It feels only like yesterday(raspy old man voice)…I got off the plane a scared but intrigued newbie to Thailand. All I remember was how excited I was to finally be in a new country and how cool it’d be to learn about a new culture & language.
Time to go..
When I finally made the decision to go and bought my tickets to Thailand I can admit I was scared. Although I was very lucky to have a Thai friend to help my transitioning into Thailand a smooth operation. He gave me a quit crash course on Thai language contacts to all of his English speaking friends here.
My ticket into Thailand was teaching English as a second language. I took a job offer after a short Skype interview with my at the time academic director Peter. He was an Englishman with a calls it as he sees it attitude. After we finished the interview he simple told me,”If you want the job then it;s yours mate, let me know when you’ll get to Thailand and I will pick you up from the airport.” Just like that I was on a plane in the air for over 20+ hours where I did not sleep a single hour. It made absolutely no sense to me how someone could sleep on a airplane. I was wide awake because if anything was going to happen in the air I wanted to be awake for it, especially if it’s turbulence!
You worry too much!
Well, as it had proven to be, I was simply a hypochondriac and the plane ride was actually quite comfortable… Just the first part of my unique journey. When I’d landed I remember hoping that Peter(academic director) would actually show up to pick me up. All I was hoping for was for someone to answer my phone call… I had no idea what I would of done if he had not shown up. To my relief he was there with his girlfriend waiting for me and after a short meet and greet we hopped into the company truck and were off to drop me at the place I would be calling home for the next 6 months. He told me that there was a lot of foreigners living in these apartments and they would all “sort me out”.
My new home.
I arrived and settled in quickly as I didn’t pack too much. Over the next few days I eventually met all the people I would be working with. People from Canada, England, Australia, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and even had a few Americans. I knew at this point I was in a International environment, something I always wanted to experience.
First day school jitters…
The first day of school was probably the most scariest part for me. This is, I mean, my bread and butter. This is what would be making me money in Thailand. I had heard horror stories of teachers being let go for just about anything and everything including but not limited to being too fat, ugly, weird and dark. Yes, that last one definitely applied to me. I had heard the general consensus of Thai people preferred “white” skin because it plays along the narrative of what a “foreign teacher” should look like.
I knew that I would have some barriers to overcome and breakthrough but it would take time as for now I’m just the new African teacher(in the Thai’s mind). A majority of the black people I’ve seen in Thailand are from Nigeria and Cameroon.
Well stepping into the classroom for the first time and seeing the reaction of the children was kind of shocking. How appropriate and respectful they were. It was definitely something else. It was out of this world to have these kids give me their utmost attention. I really challenged their logic though when I told them I was American…
My big advantage coming to Thailand was that I was young, fresh out college and still very active in my personal life. I loved playing soccer and it just happen to be the big thing at school. In this photo,the students are crowding around my desk. They are asking me If I will play on their after school soccer team. My school runs their own soccer league and each team was allowed to have one teacher per team. They scouted me and I was pursued as if I was one of Europe’s top prospects(I’m laughing too).
Soon after I got accustomed to my environment at school. More of the elder teachers were beginning to like me and learn more about me(this is huge in Asian culture!). I was building rapport with the students through sports and I had found my own little style of teaching at the same time. Looking back on it now, these were definitely some of the most precious days for me in Thailand. A month full of sensory explosion and learning.