I have successfully completed my first week as an English teacher! Here are some of the things I learned…
1. Being a white English teacher in Thailand feels a lot like being Kate Middleton.
People are always bowing in your presence and telling you how beautiful you are. In their eyes, you are the epitome of intelligence, elegance and civility.
2. Thai teenagers mature much slower than Americans.
They are often very shy, look and act much younger than I expected, and even at 17, boyfriends and girlfriends are still something to giggle about.
3. Teachers have a reputation to uphold, even outside the classroom.
Everyone in Thailand knows about Bunyawat Witthayalai School. Plus, it’s not hard to notice the four “farang” when there aren’t many other Westerners around. It is important to always be polite and courteous public, since you never know exactly who is watching you.
4. Everyone thinks “American food” is KFC and McDonalds.
…as well as hamburgers, pizza and steak. To be fair, though, “Thai food” is much different than in the States too. More details on that in my next blog post…
5. When something goes wrong, take a deep breath and say “mai pen rai.”
“Mai pen rai” is more than an expression, it’s a way of life here in Thailand. Saving face is very important in Thai culture, which means you should never show that you’re upset, even when no one tells you your classroom has changed or that you have to get up in front of 5,000 students this morning and make a speech.
6. Even with no teaching experience, Thai teachers look to us as an example, simply because we’re native English-speakers.
We are desperate for some kind of feedback or for someone to tell us if we’re doing this right, but instead, the Thai teachers are asking us for input on their lessons! Many times, while observing our classes, our supervisors will even join the chorus of students in practicing the pronunciation of vocabulary words.
7. Thai people will do everything they can to make foreigners feel welcome.
The school is so grateful to have native-speakers, so they want to make sure we have a good experience here, in hopes that we might stay or at least tell our friends in America how wonderful it is. Locals here also have a lot of pride for their city and are eager to show us all the reasons why Lampang is so special.