Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tutoring (Secret of Nim)

So, my Dad recently asked about my tutoring experience so far. For the record, I welcome any questions about my experience that will help me clarify things and improve my blog! I've been tutoring for a few weeks now and I should describe how it's going so far, and it's going quite well. It was tough to figure out what to do at first because I was unfamiliar with tutoring 1 on 1, especially with 8th and 2nd graders. I started tutoring two brothers separately; the 8th grader by himself and the 2nd grader with a friend. Then their mother informed me that both of her sons would be accompanied by a friend during the sessions. So now I tutor two P2 (grade/primary 2) on Tues/Thurs and two M2 (grade 8) on Wednesdays. The sessions take place in the early evening after school at a small restaurant a few steps outside the gate of the school. 
  It's been really challenging; finding worksheets for both levels and planning hour-long lessons, but it is definitely worth the money. When I tutor two kids at once I get paid 800 baht (about $26 USD) but that money goes a long way here. That's more than enough for a week of going out to lunch. The mother is extremely nice and grateful, and her sons are very nice, but shy (especially the P2). Her M2 son seems to understand everything I say, but he has difficulty speaking English in complete sentences because he gets hung up on certain words. So I realized that his vocabulary is obviously something to work on. His friend seems to have a better understanding of the language, so he's my translator sometimes. I had them read a children's book about the 'Mummy' movie with Brendan Frasier and summarize it as they read to make sure they understood it. They've seen the movie, but reading it was tough for them. I also typed up simple questions about the reading so they could write their answers and work on their handwriting. I also took a summary of Aladdin from the internet and replaced Aladdin's name to see if they could recognize the story without any names. About halfway through they figured it out haha. In the Aladdin reading I removed some of the verbs so they could fill it in themselves with the correct tense of the verb. It seemed to work pretty well. They got the hang of it after a few sentences. 
  For P2 I've been teaching simple worksheets about parts of speech; nouns, adverbs, adjectives. They don't talk much, so I make them read simple sentences and pick out the parts of speech in the exercise. I'm slowly getting them to describe things so we can eventually start writing about something. It's hard to get them to focus. After school they always snack while I'm tutoring so they get food all over the place, spill their drinks and rarely sit still. But today I only taught the P2 student's friend because the mother (Nim) had to pick up her older son from military camp. I learned her sons names, but I can never remember which one is which. Their names are very similar (Job and Jhom) and when Nim says their names I can't tell the difference because of her accent. So I slur their names so I could be saying either one. Job and Bahm are the M2 students, Jhom and Neothan are the P2 students. 
Some of the other Loyola tutors have already gone out to dinner with the parents that hired them, so I'm hoping that happens soon so I can learn more about Nim and her family. 

Song of the Day:
 I've been struggling to find new music lately. I should go through my thousands (yes, thousands) of emails from radio promoters and see what's worthy of a listen. But that seems arduous and exhausting. I keep listening to the same songs and I'm tired of my Itunes, so I need to figure out something fast. I should probably just post more Pogo songs because he has been on a spree right now releasing songs. This is quite a treat because in the past I had to wait months for new material. These songs are fantastic and you know I can't stop listening to them! I can never have enough Pogo!
Pogo - 'Bloom'

Pogo - 'Mellow Brick Road'

Sunday, June 26, 2011

JJ Market Shopping Spree

  After recovering from being sick I went to JJ Market on Saturday for a day of shopping. After all, I just got paid on Friday, so I was anxious to drop some baht. I love getting lost in that market, so it's always fun to explore new areas and get a sense of how to navigate the place. I bought a few t-shirts; a Red Bull and Coke shirt in Thai, and a white t-shirt with the word 'OK' on it. For some reason I really like the shirts here with random English words or phrases. I've seen shirts with funny phrases like 'It's me' or 'She's' that crack me up when I see them. Nothing crazy this weekend to report - I wanted to take it easy. I actually went to JJ again today just for something to do because a different group wanted to go. So today I picked up a few more t-shirts, a dress shirt and a skinny tie. I'm a big fan of this one shirt I bought today that has a cassette tape on the front with neon colors all over it, and below it says 'Analog Cassette: Retro 1969'. It's tough to describe, but maybe you'll see a picture of me wearing it one of these days.

  Pause the Music:
  I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on my music choices lately. I can't stop listening to electronic music. Maybe my Friday night mashup show wasn't enough of a release for me or something, but I find myself only listening to dance music and straying away from my passion for alternative/indie. It's tough to come by here in Thailand. Electronic music thrives here. You can't escape it, plus all the clubs play the best dance music. Moreover, some of the best names in electronic music perform here, with Fatboy Slim and Afrojack already making appearances in the same weekend! I was always anxious in America to experience a techno/dance club that was more than a concert or dance party at a bar. I definitely found that here, and it doesn't seem to get much better than BKK! But I do miss my tunes from working at WLOY and now I feel behind in the indie rock world. So maybe I need to do some research and see what my former promoters are listening to and what's workin' the charts. Recommendations of new tunes are welcome! With that I'll post something I heard while strolling through the market. Brings me back to my days at WLOY. The song was unexpected and made me smile because I never thought I'd here this small-time band while wandering through a market in south Asia, but maybe they're getting more popular! 

Song of the Day:
The Drums - 'We Tried'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Food Poisoning

  Yes, I had food poisoning. Yes, I'm feeling better. I think I got sick from some Pad Thai that I bought from a street vendor at 2am last weekend. I wasn't the only one from our group who ate it, but that's just the way the illness works. I got sick, the other person didn't. So I spent four days in the hospital losing my mind and now I'm back on campus recovering. I don't really want to talk about it anymore, just wanted to inform the followers as to my reason for my lack of posting, and that I'm feeling better. Onward!

Morgan De Toi!

  Friday evening brought us back to Emporium Mall for the Morgan De Toi! lingerie fashion show. The event was held in the clothing store itself to ensure its exclusiveness and prevent any onlookers outside the store from sneaking a peek. It was a pretty small space, with people lined up on both sides of a short runway down the middle of the store. I stood near the clothing racks to spectate from a distance and avoid getting in anyone's way. I feel out of place at these events anyway, at least until I have a few drinks. Before the show started the crowd was treated to a performance by a ladyboy pop star who seemed to idolize Lady Gaga. (He?) wore a giant messy blonde wig and a skin tight leopard print dress with black tights and heels. The whole outfit was laughable to any Westerner, because it was obviously a man in drag. What a diva. He sang a song to entertain the crowd, and they sure loved it. I couldn't tell if he was singing an original song or covering someone else's song, but it was actually pretty good. So I guess the pop star is a big deal in Thailand if he's performing at a televised fashion show. 
  The show featured six Russian models who all seemed to look alike. I wouldn't say that they were very attractive, especially because of how severely thin some of them were. Not to take away from the glamour of the show, but it was something that caught me off guard. I really enjoyed the event, plus the music was great. The whole runway scene lasted about twenty minutes, which concluded with free champagne. 
  After sipping on champagne in the store we were informed of a wine tasting on the lower level, still part of the Italian Wine Fest. Sophie, Ashley and I sat down at a row of tables while a professional wine taster explained how to properly sample the selections. I had some idea of what to do, but I enjoyed being guided through the whole process and learning about the entire wine-making process; from the region of Italy, to the fermentation, down to the grapes themselves. We drank one white and two reds, accompanied by bite size prosciutto on bread and some great cheese. Our guide was very knowledgable about all the food from Sardinia, Italy, so I assumed he was from somewhere near there. But I was surprised to learn that he was actually from Canada! He certainly knew his stuff. I love Italian food, so that whole experience was a real treat. 

  To summarize the rest of the night, Fresh took me to a dance party at the top of some fancy mall. I had no idea where we were but the mall had one of those famous wax museums in it, so it must have been pretty upscale. The top floor looked more like an open warehouse filled with people dancing, and somehow the drinks were free. Didn't know why and didn't care to ask. We danced there until midnight, then went to a club called Glow. It was a short cab ride away. Glow was the smallest club I've been to so far. It felt more cramped than Bed Supper, even with less people. The place was painted black all over with neon stripes painted throughout. Black lights illuminated the stripes, thus enhancing the glow. I imagine the place would be more fun with more people and better music. There were four dj's playing, yet all the music sounded the same and quickly became stale. Hard to believe all that happened in the same night! 

Song of the Day:
  Here's a song that I heard at the fashion show. Imagine all the models struttin' their stuff to this song. Damn. 
Ladyhawke - 'Paris is Burning' (Peaches Remix)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Italiano Vino Festa!

  Bon-jor-no. Last night twelve of us ventured back to Emporium Mall for the Italian Wine Festival. What a contrast between this event and the Formula 1 night. Just looking at the pictures it doesn't even look like the same place. The wine flowed the entire time we were there. A bottle of red, bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite. I had to throw that line in there. Champagne was available too, so I made sure to get my share of each. It was all free, so all of us went to town on the bar. We all had a great time: drank wine for the first time in a while, made some new friends, and one enemy. Let me explain...

  So, if you look through my Facebook pictures from the festival, you'll see me standing next to a very attractive blonde woman in a few photos named Monique. Sophie and I introduced ourselves because we were standing within the same group of friends, and naturally it lead to a conversation about our business in Thailand. She seemed genuinely friendly and curious about us and we seemed to hit it off rather well. Before long this German/Polish chick Monique invited us to go to a pub with her to have a few drinks. We thought, "well, she's hot and friendly, so why not, right?" So Walter, Sophie and I hopped in a cab with her and drove off to the pub. On the way I recall Monique saying how she hates fake people who aren't genuinely nice. Who doesn't? When we get to the bar Monique greets her co-workers at a nearby table before the four of us sit down at a booth to get drinks. We order our drinks and Monique orders two drinks for herself and at least five appetizers for the table. The three of us are thinking that ordering all this food is a little excessive, but we don't say anything. We chat until the food gets to the table, which ignites a ravenous hunger in Monique. She literally uses both her hands to stuff her face with all the fried food. Luckily Walter got this on film while she was in a drunken binge eating zone. I'll try to get the video up and running - it's shocking how someone so polite and attractive can become so grotesque in an instant. Monique continues to stuff her face without talking to any of us, totally oblivious to Walter's filming and laughing right in front of her. 

  As soon as she finishes the food she knocks over her glass of wine onto herself, slides out of the booth, stands up to take a few steps, trips and falls on the ground, then gets up and says goodbye to her co-workers while walking out the door to get a cab. All of this happened so quickly that the three of us could not believe we were getting played by this chick. We grabbed the waitress who managed to catch Monique and get 1000B from her before she left. The bill was nearly 2000B, and we only ordered to drinks and a water. Obviously we were upset. Long story short we got one of her co-workers to pick up the bill for us. Apparently this chick is notorious for getting incredibly drunk and belligerent. Also known as a hot mess. Thankfully it all worked out and we got a great story out of the experience. More of our friends came to join us at the bar after Monique left, so we had fun telling them everything that had happened. It was still a great night, for a Tuesday. Next event: Lingerie fashion show on Friday. Stay tuned! 

Song of the Day:
Just a great song, and I remember hearing it in the pub after the situation with Monique was resolved, which made me happy. 
Norman Greenbaum - 'Spirit in the Sky'

Paradise Found: Koh Samet

 This past Saturday everyone from Loyola plus Fresh took a two and a half hour van ride and a thirty minute ferry ride to the tropical island, Koh Samet. I'm sure you've seen my pictures by now, which obviously cannot do any justice to how incredibly beautiful the beach was. It looks like the tropical paradise you see on exotic vacation resort commercials, or the tropical desktop background on your computer. When we got to the island we walked from the immediate coastline through the small town and out to the beach on the other side. The beach was lined with spacious bars and restaurants with people serving food all day. All kinds of food! I was so happy just to have a tuna sandwich and fries. We walked through these places toward an area of bungalows that Fresh was familiar with.  Our accommodation was basically a small hut with a giant bed as the only piece of furniture inside. The bed nearly took up all the floor space. Fresh, Walter and I split the cost of the room, each paying only 100B. A pretty sweet deal for a tropical beachside bungalow overlooking the water. As soon as we paid for the room we threw down our bags and ran down the hill to the ocean. The smooth white sand was the finest I've ever felt, and the water was certainly the warmest I've ever swam in. I like to compare the water temperature to bath water, which I loved. It was still refreshing because the sun there was so brutally hot. Once I jumped into that water I felt the happiest I've been in a long time. The feeling is difficult to describe, but I could really savor the moment of being at such an exotic location half way around the world. I guess I realized how far I've come (or gone) since my transition to Loyola. 

  My day consisted of hanging out with everyone on the sand playing soccer and frisbee, and swimming together until a small storm blew in. The thing about storms here is they never last very long, so it gave me a chance to go back to the hut and take a short nap. I was running on two hours of sleep after The Club the night before, so I had to recharge for the absolute chaos that night. Fast forward to around nine o'clock, when we all went down to the beach for a fire show. This entails young men dipping weapons into kerosine and then igniting them to perform dazzling acrobatics. With weapons ablaze they spun the objects to create an orange blur of flames. The Thai performers stood along the beach on each others shoulders while spinning and even little kids as young as fifteen years old were part of the show. Needless to say I was amazed and impressed by all the performers. The night really got going when the audience was allowed to participate - something that would never, ever happen in America. No, we didn't flail any weapons around; that would just be stupid and dangerous. Instead, we tried fiery limbo and jumped through a burning ring of fire. Limbo was just absurd. One of the Thai performers bent so far that his back nearly touched the ground. At this position he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it on the burning limbo stick. Incredible. I only went under a few times at the highest point - flexibility is not one of my talents. After limbo the performers propped up a giant fiery ring that we all jumped through. You can see a picture of me mid-air on Facebook. I made it through safely, even jumping hand in hand with a friend. However, one of the girls in our group drunkenly fell into the hoop and seriously burnt her legs. So that was the end of that. But thankfully she recovered for round three: the tribal beach rave. 

  The fiery ring was laid to rest and the crowd lined up on the beach holding hands as the music started. Suddenly we all ran in a line toward the dance floor on top of the sand. While in line, Thai performers painted tribal designs on our faces with fluorescent paint that glowed under the black lights. Pictures from the night displayed that I had a giant pink cross on my face; horizontally across my forehead and vertically from my forehead down to my chin. I don't think I've ever danced harder in my life. It was probably one of the best, if not the best night of dancing ever for me. I literally danced with anyone and everyone. I even cut a rug with some cute Asian chicks. The atmosphere was just overwhelming - dancing to my favorite electronic music on a tropical beach with a bunch of my friends. Amazing! I must go back! 

Song of the Day:
I know I recently posted the original version of this song, but I want to post a great remix that I know I heard during the beach rave. 
Flo-Rida - 'Club Can't Handle Me' (Sidney Samson Remix)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celeb Status

  I've been so busy lately I haven't had time to blog! So, let me recap from this past Thursday, which may have been the best Thursday of my life thus far. Fresh hooked me up with VIP access to a Formula 1 celebration party at Emporium Mall. Although the celebration was in Bangkok, the event took place in anticipation of the F1 Grand Prix race that will take place in Singapore. I've learned that a lot of international events take place in Thailand, while Thailand events themselves take place in other countries. For example, the Italian Film and Wine Festivals are both taking place here in Bangkok, while the Thailand Film Festival will be held in Italy. Anyway, this wine festival is at the same location as the Formula 1 night. It will be interesting to see how the atmosphere of the place changes for each event. 

  The Formula 1 celebration took place on the bottom floor in the center of a huge mall complex called Emporium Mall. It was surrounded by the most upscale stores. Inside the roped off area was a dj platform, bar, model runway, and a real Formula 1 car. Being there was quite a privilege, considering that there were Thai models, actors and actresses, and pop stars in attendance. I of course had no idea who any of these people were, but Fresh pointed them out to me while he searched for celebrities to photograph. Sophie, Lisa and I met some of Fresh's friends that he works with from promotional agencies or PR companies. Fresh knows so many people through his job that I just assume he knows everyone. Fresh's photos from the night will be available soon, but in the meantime you can check out this link that I found just by googling. As you look at these pictures from the night, be sure to look closely at the last one near the bottom of the page (wink). Formula 1 Emporium. It certainly was an extravagant night, drinking for free and partying with celebrities, but our evening didn't end there.

  From Emporium Mall we drove to Bed Supper Club. The name of the club is as ridiculous as the inside. I like to describe it as a spaceship lounge. The picture in the link shows one side of the club, which is half of the club itself. This is the relaxing side of the club with the beds on both sides, and both floors. I learned that this side of was also the VIP side where all the models and celebrities socialized. At one point Fresh pointed out an attractive girl at the bar and told me that it was Miss Universe from a previous year. It was easy to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere. I had never seen such a unique club before, nor had I ever been granted this kind of access. So the whole experience was pretty surreal, and a constant reminder of how fortunate I am just to be here in this country. When we entered the other side of the club I quickly realized that it was the energetic night club. It was darker, smaller and louder than the other side, with leather seats on the right side and the bar on the left side. Fresh courteously introduced me to new people constantly, and it was on this side that I met an attractive Asian girl who spoke English very well. I started talking to her for a while and learned that she studied in Ohio for a few years, aside from being a successful model. I briefly mentioned my story of being in Thailand to teach English and how lame that seemed compared to all the celebrities and models I met throughout the night. When I asked her what kind agencies she modeled for, she listed some unfamiliar companies and then ended with Playboy like it was no big deal. Needless to say I was ecstatic to be talking to any model let alone a Playboy model, so that was a pleasant surprise. 
After chatting her up for a bit I started asking Fresh's friends about the Diplo show that I had heard about earlier that week. There was a poster outside the club of the famous dj, so I had a feeling he was in town, but that his show would probably be on a Friday or Saturday rather than a Thursday night. Much to my astonishment I found out that he was playing at the club that very night! The night kept getting better and better! We made our way back to the chill side of the club to socialize with Fresh's friends and meet some new people until Diplo performed. Fresh's friends were all very sociable and welcoming. These events, I learned, are not only a great way to have fun with friends, but more importantly to network and meet new people. Everyone in our extended group was very nice and worth getting to know. Interestingly enough they all seemed to be of different nationalities. Even the three of us Loyola students represented America, Britain and South Africa. Just to name a few new friends, some of the other people in our group were Mexican, French, Filipino, and of course, Thai. It was fun learning about how these unique people made it to Bangkok through their various work experiences and what they're doing now. I'm sure just by going to one of these events you could meet someone who can connect you to any desirable job. As for the Diplo concert: out of control. So many fantastic remixes that all flowed together seamlessly. We danced on the upper level overlooking the performance. Best spot in the house. What a fantastic night!

Song of the Day: 
Bingo Players - 'Get Up' (Diplo Remix)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Communication Breakdown

  It's not even 10pm and I feel almost too tired to write this blog. What a long day. I only had three classes today, but I walked to the laundromat during lunch to drop off my dress clothes. I'm too impatient and incompetent to clean and iron them myself, so I carried my duffle bag of clothes to a laundromat a few blocks away. It wasn't a far walk, but going anywhere in dress clothes in this heat is exhausting in itself. When I arrived at the laundromat near the end of a narrow alleyway, I struggled to communicate with the women there as I explained my laundry request. The language barrier forced me to talk to the owner of the place on the phone for a bit. I was pressed for time because I had to get back to school as soon as I could. The owner spoke very well on the phone, which made me wonder if he was actually American. After I finished the phone conversation I started walking back down the alley when I unexpectedly met the guy I just spoke to. He looked like he was in his early 30's. I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he went to school at St. Gabriel's. I have to pick up my clothes tomorrow before 6pm, so I hope my request was properly processed!

  Another highlight of my day occurred as soon as I arrived back on campus after the laundry trek. I encountered an administrator who asked me to start tutoring today after school. Like I said before, schedule changes happen frequently here. A few days ago I expressed an interest in tutoring any available students, but I did not expect to be notified on such short notice. But that's how things work around here. The admin put me on the phone with the students' mother who spoke English fairly well. I could tell that she had some previous experience with the language. She wants me to tutor her two sons in writing. Her older son is at the level M2 (8th grade) and the younger son is level P2 (2nd grade). I met the mother after school by the front gate and we walked to a busy store nearby to conduct the tutoring on the vacant second floor. I talked with their mother there for a while so we could learn more about each other. She said that she lived in America for a few years in South Dakota while her husband studied at the university there. She learned English while she was there and became pretty comfortable with the language. But when she moved back to Thailand she quickly forgot much of what she learned. I got the impression that she wants her sons to grow up with a better understanding of the English language than she did, and she knows that a native speaker will be more effective than a Thai teacher. She is extremely nice and gracious that I am helping her sons. I'm happy to teach younger students to get a break from M6 (10th grade), but man was it tough. Aside from throwing together a brief lesson plan short notice, the language barrier was the main issue. It was difficult to get the students to talk because they were shy. I think they also need to improve their vocabulary in order to properly express themselves verbally before we get to writing. I tutored each student for an hour. For M2 we discussed the idea of a future job, writing down ideas and talking about the brainstorming process. For P2 I had them draw animals and write anything about what they drew. The younger ones were extremely shy and quiet. Their mother said that they understand what I teach them, that they are better at listening than writing. It was easy for me to feel discouraged, especially when I looked at the P2 grammar book and saw countless errors. My heart sank when I saw so many mistakes. But I hope that with proper preparation I can teach them more than they can learn in class. As disheartening as I made this tutoring seem, it's mostly because I'm so exhausted. I am really looking forward to building a relationship with this family. I can tell they are very nice people. 

Song of the Day:
  I need something slow to calm me down after such a stressful day. Here's a song from Josh T. Pearson, a great songwriter who made a comical/serious song about himself being compared to Jesus. You'll see. His voice and guitar work are both fantastic. I recommend you listen to this song laying in bed with the lights off, just before going to sleep. It feels good to slow down once in a while. 
Josh T. Pearson - 'Sweetheart, I Ain't Your Christ'

Sunday, June 5, 2011

JJ Market, Crazy Taxi to Route 66

  My Saturday began at 1pm today as I woke up and jumped out of bed to join a group headed for JJ Market. I had no idea what the place was, but I had a feeling it would be worth the trip. I thought to myself that the place would be a simple outdoor street market lined with vendor tent stands. Sometimes it pays off to be wrong! It's difficult to describe the place, but I'll do my best. I'll include a picture in this post. The market was a labyrinth of tent stands and small stores with people selling everything you could possibly imagine. It was an interesting feeling, being lost in hundreds of these little stands, all crammed together to create narrow pathways to walk through. I saw food stands, furniture stores, and pet shops all in the same area. But it was so disorienting that you could walk past a stand you've already seen and not even notice it the second time, or never find the same place again because every time you turn a corner there seems to be no end in sight. It was so tempting to spend all my money when I saw all these cheap trinkets or clothing items. I got caught up in the atmosphere of the place and became astounded by all that the market had to offer. Next time I go back I plan on recording a video to show what it felt like to be lost in there. I ended up buying two dress shirts for 500B. Pretty good deal. 

  Last night I took the craziest cab ride of my life to RCA, a street of huge dance clubs. The cab ride was like being in a video game, so I was on the edge of my seat cheering the whole time while the girls screamed in my ears. As he sped down the road the driver would drive without hands, let the passenger hold the wheel, weave quickly in between cars, and nearly rear-end cars in front before swerving around them. It was equally terrifying and exciting. At one point the driver switched lanes going about 60mph onto an on ramp that curved right. We knew he was taking the turn way too fast and we begged him to slow down. At the last second he sharply yanked the wheel left and swerved away from the ramp, just before the cement lane divider. All of us screamed our lungs out as we held on for dear life. Between screams I was the only one laughing. The entire ride reminded me of the insanity in the video game Crazy Taxi. 

  When we arrived at RCA I was amazed by the club scene. There were at least four clubs lined up next to each other with music blaring and lasers flashing. Each place was absolutely packed with people, both inside and outside. We went to the first club, Route 66, which was more of a mainstream music club than the one next door. We tried to dance inside, but it was too crowded and hot, so we partied outside on the patio connected to the place. When I found myself yearning for more electronic music I ventured with a friend through the inside of Route 66 to the techno room next door. We didn't stay very long, but we cut a rug to some great remixes of Adele and other dance songs while we were there. Over all, it was a great night. The club experience here is unreal. Afrojack will perform there Thursday and Flo-Rida will be there Saturday. Decisions, decisions. 

Songs of the Day:
Flo-Rida feat David Guetta - 'Club Can't Handle Me'

The Wombats - 'Techno Fan' (Afrojack Remix)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 4 & 5: Weekend!

  Schedule changes happen frequently here. It was a tough week. On Thursday I found out that I only teach one class at sixth period. Teachers are required to be in the office at their desk when they do not have class. So I mostly just graded papers and prepared a lesson plan. The grading process usually entails checking for completion and signing my name on the work to verify that I checked it. This way the parents and my co-teacher will know that the students' work has been graded. My lesson plan for that day focused on two pages from a reading workbook. The passage was about marriage customs and how they differ around the world. If you were wondering how I prepared for the lesson, I read the two pages that I planned to teach, then looked at the lesson planner workbook that has all the answers to the questions. The planner workbook includes suggestions for how to teach the material: what questions to ask, possible conversation topics, how much time to allow for the students to read or work, etc. So, I wrote down the answers to the  questions on a sticky note and stuck it to the page I was teaching. Then I would ask the student to read the question and answer it. The sticky note was an easy way to reference the correct answer, although I noticed some inconsistencies between the workbook and the answer book...so I made the necessary corrections. I get an idea of what to teach by communicating with my co-teacher. Depending on who it is, I usually have the option  to teach from the book or from the worksheets that are distributed in class. I prefer the book so I can check my answers. This place operates on verbal communication between faculty. I'm not sure if I said that already. Things change so frequently here that email is too slow and altogether useless compared to word of mouth. 

  This morning I met the nicest Asian man I will ever meet. I will be surprised if I meet someone more kind. Here's the story: I went out this morning to survey the breakfast selection on the street, which usually consists of either fruit, pancakes or iced coffee. I was feeling in the mood for some fresh bananas, so I found a vendor with a bunch of bananas at her cart. I pointed to one of the bananas, implying that I only wanted one single banana and not one bunch. She attempted to fit the entire bunch into a bag while I tried to stop her. Luckily, a well-dressed Asian man came over to help. He spoke English very well, which caught me off-guard. He detached one of the bananas and handed it to me, saying that he'll give it to me. I thanked him, insisting that I pay him for the fruit, but he kindly persisted that it was free. I expressed my gratitude and started my way back toward campus. I was only a block away, but the vendors began to clutter the sidewalk while parents rushed their kids to school. When I was near the gate of the school I felt a hand on my back and turned to see the same man offering a small bag with a bunch of mini bananas inside. He told me that the first banana I chose was not ripe yet, so I should eat the mini bananas now and save the other banana for later. I was really baffled by his kindness this time. I couldn't believe he followed me all the way back to campus for such a small favor. Again he insisted that the bananas were free when I tried to pay him, prompting him again to politely refuse the money. The locals here are extremely nice people, but this man really made the extra effort. I hope to see him again and successfully buy something from him by paying for it. That small interaction, although a simple gesture of kindness, goes a long way. It was a great way to start the day. 
  As for class, I had four classes today, three of them with the same co-teacher. I missed the first class because of an apparent rain delay. It poured for less than an hour, so I didn't think it was anything major. But I guess it slowed things down enough to effect the class schedule. My teaching today consisted of me introducing myself in each class and answering any questions that the students had about myself or America. No notable questions today, but maybe next week. I taught parts of a worksheet with my co-teacher, talking about tenses and asking students to read the sentences with the correct form of the verb. Some classes are much smarter than others, based on the reading and speaking skill. Any native speaker can get a sense of which classes are more experienced by listening to the students. 

  After my last class I had an hour to sit at my desk until school ended, so I spent it talking to one of the Thai teachers who has an outside job as a photographer on the weekends. He gets VIP access to many of the best clubs in Bangkok, taking pictures of the dj's and the crowd; really capturing the atmosphere of the Bangkok nightlife. He has taken some great pictures from what he showed me. What I found most impressive were the other industries that hired him. He took pictures for perfume companies, modeling agencies, DKNY, Men's Health, and Ok! Magazine just to name a few... all demonstrating his excellent work. I hope we can work together to set up interviews with dj's and get some great photos of the events. I'm sure I can learn so much about the nightlife from him, and I am really looking forward to getting a unique experience of Bangkok! Check out his website/blog! Fresh! http://freshfrancisdesign.blogspot.com/

Song of the Day:
A dance song that always get's me pumped: The A-Trak remix of 'Heads Will Roll' by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Fun fact! A-Trak is the brother of another musically talented cool cat who you may know as Chromeo. Yep! Chromeo's funky 80's sound is attributed to the front man, who is A-Trak's (older?) brother. No wonder I saw Chromeo hanging out in a live video of A-Trak performing in someone's back yard. I've also included a mix from A-Trak just to include something you may not be familiar with. 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Heads Will Roll' (A-Trak remix)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 3: The Grind

  Only two classes today. My first class was half the size of an average class here. Not sure why, I think one of the co-teachers said that these students were learning Chinese as well. She was also difficult to understand, so maybe I'll get some clarification on that. Anyway, it was refreshing to have a small class with less noise. My second class was seventh period, with the male teacher. I ended up teaching the entire lesson for about fifty minutes. I had no idea I was teaching the lesson until he announced it to the class, so luckily I had something prepared to talk about from the book. I had them discuss a few short readings about cell phones. Luckily the students actually participated, thanks to the pressure from the male teacher. 

  This just in! First the good news: NEW POGO SONGS! A few songs from Winnie the Pooh. Seems ridiculous, sounds incredible! Everything that Pogo touches turns to gold. I'm seriously losing my mind over how good these songs are. 
  Now the bad news...Pogo was supposed to release his fantastic Pirates of the Caribbean remix along with the unveiling of the film in theaters. He was commissioned by Disney to make the song, but they renounced the contract and prevented Pogo from officially releasing the song on Youtube and his website. However, you can watch a live feed of the Pirates performance on Youtube, but you better hurry before it's gone for good. I've posted the Pirates clip below, which starts at 2:30. I'm so glad that Pogo rebounded from such bad news! Check out these new Hundred Acre remixes!!