Jeannetta Mouncey, USA
Celebrating Christmas With my Host School: Thailand is a Buddhist country, but the teachers and students love to use Christmas as a way to learn about foreign culture, and to learn English!
Today it is Christmas in the USA but our school Christmas celebration has been postponed to Friday, Dec. 28. What is in a date????? Here plans are always changing, and I am going with the flow of life. Here they say: ‘MAI PBEN RAI’ or No Problem! It will also be the last day of the school year, and my last day as a volunteer teacher. It is going to be a big celebration......and never in my life have I felt the Christmas spirit so strongly........or maybe as a child after WWII when there was hardly anything available. At that time a decorated Christmas tree was a wonderment and Christmas was so simple.....just as it was in the stable with the manger. The students are building the Christmas tree, and the students and I have made dolls from clothes pins, tinsel from shiny paper, snowflakes from white computer paper, dream catchers from sticks and left over yarn I brought along, and a few decorations I brought along from the USA ...just in case.
I feel so much love for the people here that my eyes are tearing while writing this email. I feel the love from them as well........I am the only foreigner in their life. I feel so much appreciation, admiration, love here.......in the midst of the manger.
The students are very talented. There will be a Christmas card contest.....they have created unbelievably beautiful cards......also there will be a spelling bee on the words that I taught them in class. Some names will be drawn for the lucky winner of some wrapped gifts under the tree. Then I will tell my story about our tradition of Christmas in the USA. Next, I will ask some questions about the story, and the student who knows the answer will win a gift. There will be caroling, the story of Jesus’ birth etc. etc. I am as excited as a little child waiting for Christmas to come. Yes, I feel the spirit of Christmas here!!!!!! Ms. Supanee, the English teacher with whom I am staying, organized this celebration and tells me that I came at the right time to help her. She has been wanting to do this for the past two years!!!
Part of school life is also open windows and doors at all times, birds flying in and out of the classroom, taking your shoes off when entering the classroom (or any home), students sitting on the floor in some classrooms, squatting to go to the toilet and flushing with a scoop of water out of a bucket. However, what do we really need to live and to learn? Not much! I live like a Thai and became well adjusted after the initial days of learning the customs.
On December 28 I will take a bus back to Bangkok and stay there for a week to see the sites. The capital city is so different from village life......I go to bed early and rise early in the natural rhythm of the day.........I have a natural alarm clock: roosters crowing and the local village news comes on through a loudspeaker for everyone to hear. Life is simple here and there is time for being.......aren't we human beings in the first place?
Happy New Year!