So I got to participate in a Monk induction ceremony. I have a strong feeling this is something that not many white people have gotten to do so I was really honoured. How many people in their lives can say they have seen newly inducted monks and been in the ceremony? But let me back up a little bit first. Noong invited me to go to Temple with her so I of course accepted because I did not want to be rude. Over here since Buddhism is the dominate religion over here going to Temple is more of a personal laid back kind of thing. There is no preacher or sermon or congregation really. You just show up at Temple, light some incense and pray to Buddha or speak to a monk if you wish. Buddha is not really worshiped as a true God per se but more of a figure head.
Anyway, I threw on the clothes that I had closest to me since it was early in the morning (they happened to be board shorts/bathing suit,a shirt and some sandals) pretty casual but Noong didn't say anything otherwise and I have worn this stuff before obviously. Well we get there and there is people everywhere! I of course was the only falang (foreigner) and everyone there was dressed in their Sunday best barring me. I felt really awkward and of place haha. There was tons of food everywhere! People were eating and drinking and laughing and they even had a band. Well it turns out Noong had taken me to a monk induction ceremony!
Now it was bad enough that I was feeling so out of place but everyone there was super nice and they stuffed me full of food until I was about to explode! Some of it was so spicy!! Well then it got interesting lol. They wanted me to actually participate in the ceremony! See there was two guys there and they were going to be monks so they had to give up all their earthly possessions and shave their heads and take vows. I had my picture taken with the monks and then I got to join all the people in dancing,chanting and moving around in a circle (around the Temple three times) after we did that the monks went up and said what I assume was their monkly (is that a word? lol) vows and then came the fun part. They threw their money at us! See they had to give away all their stuff including money so they threw it into the crowd! It was quite a mad house but I managed to come away with some baht. I am going to give it to the kids at school.
So while I did feel out of place and awkward at first, it was really a good experience I won't forget and something I am quite sure not many foreigners get to experience.
I went to Bangkok over the weekend to visit friends and had a good time there. Nothing super special to report but I had a good time with my friends and saw a new action movie with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds called Safe House. It was about a CIA safe house and some bad guys trying to kill a good guy. It was good not great. I also met a girl who owns her own Italian Gelato Ice cream factory and I got to have FRESH ice cream right off the line! Yall know how much I love ice cream haha. As usual I have had some great food with Noong both Thai and Western food and I got to eat at my favourite restaurant in Bangkok so all in all a pretty good weekend. I met a diaper salesman from Michigan on the train back from Bangkok. He was real nice guy and I had no idea that people actually still did that anymore. I guess Walmart and the big guys don't sell ALL the diapers.
I am closing out the last days of the school semester here (March 15th) it has been a great learning experience for me to get this practical teaching experience. I have been teaching three different groups of kids ranging from age six to age twelve. I have come to the conclusion that the older kids are my favourite while the younger ones are much harder for me to handle (a sneak peek at parent hood I guess!) But overall it has been really good and while they didn't give me any training or materials at my school I have had a crash course in on the job training and teaching skills better than any course or training could have ever taught me. It was really good that I took that online TEFL class but it didn't prepare me practically speaking, at all. I love the freedom I have over here to teach however I like with no set rules of what I must and must not do. The other day I walked into class and some of my twelve year olds were laying on the ground all flat. I said "What are you guys doing?" they said, "Teacher Tyler we are planking!" I had to laugh at that.
For those of you who don't know, planking is an idiotic craze that started in Australia if memory serves and you basically lay out flat anywhere you like and take a picture of it. You have to lay completely flat and still. People have actually died from doing it on building ledges etc. Personally I find it moronic but I had to laugh at my Thai kids doing it. It seems the craze has even made it to Asia. You know I have done some things that the kids have really loved this year, some games and lessons that have really gone over great. But, I have also done some stuff that really bombed. It sure has been good learning what works and what doesn't though. I will miss my kids and I am hoping that I have helped them at least a little bit. Over the course of this semester I have seen big improvement though. I want to leave you with a video of a song I found and really like a lot. The video link is at the bottom of this post. -Tyler
P.S. One last little tidbit about movies. Over here there is one English language movie channel on tv that plays movies every night at 8pm. Tonight's feature was The Graduate I am sure most of you have heard of it. Dustin Hoffman's first big movie, Ms. Robinson anyone? anyway... It is a great movie but I find the whole premise laughable. The guy sleeps with Ms. Robinson and then some how convinces her own daughter to forget all that and run away with him? Come on! lol.