It was Teacher Appreciation Day here, and dude, it’s totally different in Thailand than at home!  They made flower arrangements in bowls with four-petaled red flowers that mean cleverness, a particular grass that represents patience, and eggplant flowers for kindness.  All the arrangements were judged (I helped judge!  Also, I found out that the ones with candles [for light/enlightenment] and incense [to show respect] sticking up from the center of them were from the male students.  Thailand can be kind of direct about things like that) then taken to the assembly.  The teachers all sat up in the front and there was prayer and chanting, much wai-ing and respect given.  Then the Tan Nopharat went over to the shrine in the corner and gave respect, came and sat down again, and a procession of sorts made up of two representatives of each class began approaching the shrine then the teachers with their flower arrangements.  A boy and girl from each class would crouch-walk up from the students with the bowl of flowers and then give respect at the shrine.  Then they’d shuffle over to a pair of teachers, set the flowers down a little to the sides, wai to the floor (that’s why the flowers went off to the sides a bit, so they could wai all the way down) twice, if I remember correctly, then present the flowers to the teachers.  Every teacher got some flowers, and it was a nice ceremony.  I think there was a slideshow going on the screen behind us to keep the kids who weren’t processing much entertained a little. 
Smile, during the ceremony I wished I was a film student, or that I could lure a film student here to make a quick documentary about these cool cultural differences!  I wonder if the film department anywhere would support their students going abroad to look at the differences between schooling in the US and schooling in Thailand!  I couldn’t offer much besides entree into a school and a place to stay, but that would be such a cool project!

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    These are the personal opinions of Spook, and do not reflect those of the Peace Corps.


    January 2014