Tuesday, December 21, 2010

International Day

Yesterday was International Day at school a.k.a. the best day of the year. The entire school (and I mean every single student AND teacher) got SO into it and everyone started preparing for it MONTHS ago. Each M5 and EP class set up a "booth" about a certain country. They all dressed in costumes relating to their classes' country and each booth had all sorts of activities and food from that culture. There were two big stages set up where the students performed songs, dances, or whatever they wanted to. International Day is kind of a day for the students to let loose and have fun, rather than be proper and conservative as is expected every other day of the year. One of the Thai teachers loaned me a traditional Thai outfit so I could be Thai for the day. The whole day was SO much fun... easily the most fun I've had in a LONG time. All I kept thinking all day was "only in Asia...". So now, I hope you're ready to be bombarded with photos!

Some of my EP students lined up for morning assembly. They do this every morning... it's where the homeroom teachers take attendance and a time for any announcements to be made. It's always so regimented and the students form a sea of blue uniforms, so it was really strange to see it this way!

Some teachers dressed up in Indian attire. Everyone definitely paid more attention to taking pictures during the announcements rather than listening...

One of the student teachers and two of her students... so cute! Students have VERY good relationships with their teachers here.

Two of my favorite students! L and Poomai from my 2/8 (non EP) class:

Boon, Great, and May- a few of my M1 EP students (I teach them art and these three are also in my photography club):

Two more M1 students who are also in my photography club. This is Junior and Guy... both of them are absolutely crazy!

Yet another of my M1 students: B. I know I should be more mature now that I'm a teacher and everything, but his last name is Pimpabut...

Guy being the wonderful photography student that she is!

This is Far (not paying any attention to me). She's another from M1 and definitely one of my best students.

The last of the M1 photos (for now). Just a few American cowboys hanging out in front of the Tower of Pisa...

The EP students did an awesome performance of a medley of songs from High School Musical. I felt like such a proud parent watching them... they did so well! These girls were a few of the cheerleaders:

A few Greek goddesses (from one of my M2 classes) touring Egypt...

And a few of the Egyptians, themselves! Who also happen to be some of my M2 students:

The main performance stage... these girls were insanely good! That girl in the middle is my idol.

Oh you know, Lady Gaga being interviewed by a French renaissance woman and Siamese royalty (maybe? I never did figure out what that guy on the right was dressed as)...

Two of the other teachers have two GIANT great danes. GIANT. I was too scared to sit at my desk when they had the dogs in the office because I was genuinely afraid of being eaten. Each one of them weighs a good amount more than I do (and keep in mind, I've gained a lot of weight!) and standing on all fours they almost come up to my shoulders!!

A few of the "booths" set up. And I put booths in quotes because clearly, these are a BIT more elaborate than measly booths.

A zebra from South Africa:

One of my EP students intently watching the brutal beating of the pinata that would not break...

Meet Bonus, one of my favorite students. This kid is absolutely adorable... Erin and I fight over which one of us he likes more. The other day as he was leaving my class he yelled back to me "I love you, babay!!!" Clearly, he likes me more.

This is Mart, another one of my favorite students. He's surprised me with both his art and singing abilities and he's always joking around with me.

All of my EP students gathered around trying to break this pinata... it took, literally, at least a half an hour! When they finally got it open, all of the candy was beaten to a pulp and they couldn't even eat it!

Check out this rockstar with some of her M2 students (non EP):

A few more of my regular program students and I!

And last (finally!) but not least, one of my favorite students and I. There's a group of 4 girls and 3 TINY boys in her class that are my absolute favorite FAVORITE students (out of all 930 of them!). They are 7 of the funnest kids in the world... they're in my very last class on Friday afternoons and I always come to their class completely exhausted. Somehow though, they always manage to keep me smiling for the entire period. Because of them, there hasn't been a single Friday that I haven't left school in an amazing mood! Unfortunately my pictures with the rest of them came out blurry, but look at me all decked out in old maid Thai clothes. And she's reppin' the good 'ol US of A. We switched!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mingalaba, again

Yesterday was a National holiday in Thailand so I had a nice, long weekend. I took the opportunity to go visit the kids at Future Light for a few days. I just got back early this morning and I miss them already! I'm counting down the days until I get to see them again in just two weeks. There have been A LOT of changes since I was there last, and I was so happy to see the kids healthier and even happier this time around. They got BEDS and finished building their new school, which I must say, looks absolutely amazing. I was sad to see that Jota and the oldest boy, Poeweioo, are no longer living there. They've both been reunited with their fathers and still living in the area though, so I can only imagine they're very happy =)

The kids making good use of the new school and learning Christmas songs.

They were being taught the Spanish lyrics to 'Feliz Navidad' by a Thai teacher, so you can only imagine how much I was enjoying the "interpretation" of the lyrics...

The beautiful Tadalie...

Last time I was here, it took Mumu almost my entire stay to warm up to me. This time, she was the first to run up to me and give me a hug when I got there and she was constantly by my side. She seemed much happier and not so reserved this time around. It looks like she's learning to stand up for herself rather than fill the traditional, submissive Burmese woman's role. I couldn't help but smile every time I saw her smile, because that was such a rare thing for her just a few months ago.

The older boys learning some "break dance" moves... hilarious.

Nini and Tazioo... all smiles, all the time.

She's definitely not lacking a personality...

The boys still attempting to learn these dance moves...

Tadalie, again.

Future Light's resident beauty queen... this boy owns the catwalk.

Falling into the old routine of playing with my iPhone. They were happy to see I got some more games since last time!

Chili =)

Ready to learn!

PoKwah just hanging out, nice and comfortably. These kids are all gymnastics prodigies.



Too cool for the ninja fight going on the background...

It was an 11 hour bus ride (each way) to see these kids, but clearly, they're more than worth it. I think it's pretty obvious why =)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


After finishing my thesis a few months ago I pretty much swore off art for good. Now, after taking a few months to focus on other things and give myself a break, I've come to a conclusion: I think my problem was lack of purpose. Everything I was doing towards the end of college was just to do it. It was kind of like busy work. I needed to do it to graduate and I just did it for the grade. Since coming to Thailand, I've had the privilege of being exposed to so many new things- so many people, so many different ways of life. I've had some of the most amazing experiences imaginable. Every single moment I've spent here has made some sort of impact on me. I wish it wasn't such a cliche to say this, but there truly is inspiration around every corner. Whether it's watching my favorite street vendor cook my dinner or it's seeing a family of three eating an ear of corn as they ride down the street, somehow all on one bike. Whether it's my students or the indescribable sunset I watch from my balcony every night. Whether it's the amazing kids up at Future Light or the equally amazing people that run organizations like that... voluntarily. I feel so privileged and honored to have met the people I've met, seen the things I've seen, and done the things I've done. I think I might burst from sensory overload if I didn't do something with everything I've been experiencing, so I've started a personal project: people, places, and things that inspire me. No more of that commercial shit they taught me in school... the only point to that is to make money and these days, money is the least of my priorities. This project is for me.

I started with drawings of two of the kids up at Future Light. These two had a huge hand in shaping my experience there... neither of them would ever leave my side.

Yota: a little 4 year old cutie, who I somehow managed to make look like an old man.

Tantanso- 6 years old, barely speaks any English, but still one of the most loving people I have ever had the honor of spending time with.

My sincerest apologies for being a complete cheeseball.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monkey Buffet

Lopburi is a province of central Thailand (and just north of where I live). It is known for it's monkeys, who roam the streets freely. I've heard LOTS of stories of them fighting with people trying to steal their bags and whatever else they're carrying. The Thais say that the monkeys are descendants of Hanuman who, according to legend, claimed Lopburi as his kingdom. To celebrate the monkeys, a buffet and festival is held for them every year. Of course, there was no way I was going to miss an event like this! I'd been looking forward to it for weeks and it definitely didn't disappoint. It was probably the coolest thing I've done in Thailand so far! It was held at a wat and there were SO many people there. The grounds of the wat were completely covered by monkeys running around eating the food from their buffet. There were HUNDREDS of them!! There were newborn babies all the way up to the old fogey monkeys, who looked like wise old men. They definitely aren't shy animals! They were climbing all over everyone and helping themselves to whatever they pleased.

Just to be clear, I was the one behind bars. I was inside the wat, the monkey was outside.

A little cutie patootie enjoying some watermelon.

Mother and child...

Oh you know, just checking for bugs...

Check out the little newborn curled up to it's mother!

I'll admit, some of them kind of scared me...

Erin being attacked... the monkey was eating her hair!

This one had a bit of a superiority complex, looking down on the childish antics of the festival apparently too cool to join in.

He looks like a little old man!

Apparently I wasn't the only one annoyed by this woman and her camera...

Being a sport and looking at the camera for me.

A Thai man was feeding the monkeys his peanuts (and again, WE were the ones behind the bars!).

Sticking his tongue out!

Just hanging out... literally.

The aftermath. These were all awesome images made out of food, which the monkeys clearly destroyed.

I made a friend!

Coke vs. Pepsi