Saturday, 16 February 2013

Keeping myself busy

If you didn't know already,  

I'm coming home!

In 38 days to be exact! Wow! I just realised that's really soon!
Anyway, I decided this in October last year and ever since then I kinda felt like I was in this weird inbetween stage and I was just kinda killing time counting down the months till I could start a proper countdown. So I just basically sat around all day every day. Most of this sitting around time was spent on youtube, which gave me this genius idea that instead of wasting my time I would go out and enjoy my last few months in Thailand and film it and put it on youtube, so that you guys can see what i've been up to. That way, I get to have some of my memories of Thailand on film and you guys get to have some idea of what my life has been like here so that when I get home I hopefully wont get anymore, 'How was China?' or 'Do you speak Taiwanese?' questions.
So anyway, I've done exactly that!
I've been filming stuff for awhile now but i've just been too busy mastering the art of procrastination to put any of them up yet. Although to my credit, there has also been some mastering the art of editing videos in there as well!

This is my first video below. Its a bit long but...whatever!


I won't make blog posts about all the videos I put up so just subscribe to my channel and the lovely internet will let you know when I put up a new one.

Also, if you thought it was completely rubbish, just pretend you never read this :)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Why despite everything it is still great to be South African

In the beginning of 2009, I, like so many other frustrated South Africans, left the country in search of a better one. 
Frustrated with the crime and how expensive it was to do anything, angry at the government for failing to get anything right, and irritated that I was stuck in this country when the rest of the world seemed to be having all the fun. 
So I got on a plane and left for London.

It took me less than 2 months to realise that the grass is not greener in other countries. Literally speaking, England's definitely is, but figuratively, it was the middle of the recession, so me along with the rest of the world living in London couldn't find a job. England was also struggling with political people failing to deliver and I would say I lived in more fear in London than I ever did in SA (in all fairness though, I didn't live in the most amazing area). 

It wasn't too long after this realisation, coincidentally round about the same time I started to miss decent biltong, that I realised that if all countries have problems, I think i'd rather take South Africa's! 
Come the 6 month mark of leaving the country, I was counting the days till I could go back.
I planned my return perfectly with that of the world cup preparations, something that I still wasn't too sure was a good thing that our country accepted, but being the newly patriotic person that I was, I was keen to support South Africa in anything they did.

I remember a day or two before the world cup began, at midday, every South African grabbed their Vuvuzela, flag, bafana bafana shirt, you name it, got in their car or stood out in the street and hooted and blew their vuvuzela for 5 minutes. It possibly will always be the most amazing thing I will ever experience. Grown men were calling into radio stations crying saying how proud they were to be South African. It was probably then that I realised that accepting to host the world cup was going to be a good thing. Two years later I still have only good memories of that time when South Africa really was the united Rainbow Nation that we love calling ourselves.

I live in Thailand now. I've just passed the 2 year mark. I am still as patriotic as ever, maybe even more.
I've even become a rugby supporter! 

It's possibly a lot easier staying proud of where I come from because I'm not there to see the daily newspaper with another headline of everything that is going wrong but maybe its allowed me to hold onto the good without getting so bogged down by the bad.

I just finished reading a book where one of the main characters does this thing when life sucks. She imagines terrible scenarios that could happen and then thinks about how lovely it is that her life is not that bad.
So lets try that. 

Imagine South Africa was so overpopulated that we had to have a one child per family rule. 
Imagine our government didn't allow women to go to university. 
Imagine we got tortured to death for not practising the 'right' religion. 
Imagine we lived in fear of stepping on a landmine and being blown to pieces. 
Imagine you lived in a country where stoning people to death was still acceptable.
 Imagine our president was Hitler or Pol Pot or Kim Jong II or Saddam Hussein or Robert Mugabe. 
Imagine we lived in a country where the way most people are born is not considered beautiful. 
Imagine from a young age you were told how to act, think, behave and live, until eventually you didn't even know how to think for yourself anymore. 
Imagine you lived in a country where tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and other awful natural disasters were to be expected. 
Imagine you lived in a country where it rained more often than it didn't. 
Imagine you lived in a country whose education system sucked so much you didn't know Europe was a continent instead of a country or how many sides there are to a triangle. 
Imagine you lived in a country surrounded by land instead of two oceans. 
Imagine you lived in a country with no mountains. 
Imagine you lived in a country where all of your sports teams sucked and you couldn't appreciate the Olympics or any world cup as much. 
Or imagine you lived in a country where when your olympic team walked out at the opening ceremony, half the world went, 'where on earth is that?!'.

Just imagine...

Did you know that the UK is almost half the size of South Africa but has 10 million more people than we do?! Did you know that in some asian countries there are more motorbikes than people?! And you thought our taxi's drive badly. Our president might not be perfect but he hasn't purposefully sent thousands of people to their death just yet. Or legalised stoning people to death.
We still have a lot of good.
We still have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to become what we want. 
From a young age we are, or certainly should be, encouraged to think for ourselves and choose the person we want to be, instead of being moulded into a robot who thinks the same way as everyone else. 
Today I gave my Grade 2 students paper and paint and said, paint anything you want. The entire class, with the exception of 3, drew exactly the same thing. If you asked a Grade 2 child in South Africa the same thing, I guarantee you, you will get some interesting paintings. Asian children are taught to do whatever they're told, their opinion doesn't matter.
If you get thirsty while reading this, you can walk to the tap and drink from it. I have to walk down 4 flights of stairs to get clean drinking water.
Despite being a country known for our high crime rates, we are not at the top of the list. Despite being a country known for being racist, it is illegal to racially discriminate against people. There are countries where it is perfectly acceptable to be racist. There are schools in Asia who will not even look at your CV if you are black and that is not frowned upon.

One of my favourite things to do when I go home, is to drive on that road from the waterfront back home where you get that beautiful view of Table Mountain. It often brings me to tears because it is just so beautiful. And the drive to Pringle Bay where you drive along the sea, with the mountain on the one side and the sea on the other. 

Apart from being a beautiful country, we have amazing people! 
When people ask me why I think South Africa is so amazing, I say its because of the people. There is something about South Africans. I can't describe it, its got something to do with out sense of humour and our language and the fact that we're westernised but not first world, growing up eating biltong might have something to do with it. Meeting a fellow South African while travelling is the greatest, we form this instant bond with our knowledge of our awesomeness:)

Moving on, South Africa got 3 gold medals at the olympics in case you just left your cave and we beat Argentina in rugby on saturday! And did you know I have yet to find cake better than Charley's bakery...and i've been to Paris!

I'm not saying South Africa has no problems or that they're not that big. And I don't want to offend anyone who has been seriously affected by South Africa's problems, be it crime, or not getting a job or into university because of your skin colour. And I am fully aware that I speak from a very small minority of South Africans who can actually afford to live.  
South Africa has problems!
Huge problems. And it doesn't look like we're going to solve them anytime soon, maybe not even in our lifetime.

You are most probably thinking to yourself, who are you, you left, you don't have the right to say these things. 
Maybe. 
Or maybe it takes someone like me, to remind you that we are not the only country with problems. To remind you of the so many good things that we have that you often forget about or take for granted when you read the headlines on the way to work. To remind you that when you travel to another country and people ask you, where you come from, it is still a great honour to say that you are South African.


Why am I still here

I always go on about how much I love South Africa and when I talk about Thailand, its usually just to complain about something. So a logical thing would then be to ask, why don't I just go home, surely its that simple.
Well, the short answer to that question is, if I want to say that South Africa is the greatest country on earth, I have to have been to all the other one's! Hahaha.

But seriously, just because I love South Africa, doesn't mean I can't travel to other countries. I absolutely love travelling and the more I travel the more countries I want to travel to.
I know I won't always have the opportunity to travel so I'm using the opportunity I have now while I'm still studying to do it.
If I come home, i'll still be a student and I won't be able to get a job doing what I want (being a teacher) so why not live in a country where I can be a teacher until I have my degree and I can come home and be a teacher there.

As for why stay in Thailand specifically if I seem to hate it so much?
To answer that properly, you will have to meet my students. I did not think it would be possible to love someone that much even when you can't even communicate with them.
It's no secret that I don't agree with the thai education system or with most of their cultural things. That probably makes me a bad person, and I know its wrong, trust me i'm working on it. 

When I leave, I will most probably never see these children again, I will never know what they become, who or if they get married. I won't know if their next teacher loves them as much as I do. I won't know if there is someone to tell them its ok to cry when they're sad or that their picture is beautiful even when the others teachers are telling them its not because trees in real life are not blue. I won't know if they are getting enough hugs every day, of if they'll have someone to sing the mickey mouse theme song with, and that will kill me. 

Its probably my arrogance thinking that im the best teacher they'll ever have and I'm giving them the best education and without me everything will suck because no one is as good as me, or its probably just my bad attitude towards things here. 
Either way, everytime I see all the children being forced to say their morning prayers or being told they cannot cry when they're sad their mother isn't coming to the mother's day ceremony, or when we have to test 2 year olds on things that they shouldn't be taught yet because they should be outside playing, it makes me want to stay forever so that I can tell them that they can do whatever they want to. Because life is that simple!

That and Thailand's not all that bad. I do actually love it here. The culture and language barrier is difficult and im reminded of it daily but other than that, I've met some amazing people, been to some amazing places and made memories that I won't easily forget.

I'll be home april 2014!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Second time around

I cant believe i've been here for over a year. 
On the one hand I feel like I don't really know anything else and I feel totally at home here but on the other hand, a year just seems like a long time.
I am now one of the teachers who have been here the longest and people ask me what to expect before an event because I was there last year, which feels weird coz it seems like the other day I was the one asking what was going on. I've been here for 2 mothers days, 2 sports days and 2 art exhibitions. 
Thankfully, (for me and everyone attending) I was not the MC this year!!


All the teachers with the mayor of Khon Kaen at the Queens Birthday Ceremony.

Things are a lot different the second time around tho. For starters, I didn't sing a Justin Bieber solo at the principals birthday last year. I didn't sing happy birthday to her in afrikaans either!!!

I have quite successfully started a South African village which consists of me, Rose, Adri, Danielle, Jack when he comes to visit, and we met 2 more South African while watching the first rugby game. That was a total surprise! We were sitting at this bar filled with about 15 ancient british and american guys when in walked a young couple. I think we just assumed they were american or something when all of a sudden they start speaking afrikaans. We were very excited. And then we went for dinner afterwards, so I have added them to our village...they dont know this yet tho, hahaha. I also have a Namibian and a Motswana (a motswana, as I recently found out, is what you call a person from Botswana) friend.
 
 Me, Danielle and Rose at the South Africa vs Wales game.
 Adri joining us for the South Africa vs Fiji game.

So Africa is totally taking over!!!

Other things that have changed, I live in a new apartment, I teach older babies, I don't have to rely on public transport anymore!!!!, I go to a different church, I have more than one friend now...friends are always good:D I have a kitten/child :D I am studying and going to thai classes so I no longer live the sabai sabai thai life! Oh and I am now a big rugby supporter..yip, my rugby jersey literally arrived 2 minutes ago!!!

Things that havent changed...i still dont speak taiwanese, lol, if you dont get that or you understand it and think its funny then you are a good friend:)

Other than that nothing huge has happened that I can tell you so I thought i'd share some little stories that have happened to me and that could probably only happen in Thailand, before my next blog post which will be all about my trip to South Korea and then possibly about the RWC final...if we make it...which we will!

My first story, I have called, “It has eyes”

So the other day at home time, 3 of the children were leaving at the same time and there were all these parents standing around and this one kids mother had bought her child a snack which she was busy eating. Being the adorable little munchkin, that I have taught so well, she offered me one. So she poured something out of the packet into my hand and I looked down to see what it was, and to my absolute horror, it was a little baby dried out fish, with eyes and everything. I immediately started freaking out but only inside coz im surrounded by all these parents who are now staring at me. The only thing I could think of saying was, “It has eyes”! And then I put it in my mouth and nearly died! Luckily I had an oreo in my other hand which another one of my students (who after this experience is now my favourite) had bought for snack time, so I turned around and put the oreo into my mouth. You'll all be happy to know, that I survived!

My second story is called, “Oh my Go....”

This story is about how I unintentionally taught my kids to say “Oh my God”.
Read the whole story before you judge me!
So randomly the other day during my english lesson my kids decided they were all going to start saying “Oh my God”, I was absolutely horrified and was like, “No, don't say that”. Which they thought was very funny and so just kept walking around saying “Oh my God” all the time. It kind of died down after awhile, until the other day we were reading a story about a horse stuck in a tree and I said, “Oh my Gosh!” and all the kids (almost in unison, it was quite amazing) were like, “No, dont say that.” and then they laughed and proceeded to all start saying “Oh my God”. And then it hit me, thai people cant say the 'sh' sound so what they're really saying is “Oh my Go.” which just sounds like they're saying God. So then I tried to teach them the 'sh' sound and a couple of the kids can say it but a lot of them still just walk around cursing. So I am trying to stop saying “Oh my gosh” but im struggling. I have however successfully taught a few of my kids “Super Lol”, Im hoping this will catch on rather.

This is not so much a story but just something I saw. Being the rainy season at the moment, most of Thailand is flooded and the potholes in the road have become like little dams in the road, especially on the road that I take to church. So the other day I drove past 3 little kids who were actually SWIMMING in a pothole. Yip, they are that extreme!!

And lastly, I'm famous!! There is a 2 minute video on youtube all about me!!

The principal wanted to record me teaching which I wasnt to happy about so one day, while I was busy doing traffic school she sent me thai co-teacher out with a video camera to record me. Now I need to just explain why I look like angry in the video. It was a hundred degree out, I was one person looking after 20 kids on bicycles, and one of them had just killed a beautiful butterfly. And if I remember correctly, nothing else had gone right that day either. So, knowing that, you may now watch the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVHgvKQrNLs

Friday, 5 August 2011

Meet my munchkins

I think I speak too much so instead of telling you how cute my kittens are you can see for yourself (i wont shut up completely tho...i just can't).

Ming Ming and Jenifer, our classes representatives for Teacher Respect Day



Circle time in the morning, singing 'I'm a little teapot'


Porkchop


Me, my thai teacher and our assistant teacher being 'respected'/worshipped



Boon-Boon, this kid is adorable and is completely obsessed with anything fire engine related.


Yok, after sleep time when they've put powder on her face, she looks like the grudge


Praw is lovely, she reminds me of rainbows and fluffy pink thinks. You cannot not be happy when Praw is around.


Palm's parents don't know how to spell her name.

 





They invented the word munchkin when Phoom was born. He repeats/shouts everything i say in his adorable little high pitched voice.


Learning about clouds. The 2 odd looking ones are dinosaurs, they are absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs.


Jenifer likes talking, or rather loves talking. 
The other day i asked her to write her name on her worksheet and she wrote as clear as day 'ET'...it was possibly the funniest moment of my life.



'Nawin your sun needs a nose'



Porkchop lost a tooth


Ploy never speaks, she only sings...to herself, except for about 3 times a day when she runs up to me says 'Teacher Chloe' and then runs away again.


Porkchop showing off for the camera



Thomas working hard


Great is one of 2 of my baby geniuses. His sun looked better than mine. And you will be happy to know that he recently cut off his mullet.




In thai they were learning about frogs so my thai teacher thought it was a good idea to bring one to school

Jenifer disagreed.




Health class, wash your hair



Wash your hands


Great writing thai


Swimming class



Neptune...coolest name ever if you ask me


Ming Ming has a full body Ben 10 swimming costume





Story time


Learning our phonics




Mak writing thai numbers.
Mak is my shadow/mathematician/teaching assistant/baby genius/favourite student, i mean, what? I don't have favourites!!


Music lessons



Field trip to the agriculture faculty at the university





Arthur (Williams brother) and his awesome comboy outfit



Planting our own corn plants




Then we went back to school and planted our own corn plants behind our classroom.


Victoria


Mak


Neptune


Great


Putting our windmills that we made in


Soornthornphu day (a famous thai poet)





Neptune is always ready to strike a pose


Rena my grade 1 student and Nishar my grade 2 student


 Amky...she's only in Grade 1!!!


Neptune is definately in my class






Always ready with the 'V'

I now have 20 students and they are all absolute legends...give or take 2 or 3! Just kidding...maybe...