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.

Catching Up
June 15, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Teaching | Tags: , , , , ,

Yeah another several months pass without any new content, lost once again in the hypnotic patterns of life.  Not to worry, there is much to write about and many new and pretty photos to post.  Since my last post, we’ve celebrated Thai New Year’s (the festival of water, or “Songkran”), taken another trip down south to the islands of the Andaman Sea, explored the nearby border towns close to Burma, and had a much needed visit to the States to see friends and family.  Now back in Thailand for another semester with our school, we’ve settled into our usual rhythms for better or for worse.

Songkran was a weeklong festival in April, the hottest time of the year.  It was basically a giant water fight in the streets day after day, culminating in an all-out war on Saturday.  Honestly I can’t express nor show through photos how fun and crazy it was.  Obviously I couldn’t bring my camera with me anywhere for the whole week, didn’t want it to get soaked.  The whole week was a government holiday, so starting around 10am until after dark streets were lined on both sides with water cannons and buckets.  You couldn’t go anywhere during those hours without wrapping your stuff in plastic.  The festival celebrates the coming New Year by washing away the old bad karma, starting fresh and clean as it were.  In addition to the water, powdery clay is mixed into a paste and smeared across each other’s faces, some sort of Buddhist significance that escapes me at the moment.  Sometimes Jennifer and I would man a bucket or hose, sometimes we were the ones driving our motorbike through the gauntlet, but for the last three days of the festival we were out in the thick of it until long after dark.  Honestly it was the best way to cool off, the temperatures were nearly 109F and our house is a clay oven during the day.

Our school also celebrated with a more traditional ceremony, where the elders and teachers are shown respect by the younger students and parents.  Everyone lines up and pours jasmine scented water over your hands in a ritual cleansing for the New Year like I described earlier.  I forgot to mention, during this week everyone dons the Songkran attire, Hawaiian shirts! (Well obviously just floral print shirts, but funny still).  It was cute to see all the students and teachers wearing ridiculously tacky floral shirts and flower necklaces.  Pretty much the only pictures I have of the whole holiday are of the school festival, and even then I had to hide the camera when the water balloons and buckets came out.  Not a photogenic festival for that reason.

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 🙂