyball, and batone with my students. Playing these sports with my kids is my favorite part of my day and I love seeing how excited my elementary students get when I tell them I’ll stay and play with them.

Fun Fact: the word “Selfie” is one of the most popular English words in Thailand so as soon as anyone, student or adult, sees your phone they will immediately ask “Selfie, Selfie”?

Thai people love celebrations, ceremonies, and dances of all sort. In this school term I have seen so many performances that I’ve honestly forget how many I attended until I looked through my photos. There are performances to celebrate Thai Language Day, Say No to Drugs Day, Fashion Shows, and many performances with religious significance. I can’t keep up with the language in the performances but I am always down to watch as they are well done and the costumes are incredible.

There was a nation wide “Say No To Drugs Day”. This is not what you are used to in America where a DARE officer would come to the school and show you scarring before and after pictures of people who used Meth. The worse was when in high school when we had to watch very graphic commercials about how your life gets ruined when you use drugs. Thailand does drug education programs differently than America. They had a 2 hour play; I can’t tell you what this play was about because I didn’t understand it at all, but there was dancing, mermaids, and an evil wizard and somehow this had to do with drugs. After the play there was a parade where the students march around the school with anti-drug signs.

Never seen one of the very graphic Meth commercials from the U.S? Take a look: http://www.methproject.org/ads/tv/tracy.html

I constantly joke with my host mom that I am no longer a foreigner as I am now a kon Thai (Thai person). I can now stomach more spicy food, understand a little bit more of what is happening around me, and occasionally understand a joke in Thai. Though I don’t think I will ever stop integrating during my time here so far my efforts in IRB(intentional relationship building) and trying to understand the Thai way of life have been enjoyable and humorous.


 

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