I don't know how many of you are familiar with "hashing" (not ever to be confused or associated with "hashtagging"), but it's a worldwide running phenomenon with almost 2,000 chapters all over the world. Hashing was started in 1938 in what is now Malaysia by a group of British colonial officers and expatriates who began meeting weekly to run together. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia,
The objectives of the 'Hash House Harriers' as recorded on the club registration card dated
- To promote physical fitness among our members
- To get rid of weekend hangovers
- To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
- To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
Meanwhile, I've also completed my first week of teaching, which feels a bit like hashing metaphorically, I'm not going to lie. Walking in half-way through the school year with little indication as to where my kids are in their curriculum meant a lot of improvised lessons. However, no one vomited, was set on fire, set anything else on fire, or died, so I think it was a success. My MEP students (the ones in the accelerated English program) are extremely bright, attentive, sweet, and eager to learn, so I'm very excited and lucky to be working with them. My general 3rd and 6th grade classes are a bit more unruly and definitely aren't at a high English proficiency, but they're ultimately good kids and I think we'll have fun. My general second grade classes though....God, I am going to have to learn some patience. I'm not sure how to explain the differences in discipline between most Western schools and Thailand schools...let's just say that if kids start fighting in the back of the class here, unless there's blood, you're supposed to ignore it and keep teaching. It doesn't help when you're teaching 7-year-olds who hardly know any English, so have no reason to listen to you unless you're rapping them on the hand with a ruler (which is what Thai teachers typically do, but foreign teachers aren't allowed to do). So you teach to the kids who listen, and god help the rest, because the Thai government dictates that children are not allowed to fail in school. Meaning, I as a teacher am not allowed to give a student a failing grade, even if they haven't turned in a single piece of work in a semester. So I smile when they shower me in pink glitter and give lots of high fives and fist bumps, and we typically manage to get through the lesson and complete a worksheet.
One of the more privately comical moments of teaching came during my introductory lesson, where I taught my students a bit about me and where I come from. This involved teaching them the vocabulary word "America." Let me tell you, having a class of 45 Thai kids yelling out "AMERICA!!" while punching their fists in the air is quite the sight when you're pretty sure your own American 4th grade class couldn't have reached half the decibel level. I felt both ashamed and extremely amused. And very white. No regrets.
Another interesting fact: kids in Thailand are given very interesting nicknames--usually in English--which you learn much easier than their given Thai names. Some of my favorites from my classes include Hero, Best, Bright, Smart (a kid who is everything but), Google, Fluke, Ozone, Donut, Oak, Book, Nut, Boss, Dream, Cartoon, and Bonus. It makes you wonder how many of them know their significance, or when they'll find out...
I don't really have any new pictures yet, but here's one of where the Hash was on Saturday! Yup, I do not lie when I say "jungle."
Alright, well, I've got to go teach my next lesson...TTFN!