M.A. Van Wey Travel & Photo

Parading around town
September 3, 2010, 5:48 am
Filed under: Teaching, Travel Abroad | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last week our school, for some inexplicable reason, decided to have a parade through town. It was sports day at our school, which meant a day full of games and fireworks, and apparently parading. More than likely the parade was a sort of PR/advertising campaign for the school, touting our first class educational credentials in front of the town of Kanchanaburi by twirling batons, wailing on xylophones, and dressing up our kindergartners like drag queens. It was incredibly fun in a bizarre sort of way, and of course I took as many photos as I could to capture the shenanigans. After the parade we converged back at our school and finished the day with T-Pop dance offs (That’s the local bastard variation of K-Pop, which the Thai’s are head-over-heals in love with).

Trust me, this parade would not have gone well anywhere else but Thailand, and in certain parts of the States I could imagine the Westboro Baptist Church picketing it. It’s odd seeing your students dressed like little over-sexed pop stars, let alone witnessing a male student following his lady-boy dreams by wearing stiletto heels and a miniskirt and bra made of newspaper…and nothing else. Enjoy the photos.



20 reasons I smile every day
August 17, 2010, 4:22 am
Filed under: Teaching, Travel Abroad | Tags: , , , , , ,

Teaching here can be incredibly frustrating, but every day I get to look at these mugs and I can’t help but smile my way through it all.

Summer School Shenanigans
April 8, 2010, 6:56 am
Filed under: Teaching | Tags: , , ,

Jennifer and I are currently in the midst of teaching a month-long summer session at school.  Jennifer’s teaching social studies to grades 1, 2, and 3, and violin to grades 4, 5, and 6.  I’m teaching grades 4 through 8 science.  I’m not a big fan of these older grades.  Grade 4 is alright, I had most of them as 3’rd graders last semester, and grade 5 is new to me but cooperative.  Teaching grades 6, 7, and 8 is much more challenging.  Older kids have attitude, are snarky and generally much more difficult to engage for me.  Last semester I was teaching grades 1-3 which consisted mostly of playing games and coloring pictures, a more difficult proposition for the older kids.

It’s all a learning process I guess.  Little by little I’m figuring out how to hold their attention.  This past week I decided to throw out the normal curriculum (which was a joke anyways), and took all my classes on nature walks around campus.  Despite the 106 degree heat they all seemed to be much more attentive than in the classroom.  I had each student find 10 animals and write about them, filling out a little data sheet as they found them.  Mostly they came up with ants, pigeons, geckos, dogs, and tadpoles.  In every single class I had at least one student yell “buffalo!”, pointing at another student.  Calling someone a buffalo in Thailand is basically calling them fat, stupid, and lazy.  A few called me monkey, so I obliged and made some monkey noises.

Hopefully soon I’ll bring a camera to school to capture some of the shenanigans.  Until then just use your imagination…Teacher Matt struggling valiantly in 106 degree heat to herd a group of crazy Thai kids around school looking for animals 🙂

An Inappropriate Catholic School Party
January 31, 2010, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Travel Abroad | Tags: , , , ,

Our school’s Christmas party turned out to be a fascinating glimpse into Thai culture.  I didn’t have high expectations to be honest…the idea of eating dinner on our assembly grounds with all the administration and faculty sounded a little dry.  How wrong I was.  First I found myself recruited into a dance routine featuring some of the foreign teachers in the school.  This included wearing a massive flower necklace and wearing Hawaiian themed clothing, all of which enhanced (I hope) our poorly choreographed dance number in front of everyone.  I barely knew anyone at the school at this point and embarrassing myself seemed like a great way to break the ice.  Following our act were a number of dances involving cross-dressing, pelvic-thrusting teachers.  The theme of sexuality and general silliness was constant through the night.  Eventually it was karaoke…one Thai-pop song after another and dancing was unavoidable.  By the end of the night I had danced with my boss, her assistant, and a number of other people I didn’t even know.

After the dancing came the raffle.  Thai parties always seem to involve giving away prizes, and big ones at that.  They were giving away TV’s, rocking chairs, microwaves, pillows, even cans of corn.  I ended up winning a pillow and a crock pot, a pretty good haul I think.  The party was a blast, not dry or boring or like anything I could have predicted.  Bizarre might be a good word to describe it.  Bizarre to see the father/priest of the school transformed into a game show host throwing prizes into the crowd.  Bizarre to see the normally very quiet Thai teachers dressed as the opposite sex, shimmying around the stage like an over-sexed pop band.  Life at school is as you would expect: you work, teach students, keep your head above the bureaucracy, and respect the hierarchy within the school.  Off the clock it’s an entirely different world…