Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Today marks the 84th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is also National Father's Day. Here is a rundown of some Thai website landing pages today. Some I went on for a purpose and others I have been on in the past and I thought would have something interesting to show!
Of course, the first page that opens for me is Google, and here we have the Thai flag.

A Thai website for books...

...and another Thai website for books.

MSN Thailand

Payap University's webpage (my old school)

Chiang Mai University's webpage (the big university here in Chiang Mai)

A Thai cooking website I went on today.

This is something that is frequently done for different holidays here in Thailand, especially those that are connected to the monarchy in some way. Happy Father's Day from Thailand!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

American Thanksgiving...Thai Style

Living overseas can be a little difficult sometimes. Mostly, it is exciting and fun, but when events or holidays happen at home, it can be a little trying. Fortunately for me, I live near a city big enough to cater to whims of foreigners such as myself. This year for Thanksgiving we went to The Duke's - a popular foreigner spot (and therefore not a lot of "Thai style" like in my misleading post title). Every year, actually, they have Thanksgiving dinner. It's a really nice spread that tastes close to home - as close as it possibly can I think. We had butternut squash soup, rolls, caesar salad, and then turkey with all the trimmings - stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a small dish of cranberries. After that we had a choice of apple or pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee. By the end I was pleasantly full - not stuffed - but I did still feel the afternoon effects of the turkey.

It was a really nice dinner and I felt so thankful to be able to enjoy God's blessings in a familiar way, halfway around the world.

The other two volunteer teachers: Austin and Nathan

The delicious dinner

This is a very belated post - but hopefully everyone's Thanksgiving was great! I am still feeling the effects of it, since it's a good reminder to...BE THANKFUL!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lahu Thanksgiving

It's been a few weeks of Lahu cultural events! (And, yes, an American cultural event as well, but that's next post!)

A couple weeks ago I finally went to the village of one of my students. It was such a great opportunity since I told him a couple years ago that I would really try to make it there. Well, I finally did!

We left early in the morning, piling into the back of a pick-up truck that took us a couple hours to the north. The weather was beautiful and sitting back there seeing the mountains and crops pass us by was so beautiful. Thailand is truly a gorgeous place.

The hired truck with some students and a teacher.

We arrived and had a wonderful breakfast (brunch?) and then went to the villages Thanksgiving service. There, several groups got up and sang a song or two, including some of the students, and then there was a message given in Lahu. It isn't until I hear another language other than Thai that I feel like, oh I wish they would speak in Thai, then I would understand a little! I didn't understand but got some translation later.

The oh so delicious food!

Austin, me, Bouy after eating.

In an open area of the village tents were put up and people brought all different kinds of food. After eating we spent some time relaxing indoors - talking and eating snacks.

A couple of the tents set up with food. In the center people are grabbing containers of rice off the table.

One of the long tables of food.

My food.

The view from where we ate.

Eating snacks in Samuey's house.

Samuey pouring some Fanta to drink with our snacks.

Samuey was our host, but I was able to see where another of my students lives, and a former student. It was a great opportunity to see where they are from and meet their families.

Before long, it was time to head back to Chiang Mai - another fun experience under my belt.

Posted by: Aj. Erika

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lahu Wedding

Weddings are truly a cultural experience. Weddings in Thailand - at least those I have been too - are similar to religious ceremonies in the US in that the pastor reads through what is expected of each throughout the marriage. They also talk about it being a union that God instituted. (Of course, this is what I know from my students' translations!). Also, friends of the bride and/or groom sing songs for them. The ceremony is generally really short, depending on the pastor and how long he will talk. They sign the document in front of everyone as witnesses and then the ceremony is over.

After the ceremony there is food! The whole village seems to help and they start cooking long before. They usually kill a pig and a bunch of chickens (I'm thankful for the latter!). They set up large tents and the guests sit and eat. After everyone has eaten the bride and groom go to the groom's village to stay for a few days (I suppose when that is possible). In that village there is another feast.

One thing that has struck me at the four weddings I've been to is that the bride and groom are both very involved in getting everything ready. They often serve the guests food and help clean up. It's a lot of work for them! (Not to say, of course, that their families and others in the village don't put in a lot of time, too!) The couple looks very humble and serving throughout the whole thing. Somehow it seems less like the focus is on them that day than that their focus is on others that day. And serving and working together.

A couple weeks ago one of my former students got married. I went to the wedding with some of the other students here. It was a wonderful time. I was able to meet Surachai's family and his new wife. And I was able to see more of Thailand. We went to the bride's village first, and spent the night. Early the next morning at 8 they had the ceremony. We ate and then hopped in a truck for the drive to the groom's village, which took about 2 hours. After eating again there, we came back to school.

The bride and groom are both Lahu* and are wearing traditional Lahu dress in the pictures below.

The guests.

The bride and groom saying vows (I think!).

The bride and groom with friends (plus another teacher and I).

The view on the way to the groom's village.

* The Lahu are an ethnic group found in many countries in Asia including China, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. In Thailand they are one of the six main hilltribe groups.
Wikipedia - Lahu people article

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feast 2011 - Khun Yuam

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to head up to Khun Yuam, a sleepy town west of Chiang Mai, with some of my students for the Feast of Tabernacles*. I've been there before but never had the chance to explore.

We had many activities, in addition to services and bible study every day, that were really enjoyable. We had a couple sports days out at the field (an old Japanese airstrip from WW2) which included football (soccer), tag, a balloon toss, and badminton. Back at the hotel we played a few rousing games of Bunko and Spoons.

It was an enjoyable time of getting to meet some new people, seeing those from the refugee camps, those from Burma, and hanging out with students. The weather was also great and the setting was so relaxing.
Here are some pictures!
The beautiful view from the hotel.

Some of the Legacy students that went up with us.


Trip to the waterfalls.

Kathree, Haechi, Bpoum, Rumee
(Photo credit: Peto)


Balloon toss



Some of the brethren from the camps
Back row: LayGayToo, SawPoHtoo, SawSeyHtoo, TooMyaShwee, SayNeePaw, Front row: NawDawBleePhaw, SayNeeHtoo, ..., EhKaNehHtoo, SayNeeSay, NayBluHtoo

We had a wonderful time and now we are back into the swing of school! More posts on that to come!

* Leviticus 23:33-44

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Legacy Leader Issue 2

The latest issue of the Legacy Leader hit newsstands today - or students' desks as it were. In this issue, students wrote primarily about places of interest around Chiang Mai. Find out the place to get the best view of Chiang Mai, where to buy almost anything, and a new way to cook an egg!

I hope you enjoy the reading and as usual, if you have feedback or comments for the writers, I can pass it along.

Click here to read Legacy Leader Issue 2 PDF

Click here to download Legacy Leader Issue 2 PDF

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Let the Waters Rise...

There's a Christian song the students like to sing titled "Let the Waters Rise" by Mikeschair. Well, here's an example of just that happening. The waters rose a lot, really fast, last week. Fortunately, now the water levels have gone way down throughout Chiang Mai, but not without some loss of life and a lot of damage. Apparently, Thailand is also preparing for a typhoon to hit the 5th or 6th. So much rain! At the school we have been fortunate and have not experienced the ill effects others have (care to have your car submerged anyone?), but I was admittedly very surprised when I went to the farm to check out the river.

Here is what the river normally looks like from the bridge close to the farm:

And here is what it looked like last Thursday:
Photo credit: Austin

Photo credit: Austin

Here's a picture looking down to the river from the sala a couple years ago:

And here is the view from the sala last Wednesday:

Please keep people in this part of the world in your prayers. Houses are not always structured well, and alert systems aren't honed. People have been swept away, especially as water rushes through the mountains taking those along the river in its path. Also, this flooding effects the rice crops which are a huge source of income for many in the region, as well as a major food source.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Game Afternoon

Okay, so the semester is winding down and classes are all beginning to run into each other. It's a good thing, then, that school ends next Friday and that we got to have a game afternoon this last Wednesday before reviewing and finals! A friend of mine came over to share some activities and hang with the students. I love it when they get to talk to other foreigners so they aren't always hearing the teachers. Of course, everyone was still a bit "shy", but I guess that's to be expected.

One of the games was called Human Scrabble. The students got several letters apiece and had to pool their resources to make a word worth the most points. In the picture, it was teams, boys against girls. I think the boys won that challenge - our team got points by spelling Thai words with the Roman alphabet. That's not really fair!
The girls working on a really good, big word to beat the boys...

...and the boys looking equally intense.

The next activity was a picture relay. Three students (three different teams) looked at a picture and had to explain it (without showing) to a messenger (one per team). The messengers then had to relay the message back to students who drew what the messenger said. In the end they had to explain why their picture was the best.
Fon explaining to Bancha where the people in the photo are standing and how many there are.

Bancha relaying the message to his team.

AhJar relaying information to her team members.

Of course, what event is complete without snacks? It was a nice end to a good afternoon.

And don't let these sunny looking photos deceive you! Shortly after chowing down on the last snack it began to pour...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Introducing the 1st Year Students

The first semester of this school year is winding to a close and I can honestly say that I really like the 1st year class! I enjoy teaching them (I have them for English) and seeing them improve. After all this time, I'm getting an idea what they are like. The class consists of six girls and one boy - and it is a chatty class! Fortunately, a lot of the chatting ends up in English. We have fun joking around.
A few things that I have enjoyed doing with them this year are: learning English songs that they can use to teach children, doing short skits, reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and seeing what they write about when they were young in their journals. I am fortunate this year, also, because the students are at approximately the same level, so I don't have that tension of keeping some students interested while not leaving others behind.

From left to right they are: Kathree, Chanpang, Haechi, Wanlee, Rumee, Praphan (the lone guy!), and Neeranoot

The students this year range in age from 17 to 20. They come from different parts of northern Thailand and some different backgrounds. I haven't had a lot of in depth conversations with students in first year yet, just because the language barrier is still rather high. However, there are some basic traits I notice.

Kathree is quiet but opening up more all the time - I am seeing a hint of a playful streak! She's one of the top students in class and is willing to answer and participate. She is Karen* and from the border.

Chanpang is definitely one to make others laugh. She is also very willing to step out and use the English she knows. She is Lahu** from Thailand.

Haechi also likes to make people laugh and laugh herself. Her level of English has made it possible for her to speak in English a little even from the start of the year. When school first started she would translate for the others, but I am happy to see that she doesn't have to do that much anymore! She is Lahu from Thailand.

Wanlee is the youngest in class but acts older than her age. She is quick to smile and she is very friendly and likes to joke around with the other students. She is Karen from Thailand.

Rumee is quieter, however, she also is willing to answer questions in class and is eager to improve her English. She is one of our two first year students who works on the kitchen crew. She has a quick smile and expressive eyes. She is Lahu from Thailand.

Praphan is the the quietest inside and out of class. However, he is also participating more and more as he gets more comfortable in English. He likes to play football (soccer) with the other guys and plays almost every Sunday afternoon. He is Lahu from Thailand.

Neeranoot is quiet and a little more serious. She likes to answer questions in class or help if someone else doesn't understand. She works with Rumee on the kitchen crew. She is Lahu from Thailand.

All the students enjoy music and singing. Many of them play guitar and can be found every so often strumming a song and singing. A few of the first year girls are taking piano lessons, which is fun for me also. I enjoy seeing their progress and hope they will learn something that they will use and enjoy in the future.

Obviously this doesn't capture everything of who they are, but figuring that out as the year goes on is part of the fun. Each new conversation or journal entry adds a little bit more to the picture of their lives.

* The Karen are an ethnic group that are primarily from south and south-eastern Burma (Myanmar). Some are in refugee camps along the border of Thailand and Burma, while others have made their home in Thailand.
Wikipedia - Karen people article

** The Lahu are an ethnic group found in many countries in Asia including China, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. In Thailand they are one of the six main hilltribe groups. According to Wikipedia Minnesota (my home state) is one of three states in the US where Lahu people are likely to reside.
Wikipedia - Lahu people article

Posted by:
Aj. Erika

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Legacy Leader Issue 1

I teach several classes, one of which is Journalism. The students in Journalism write articles and then edit their's and those of the students in second year English. They put the articles in Microsoft Publisher, take and insert photos, and do the layout for our Legacy Leader. I don't edit the Legacy Leader but I do give them general comments on things to look for when they do their own edits. It's a balance that I am still working on mastering.

You can read the Legacy Leader online by clicking the following link. I'd be interested to know what you think and if you have any feedback about articles. Is there something they could tell you about Thailand that you are curious to know? Just leave me a comment or send me an email!

Click here to read Legacy Leader Issue 1 PDF

Click here to download Legacy Leader Issue 1 PDF

Posted by: Aj Erika

Monday, September 5, 2011

Football in the Rain

This evening I drove into the parking lot of the local university with the idea that I'd quickly snap some pictures for the blog, watch some of the match, and get back to school. Just as I was pulling in, large drops fell from an almost sunny sky. Instead of getting good pictures, I spent most of my time peeking around the branches of a tree in my efforts to stay dry. After four years in Thailand I still can't predict the weather within even 5 seconds!

Part of the tree that kept me from getting soaked!

Although it was raining and my view was obstructed, I was still able to enjoy watching the guys play. The past few weekends the majority of the boys have been playing against other teams in short matches.

The guys seem to be playing really well and its nice they have the outlet. The picture below is just before one of the Legacy goals. (Legacy boys are in the red and black stripes.)

Hmm, do I see a 2nd Annual Legacy Cup in our future?

(Posted by: Aj. Erika)