Since I’ve been here nearly a month – effectively reaching my halfway point – I think that I can officially say that I’ve settled into my own routine of sorts, at least enough to write this post.
One thing I’ve learned is that Thai people start their days early. Very early. Gone are the days of struggling to wake up for my 10:05am classes as I’m now waking up around 7am (sometimes 6am) each day. The starter pack for the day includes the following: black clothing out of mourning for the beloved King of Thailand (who passed away last fall), hair ties for avoiding potential lice, bug spray, hand sanitizer, and a small snack for breakfast (to the bewilderment of other Thai people who eat big breakfasts). As for getting to work with no car on hand, not to worry there’s an abundant amount of public transportation choices. If I’m going to the government homes, I could either ride the CCD van (waking up even earlier for this though), take a song taew (picture a fancy truck with two long rows in its trunk for sitting), take a taxi (slightly pricey), or get a motorcycle taxi (can zip you through traffic like no other, but quite dangerous).
My job is the privilege of teaching English combined with art therapy (see The Artists for more information) at Rainbow House (disabled children), New Hope (normally developing children), and the government homes (older disabled children). The kids can cultivate their appetite by naming fruits, stimulate their senses by learning colors, or journey through forests shouting out animal names. Regarding these lessons, I’ve discovered that it’s not so much about making little English geniuses or “curing” disability than it is about looking past the front row to kids who maybe can’t speak up, move to the front of the room, or who maybe are just shy. To be inclusive and keep every kid engaged regardless of the range of severity in their disability, I think that’s what will serve the purpose behind Rainbow House – named aptly for the fact that CCD believes in giving love to every ethnicity, nationality, gender, disability, and color under the rainbow.
Are you hungry yet? It’s lunchtime!! Here’s some more food for thought (hehe). The rainbow continues in the varied eating habits among the kids. Some kids can eat on their own nicely, while other kids require a lot more attention. Yet, there is a balance to be found in knowing when to help and when to challenge, with the goal being to teach a kid how to eat on their own. As for my own lunch, I’ve discovered that there’s a certain amount of privilege that comes with being a picky eater. Given the choice of being hungry or eating what’s there, I’ve broadened my food repertoire and even found several dishes that are becoming my new favorites!
Thai Food: A Photo Series
Afternoons are similar to the mornings, and I get off work at around 3:30pm nearly every day. At this time I used to wander around aimlessly, twiddling my thumbs if you will, but lately there’s all kinds of things to keep me busy. There’s after hours activities with Rainbow Church, in which I get to become more involved with the surrounding community. There’s badminton with some of the staff, an activity that I stumbled upon in my “casual walking around” adventures. Finally, there’s always a home base with the kids at Rainbow House – playing games, having random conversations (by conversation I mean me rambling on since the residents can’t or don’t speak much, but it’s oddly comforting in a way), and watching TV. I’m certainly still exploring the city and finding things to do, but all in all, I’m quite satisfied with the peaceful endings to my days.
Not only is the Roadshow something completely different altogether, but this past week was also our last one. Thus, I figured it deserves its own section. Though it only happens once a week, the Rainbow Roadshow brings about a fresh air of excitement and a bit of craziness every Thursday. It quite literally starts and ends with our handy pickup truck. In the morning the equipment is loaded, filling our truck to the brim with a guitar, drum kit, speaker, maracas, tamborines, flags, anything you could possibly want for a music session. The pickup truck then takes us to our various destinations – we eventually manage to go all over the place and hit every CCD site with a music session. On Thursday, we more or less do the same show 4 times – a cycle of unloading all our equipment, dancing, singing, giving a short talk, reloading the equipment, driving to our next site, and so on.
For me, energy, not talent is the secret ingredient of any Roadshow, especially since the rest of the team is very musically talented. Without this enthusiasm, well, you simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with the crazy whirlwind of flag waving, shouting, dancing, and running that encompasses a Roadshow. That being said, it can definitely be a challenge sometimes (I mean, think of the Thailand heat and the exacerbated sweat that comes from dancing in it). To keep my energy up even though it may not be mirrored by all the kids (again, there’s a spectrum), I have to trust that it’s due to disability and not disinterest. I look to their frequent smiles and the more active kids to give me some evidence for this faith. They run out excitedly when they see us coming so that they can help us carry equipment, and they ask us as we leave whether we will be back the following week. Combining their eagerness with the smiles mentioned earlier, I’m honored to play to this audience.
If you don’t end the Roadshow feeling absolutely knackered (dead tired), then you’re probably doing it wrong. Since I have long believed that I am tone-deaf, rhythm deficient, and have zero dance moves, I’ve definitely jumped headfirst into unknown territory and come out awestruck at what a little bit of faith and energy can do. No I’m not closer to being able to play any instrument well or sing any better, but I can officially say that I’m on a music team (or perhaps I’d dare to call it a band)?
Tips and tidbits:
- Aa a regular customer of 7-11, I have upgraded to getting their package deal of 5 sausage and cheese sandwiches for only 100 baht ($3)!!!
- There’s a lovely lady with a drink cart (selling my treasured chocolate milkshake) that stops by CCD around lunchtime, but you have to be fast and catch her before she goes off
- I think I’m building a tolerance to cooling powder – I need to progressively put on more to feel an effect
- Running record of number of rearview mirrors you can have on a car: > 15
- If you find a bug trying to crawl in your ear at night the current solution is to get rid of the bug and then sleep with cotton balls in your ears (if you have other solutions please let me know)
Running list of British vocabulary
Knackered: also used for broken or destroyed things
Washing up: doing the dishes
Jim jams: pajamas
Thank you for making it to the end of my ramblings – please see Reflections – Day(s) in the Life (coming soon) for further reflection on everything that’s happened here so far (since I simply couldn’t fit it here). Also if you want more up to date postings and pictures instead of my terribly late blog posts check out CCD Thailand!