Sunday, February 6, 2011

1-28-11 Third Week Impressions

I found coffee (gaffey) without cream and sugar already mixed in! A huge accomplishment. It is instant, but pretty good and BLACK!
The weeks are flying by and I am sure my Thai will be dismal in the end. However I am gaining confidence as we visit various Thai officials and interview them. Everyone is so friendly and open to talking to us. Of course having our ajaan is an asset! I am feeling like the training is very good but that it will not be enough. We had an oral language test and it was a killer! I will definitely have a tutor once I am at site.
This week we visited a school and saw the opening of the day. They recited the national pledge while the flag was raised, sang a Thai patriotic song, meditated, prayed, exercised, listened to announcements, and were ready in mind, body, and spirit to start their day. Very impressive. Students help with all school chores and are very attentive. They wear uniforms and are soooo cute! One little boy had a traditional Thai haircut (one section on top long) as opposed to the short cuts the other boys have. It means his family is asking for a blessing for him and he most likely has a health issue. The other kids just accept his difference. Over 90% of Thais are Buddhists and many mix in animism such as the boy’s haircut and the spirit houses everywhere.
We also visited an oo paa daa (again my spelling) which is an adult school for those who didn’t finish high school and/or for occupational training. There was a job fare and the adult students were cutting kids’ hair, helping them make crafts, and cooking some traditional Thai food, always delicious! We also visited the anami (health clinic). Each tambon (cluster of villages) has one or two staffed by a doctor and a nurse. There may also be a midwife and traditional healers, and there is a volunteer health group that assists with the public health promotion and visits sick people in the community. We saw an exercise class that focused on meditation. It was a clinic day with visiting healthcare providers on hand to give physicals. All services are free. There is also a hospital in the community which is also free. Seems like the USA could learn a lesson here! A PCT was sick and experienced the health volunteers first hand. We also attended the local tambon’s annual meeting where all the local officials gather to talk about local issues and begin planning for the new year. The official government uniform for such occasions looks very much like a military uniform. We are always welcomed and brought up front so everyone can see us. I think the community is getting used to all us farangs, you can’t go anywhere without seeing one of us biking.

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