One of our fantastic expert advisers, Rob, taught in Thailand for nearly two years. After returning back he loved TEFLing so much he decided to get a job working for i-to-i; so it only seems apt for him to share his amazing experiences with you! One of the things he really enjoyed was a fun-filled Christmas in Thailand, and seeing how the experience compared to festivities in the UK. Interested? Take a read!
So, in the few days building up to Christmas in Suwannaphum (North-Eastern Thailand) you wouldn’t really have known it was happening. In one respect this was kind of refreshing; the previous Christmas I was TEFLing in Bangkok and this was even more commercial and mind blowingly expensive than you can imagine. Suwannaphum was the polar opposite to this though. No Christmas songs. No Christmas food. No Christmas presents!
Despite my Ebenezer Scrooge persona in the build-up, it did seem a little strange that were it not for the calendar stating it was December, it felt like any other time of year. It came as a bit of a shock on the 23rd of the month then, when I was approached by the unofficial head of English, Ajarn Piyaporn who told me I needed a Santa costume and that I’d be ‘writing and directing’ the SWP Christmas Show… unfortunately I wasn’t able to protest or moan about this surprise given the lack of preparation time I had and so I set about recruiting kids who were eager to sing and dance and generally do the kind of things which as students in Britain, we often do our best to duck out of.
I got off to a good start by recruiting one of the top year 7 English students who I was teaching English to (who had a rather rude nickname) and a year 11 girl named ‘Aii’ who, through virtue of having a Canadian father happened to have a perfect grasp of both Thai and English as well as an accent straight out of Canada. These guys would be presenting the show for me whilst I careered round the school making sure the stage and decorations were all being taken care of. I basically let these guys take control of things and convinced my other ‘farang’ colleagues to fine tune some of the events for me – I gave them a rundown of events in the show and let them present it as they wanted. There was a quiz, some Christmas carols, a few sketches and even a beauty contest for our teachers, but all of this was done through masterful delegation.
The next problem was getting my hands on a Santa costume. After compiling a list of ‘Santa traits’ I concluded that aside from my stomach and red face, Santa and I had very little in common! I walked the tried and tested path of sticking a beard together out of cotton wool and sellotape then begrudgingly cut open a long sleeved red polo-shirt I’d just bought to make a jacket. The hat came via a 100km round motorbike trip to Tesco Lotus in the closest city but this got me an afternoon off school so I can hardly complain.
The day itself was brilliant. I’m not going to lie and say I felt completely at ease dressed like a clown and sweating bullets on stage but I did have a proper laugh… I got to sing some Christmas carols, throw some sweets around the school and I even got to judge the teachers Beauty Contest with some other guys!
Once the shenanigans had died down all of our lessons were cancelled for the day so students could prepare for the following weeks ‘sport’s week’ where we spent every single day outside, relaxing, watching sports, presenting trophies and hanging out and getting to know other teachers from different departments .
Christmas night of course was filled with a shoddy dinner (chicken and potatoes was all we could find!), plenty of carols and a trolley full of booze. Some traditions never change…