Although Thailand is a tourist destination, the villages PCVs work in tend to be remote and many of the villagers have seen very few if any Americans. And even though half of our group is not here to teach there will be the expectation that we are here to teach English. Most PCVs end up spending at least some of their time in a school or running an English Club. So to prepare for that eventuality, we are all teaching English this week. My group had girls aged 7 to 14 with a diverse ability to speak English. They were adorable! We taught introductions, following directions, and asking for help using lots of props, games and pictures. I think they had fun and we certainly learned a lot about teaching English as a foreign language. Keep it simple, be consistent, speak clearly and slowly, and most importantly, have fun.
We had a cross cultural session on gender differences and issues we will encounter at site. The men will for the most part be expected to drink, it will be OK if they smoke (although not good role models for Thai boys), and they will have much more independence than the women. Young women drink very occasionally and mostly at social gatherings, don’t smoke, and tend to do the chores around the house. Men and women do not show affection in public and do not touch each other. You will be the talk of the village if your friend of the opposite sex visits and you hug. It will be assumed you have a fan – a boy/girl friend. Once women hit about 45 all bets are off and they have much more freedom. At my age it is unlikely that someone will want to set me up with a Thai boyfriend and I have more liberty to drink (although as a PCV moderation is important to maintain a high status in the community). A group of us older women decided to buy a wine cooler on a Saturday afternoon. We got to the store, found what we wanted and were so excited to have a relaxing day ahead of us. I wish I had a photo of our faces when the clerk informed us that alcohol cannot be sold between 2:00 and 5:00 pm! It was about 2:30…we settled for green tea (and still had a nice chat).
On the way to school one morning, a large truck was stopped on the side of the road. Thais were herding ducks and geese out the truck onto the field. There were 100s. Their job is to eat small snails that damage the rice. Going home at 5:00 pm, those ducks were still there. All week we have seen them traveling from field to field with their handlers spending the night in make shift tents right there with them.
Half way through training!!