Monday, February 22, 2010

Christmas re-visited

Okay, so I never really blogged about Christmas! My mom and brother were here (in and out) for about 2 weeks. We had a pretty busy schedule planned for them to visit, do and see as much as possible in the time that they were here. Some of the things that we did included:

1. Taking a Thai cooking class (which I already blogged about)
2. Going to a floating market with our friend Diana and her family
3. Going to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho with our friend A
4. Taking a riverboat dinner cruise
5. Going on a bike ride through the "slums" and the "jungle"
6. Going on a bike ride through the Ancient City
7. Going to a Thai cultural show at Siam Niramit
8. Getting Greg a suit/tie/shirt custom-made at "Jim Man"
9. Eating Thai food down at Yellow-Yellow
10. Eating Japanese food at Akiyoshi (my favorite restaurant)
11. Going to 2 different Christmas parties with our international teacher friends
12. Eating Lebanese food and playing games on New Year's Eve with some of our international teacher friends
13. Going to the Night Bizarre
14. Just hangin' out together

Here are some of my favorite pictures from their stay with us. :)

Cutting open coconuts for us to eat at the floating market

Floating Market Dumnoen Saduak

Bracelets and Necklaces at the floating market

At the coconut sugar farm...

Did you know that spices are spicy?

Tuk-tuks outside of the grand palace

Grand Palace

Wat Pho

Reclining Buddha

Ceramic bowls by the massive Reclining Buddha stature to put coins in for "good luck"

Cycling tour around the slums and "the jungle"
aka: pavement paths that go through slimy khlongs.

Ferry to "the jungle"

City view

Bike on boat ferry

In the slummy areas of Bangkok

Mom going over the rickety bridge
View of Wat Arun from the dinner boat cruise

One of my favorite bridges to photograph

Hide and seek

Our little friend was playing hide and seek with us today. Despite a really great hiding place, we still found him. :)

The things you learn at an international school...

I realize that teaching at an international school is a unique experience in which I have the opportunity to come into contact with cultures from various parts of the world. ICS is primarily made up of students from the following countries: Thailand, Korea, India, and the US, albeit not making it terribly diverse, yet uniquely different from the schools that I worked at back in the states.

I had an interesting conversation with my AP Spanish students the other day, which is made up of 3 Indian students and 1 Korean student. We were discussing a story that involved a mother and her 4 daughters, and a family tradition where the youngest daughter was not allowed to get married and instead, was supposed to take care of her aging mother until her death. The youngest daughter in the story wanted to get married/had a prospective suitor, but due to the deep family tradition, she couldn't marry. When her suitor came to talk to the mother about marrying her, her mother told him "no," but also offered him one of her older daughters. The suitor decided to marry the other daughter because it was the only way in which he could be close to the one he actually loved.

The story stirred up a lot of emotion from my students as to what to do in that situation as the youngest daughter, the suitor, the mother, the older daughter, etc., about their own family traditions, about marriage, about rights vs. obedience, about parental involvement, etc. It was quite interesting to hear all of their thoughts and opinions, but what was most interesting to me was that I learned that one of my Indian students will have an arranged marriage. So we extensively discussed arranged marriage, their opinions, the pros and cons, and whether they would prefer to have an arranged marriage or not. Surprisingly, all four of my students would prefer an arranged marriage and think it's a great idea because they feel that their parents know them best and they would do a good job of picking out potential suitors, and because fewer arranged marriages end in divorce than traditional "pick out your own mate" marriages.

Now granted, I went into this conversation having one idea of arranged marriage, and came out having two different ideas of what arranged marriage is due to my students, particularly the one who will have an arranged marriage:
1. Arranged marriage is where the parents pick out one suitor for you and you must marry them. Sometimes you may not meet or see that person until the wedding.
2. Arranged marriage is where the parents pick out several potentially good suitors for you (based on religion, personality, the caste system, family connections and name, etc.) and you go out with them, and then choose the one you would like to marry. If there aren't any suitors that you care for, your parents will pick out new suitors and the process continues. I guess it's not all that different from the reality TV shows, "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette," now is it?

Anyway, I had a great time hearing the stories, the opinions and the perspectives of my Spanish students (and even IN Spanish). Additionally, I learned a significant amount... not just about arranged marriage, but about their relationships with their families, their traditions, the family traditions that they don't like to follow but do out of obligation, the things that they hope to change about their future, their hopes and expectations, and the driving force behind their decision making. I definitely enjoy my AP students and the unique conversations that we have. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Badminton's the name, winning's the game...

Mike has been "teaching" badminton in PE class for the last 2 weeks. And when I say "teaching," I really mean learning a thing or two and getting spanked by some of his ridiculously awesome 5th graders who take lessons or are on a team outside of school. To give you perspective, if it were possible, the high school JV badminton coach from ICS would want to have some of these kids on her team. Badminton is huge in Asia and Mike... well, Mike just isn't Asian hasn't had the same opportunities to develop his mad badminton skills so yes, he has been getting owned at times...until recently.

Our dinner conversation sounded something like this the other night:
M: [excitedly] Today I dominated one of my 5th grade classes in a few games of badminton. I was like 9-0!
K: Oh yeah? So how does it feel to beat a 5th grader?
M: It feels incredibly satisfying to whoop on 10 and 11 year olds!
K: [laughing] Why don't you pick on someone your own size!
M: [jokingly defensive] They didn't do that for me before! And after getting beat up all week, it was nice to finish on a strong note.
K: [rolls eyes] You're so hard core.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've got the giggles...

Some things that my Spanish 1 kids did to make me laugh today:

1. When taking a quiz, they were asked to write "your cats" in Spanish. (They are learning possessive adjectives). I received a whole slew of ideas on what the word "cat" was, despite it being one of their vocabulary words for the chapter. Here are some of the best re-creations of the word "gatos":
a. catos
b. getos
c. gacos
d. perros (which means dogs)
e. padre (which means dad/father)
f. cateos

2. When taking the quiz, one student walks up to me and says, "Mrs. Karly, how do you write the word 'escuchar' in Spanish?" I usually don't just tell my students how to spell things because I want them to sound it out to help them with letter identification/phonetics. So with my typical response I asked, "How do you think you spell it?" He starts out by saying: "E-S-C-U... uhm... J-A-R." I tell him that the J makes more of an English sounding H sound, and then say, "CH-CH-CH, which letters makes that sound?" He responds with the correct letters, I tell him he's right and then he looks at the spelling of the word, and then skeptically asks, "Are you sure?" Pretty sure that's why I'm the teacher and he's the student. Needless to say, he had quite the sheepish grin for me afterwards.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Big Booty, Big Booty, Big Booty...

Did you ever play the "Big Booty" rhythm game? I learned how to play it the summer I worked for Youthworks and we played it ALL THE TIME. It came to mind today when I was trying to find a pair of pants at one of the malls here in Thailand. I never thought I really had a big booty, but by Thai standards, I guess I'm frickin' huge, which is just funny to me.

At my first doctor's appointment here (that the school required to ensure that we were 'healthy'), I was told to lose about 2 kilos because I was was considered overweight by their standards. I have been working out consistently to tone up a few pudgier areas and have lost a little weight in doing so... yet I've been encountering "Big Booty" shopping problems everywhere I go.

Shopping continues to be easy for Mike. He's not even a different clothing size, and definitely doesn't need to try things on if he doesn't want to. Me on the other hand? I'm normally a size small or size 2 back in the states, but some of my "Big Booty" shopping experiences have proved otherwise.

1. Flea market style shopping, I buy a pair of shorts that measure the right size in the waist, but who knows about any other area. However, since it is flea market style shopping, I was unable to try them on. I brought them home and tried them on. I ended up calling them my shimmy-shimmy shorts because I got to about my thighs and then I had to shimmy-shimmy to get them on. I DID manage to get them on, but could barely walk for fear of them ripping in the booty area. They were a size medium.

2. Dress shopping: wandering from vendor to vendor, I eyed a dress that I loved. The lady measured me (bust, not booty) to determine which size I needed and I am a size XL. Apparently Thai women are lacking in both the booty and bust area... but I guess I'm sportin' it everywhere?!

3. Dress shopping continued: wandering to the next vendor, I spotted another dress I liked. I glanced at the store owner wondering if she would measure me like the last store, but she only said to me (after already speaking to me in Thai first), "No big size, no big size. Sorry, you too big."

4. Pants shopping: Find a pair of pants that I want. I tried on the size 2, but apparently I'm a size 4 in Thailand, which is "a large" according to them.

5. Pants shopping again: I ended up buying the same brand (but not style) of pants from last pants shopping trip, but I have moved up in sizes this time and am now a size 6. So I guess I resort again to being an XL here in Thailand.

Only in Thailand...

We're headed... Nepal in April.

Needless to say, we're frickin' excited to be backpacking around Nepal with some friends for a week. We're going through an organization called Three Sisters Adventures. The organization's goal is to improve the lives of disadvantaged women in Nepal by training them to lead treks.

A group of 5-7 of us will be taking the Ghorepani-Ghandruk Loop... "Sunrise at Poon Hill." The website describes this trek as: A perfect loop (5 days) for a short trip. The beginning of the ABC Trek, this trek ascends and descends through picturesque villages, offering great views of the Annapurnas from the famous Poon Hill. Sunrise is magical as you watch the sun dance on the peaks of Annapurna 1, Annapurna south, Annapurna 3, and Machhapuchhare. The terraced village of Ghandruk, with excellent mountain views, is a major settlement of the Gurung people, an ethnic group of Nepal. Along the way you pass through rhododendron forests, impressive river gorges and terraced fields. The maximum altitude reached is 3,200m at Poon Hill.

Overseas Pals

We had some friends come to stay with us for a weekend in the end of January. Erik and Kiki are teaching English in China for the year, and are gallivanting around Southeast Asia for the next 4 weeks on vacation. Erik and Mike grew up together in church, but hadn't kept in touch over the years, so it was fun for them to re-connect and also great to meet Kiki.

Saturday was a scattered day for us as Mike had a soccer tournament all morning/afternoon, I did my usual Saturday school work and run/swim, and Erik and Kiki explored Chatachak market and the river taxis (despite the unexpected rain... it's never supposed to rain like that during the dry season). That evening, we ate dinner together, played some cribbage, and talked overseas talk. It was refreshing to talk to people that understood the overseas experience and were adventurous enough to explore one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia by themselves (never mind how daunting it can be to get there without knowing the area/having a guide/taking two modes of transportation).

Sunday we went to church, which was the quite refreshing for them since they don't have the opportunity to go in China. Afterward, we went to the same Thai cooking school that we went to with my family, but cooked different things. We came home stuffed after eating: tom yum soup with shrimp, cashew chicken, red curry shrimp, pad thai, and sweet potato in coconut milk.
Later that evening, Kiki dominated the men in Seafarers of Catan that evening. I guess the women around here can hold their own. ;)

We felt spoiled being in Bangkok after talking to them about their experiences in China:
1. They don't have a school calendar...kind of just fly by the seat of their pants
2. They can't get any dairy products
3. The bread there is all sweet
4. The nearest "American food" place is McDonalds and it's 50 minutes away from them
5. There is no heat in the school or in their apartment, despite it being 30-40 degrees! Needless to say, they were so happy to be wearing shorts and flip-flips here in Thailand.
6. All of their food is cooked in tons of oil and is very greasy
7. They live in a very small area and are the ONLY foreigners
8. Having sooooo many students

Anyway, they left on Monday for Cambodia. It was a brief stay, but we definitely enjoyed our time with them! :)


And this is why you hand wash any article of clothing that you buy in Thailand several times before deciding to put it in the washer with other clothes...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes... or teachers...

Things I have actually said recently in Spanish classes in response to things my students have said/done:

Why do I hear you talking about camels?

No, I am not my brother’s girlfriend. That’s gross.

Please stop dancing to the music and do your work.

Yes, gatos can be gatas if the gat is a girl… I mean, gat… I mean, cat.

I owned you? You seriously want to know how to say I owned you?

Pelar—it means to peel the skin off something, like an orange… No, it isn’t a cruel way to torture someone or something. That’s gross.

I’m not exactly a dictionary, am I?

No, I do not have grandkids. How could I have grandkids if I don’t have children?

You sound like a gringo. Why do you sound like a gringo?

I’m deaf… no, you don’t say you’re welcome to me when I tell you I can’t hear. Try again.

No worries, this is a G-rated powerpoint.

I don’t care if you don’t have sister or not, but you can still answer the question. I’m giving you permission to make up an answer... Yes, I know that you shouldn’t lie. No, I don't think you'll go to hell for that...I just want you to use your Spanish.

C’mon! Clean up after yourself. Do I look like your mother? Oh… I do? Well, I’m not, so clean up your stuff!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More baby talk

A glimpse into the minds of my 9th grade boys through our real conversations...

Background info: Today we started a unit on family, so I was introducing vocabulary to them via a powerpoint presentation and a youtube video. Needless to say, they got to talking about/asking when I would have an "hijo" or an "hija" of my own.

Student A: So you don't have any kids?
Me: Nope
Student A: Will you please adopt me?
Me: Nope... do I look old enough to be your mother, you're 13!
Student A: But ¡Ud. es muy simp├ítica!
Me:'re telling me I look vieja and simpática.
[Class laughs]
Student B: Are you going to have hijos while you're here in Tailandia?
Me: I don't know
Student C: You need to have babies here Mrs. Karly! You need to be a madre and have hijos.
[Class chimes in with 'yeahs!']
Student A: But I want to be your AP student. You aren't going to leave when you have kids, are you?
Me: I signed a two year contract. I'm here for at least two years and then I don't know what will happen after that. It depends on what my husband wants to do too.
Student C: Tu esposo is going to want to stay.
Student D: Well even if su esposo stays, that doesn't mean that she will keep teaching, especially if they have babies.
Me: You're right. So basically we can come to the conclusion that it's all in God's hands. It's easy to want to plan your life out, but it doesn't always work the way that you want it to or the way you plan. Have you ever had that happen to you? I guess we just have to be flexible then and allow our lives to be molded by our Creator.
[Class mulls it over]
Student A: So when are you going to have babies again?
Me: Aaaaand we're done.

B-b-b-bird, bird, bird…b-bird’s the word

Due to tropical weather in Thailand, the school’s hallways are not entirely closed off to the outdoors. Needless to say, it is quite the change from Minnesota where recess is cancelled half of the winter due to below zero wind chills. The open hallways are especially nice on days where there is a cool breeze, but can be dangerous on rainy days because of slippery tiles. The thing that always catches me off guard though is the birds. Birds will fly through the hallways and sometimes you literally have to “dodge” them as they come flying at you. (This doesn’t happen as much during the busy school day, as it does during a) pre-school hours while the kids are still downstairs in the commons and they’re still in their comatose sleepy stage, and b) the quiet Saturday mornings that I spend at school lesson planning).

After school today I had my door ajar whilst I corrected papers, and a bird flew into my room! I entered into a state of panic, wondering if the bird would find its way out, if I would have to leave my doors open for the night, if it would ram itself into the windows, and if I would find a dead bird on my floor the next morning. However, the silly thing happily sat on a desk and jumped around a bit, flew a few circles around my room, propped itself on my bookshelves, and then left. Only in Thailand.