Sunday, August 16
Saturday, August 15
Thursday, July 19
**These are strictly my personal--and yes, limited, experiences as I work to repatriate myself...
- When asked if you can borrow their phone, 100% of strangers will say yes.
- When you hold the door for someone, 100% of people will make eye contact and thank you.
- There is no substitute for family and a strong sense of community---and both of those things are everywhere if you just open your eyes.
- When greeted with a smile, 100% of people will return the gesture.
- 50% of strangers don't know where Bangkok is.
- The security lines at airports are ridiculously long and seemingly inefficient.
- There are a frightening number of obese children.
- Despite being the fattest nation in the world, summer in the North brings out the activity in people--and it's contagious.
- People put more value in a dog-shit-free lawn then in a plastic-free Earth.
- The staff at the LIRR are generally unhelpful.
- There is an under-usage of fans and an over-usage of air conditioning.
- Many people have a garden, compost, recycle, and/or use re-usable bags.
- There are a frightening number of parents who don't know the first thing about discipline.
- There seem to be jobs.
- Water fountains are amazing. Tap water is amazing. People take both for granted regularly.
- 80% of strangers don't know what language is spoken in Thailand.
- Everything is big--people, houses, boats, cars, roads.
- Just because you might look the same, doesn't mean you're immune to feeling like a foreigner.
- There are WAY too many TV channels.
Monday, July 16
Step 2: Watch as she flourishes in the newness of it all...and then, four years later, watch her squirm in the absence of nature, fresh air and space.
Step 3: Stand back as she takes a much anticipated trip to revisit New Zealand.
Step 4: Read as she dramatically squeals (and writes) in delight!
I sit with a childish grin plastered to my face. Snow-capped mountains to the right, green plains to the left--and, an overwhelming "ahhh" feeling of returning to a place I love. I haven't even stepped out of the plane and my heart is racing--almost as if it knows it has finally been reconnected with a few lost pieces that were left behind six years before.
Days later, as I drive along SH1 from Christchurch to Picton, my heart pounds with excitement. Although the pre-dawn darkness prevents me from seeing the beauty around me, something inside of me feels in. As the deep blue, morning sky slowly lightens, its as if layers of scenery are being slowly revealed as I drive--each turn seemingly more beautiful than the last. Even this must-have-music-blasting-while-driving girl reaches for the dial--this kind of nature demands silence and I have no problem obliging.
The green, sheep-covered hills suddenly roll into the rocks of the Kaikora coast. With the mountains on my left shoulder and the waves crashing on my right, I again laugh to myself. "Seriously?!?! Is this place real?!" As I drive, the rocks along the coast come to life with the movement of the seal colonies. I pull to the side just to take it all in for a while. I still haven't stopped grinning. Part of me feared returning here---afraid, perhaps, to discover that my memory had exaggerated the scenery. I didn't want the return trip to remove NZ from it's pedestal! But, there was no such exaggeration. This place really is THAT amazing! No picture or writing could do it justice. It must be seen and felt---and, it's freakin' good to be back!!!
Monday, February 6
Fresh air will be coming in the form of a beach getaway this weekend followed by a long-awaited return trip to New Zealand this summer. (But, not before Big Bro and Cimock get a taste for this wonderful little place called Thailand. That's right folks---Big Bro has got tickets to Asia. Who would have thought?!)
Monday, October 31
Six hours and a world away from the current struggles of Bangkok, I allow the beach life to consume me. Just hours before, I was amongst the water, the people, the loss—the reality that has engulfed so many Thai lives—so many Bangkokians. I felt connected in those moments—connected to the severity of the loss and destruction, and connected to the depth of the Thai spirit. That unwavering “mai pen rai” that guides them to smile, to laugh, to remain calm in the face of danger, sadness, and destruction. Just hours before, I was going to it. going to the flood, to the sandhills, to the shelters—and, as I boarded the Laem Ngop bound bus, I couldn’t fight the feeling that I was now running from it. Running from the city that I call home, running from Gat, my neighbor who, only days before, had assured me “mai dong glooa—don’t be scared, I’ll make you food and paddle it over in a boat if the floods come.” Running from the people that have become a part of my everyday life. But, as the uncertainties in Bangkok grew with each long day, I knew that, for my own sanity, I had to get away. Partly because my one week holiday had unexpectantly been extended by two weeks after a Ministry of Education emergency meeting, partly because I knew my family wouldn’t have peace of mind with me living amongst the chaos that Bangkok has, once again, become, and, partly because my own selfishness didn’t want to have another sleepless night of waiting. Waiting for whatever it was that was going to happen. Waiting to see if my small flood supply of food and water would prove me over prepared or under prepared. Waiting to see if the sandbag walls would hold. Just…Waiting.
Far from Bangkok, far from the empty grocery shelves, the lagging water supply, far from the fear of having even another drop of rain and far from the news that most people in Bangkok have allowed to run their lives, the serenity has finally started to calm my worried mind and heavy heart. I’ve allowed myself to tune out a little, knowing that there isn’t much I can do from here and knowing that a bit of serenity can go a long way. I’ve already fallen into a great beach life routine and, the (very) basic hut that I was hesitant to go into on the first night, has become a bit of a haven for me. It’s the simple life that always takes a little getting used to but, once in place, fuels something in me that I can’t quite explain. I love waking with the sun, sweeping my hut and hand washing my pillowcase (this makes the very basic hut smell a little less so when I lay my head down at night!) before taking off on an early morning swim. Like clockwork, Arisa, the little Cambodian baby that I have come to love already (shocking!), greets me right after my swim and just before her morning feeding. I get lots of smiles and cuddles while mom finishes some chores around the huts. The morning passes peacefully with lots of reading, reflecting, meditating, and writing---all with the sound of the waves in my ear. By the time midday arrives, I join my friends, who are staying less than 20 paces up the beach, and I get lost in their company for the rest of the day and night. It’s all a bit perfect, really—and offers a sharp contradiction to the way things are in Bangkok. Things are far from perfect there, and, although I have allowed myself a bit of peace and serenity here, a big part of my heart is still there. Fighting with them, hoping with them, urging them to hold on. This too shall pass and when it does, I know this country will pull together to pick up the broken pieces that remain after the waters have swept away too much.
Sunday, October 2
The last few weeks in room 117 have been fantastic. We sing, we dance, we cry, we laugh, we explore, we ask, and we seek to answer....we are becoming a great little family. Having only 10 students means lots of time and space for hands on activities. But, perhaps it's best hearing it...
From the 1st graders!!
Miss J always tells us "fun but not crazy" but I think sometimes she forgets. Especially during "Monday Dance"---she let's us all go a bit crazy then. Even she does the "Monday dance" with us and she sure looks crazy! Her memory is really bad so she always asks us to remind her of things. What would she do without us? We have to remind her to change the jobs list everyday. We have to remind her how to add and subtract and sometimes she even forgets that when you write names or special nouns, you have to use a capital letter. And she's always forgetting to use punctuation when she writes sentences! Who's the teacher here anyways? Crazy Miss J.
We love looking at our tadpoles! One person gets to help Miss J feed them everyday. "LOOK AT THAT ONE! That one has front legs!! Miss J! Miss J! Look at that one! He looks like a frog already!!" We learned about the life cycle of frogs in Science class and then we learned how to take care of our tadpoles by using Google. Did you know that if we don't feed our tadpoles, they will EAT EACH OTHER?!?! We really love Science class! Oh! And, on Thursday, we're going to the Zoo!! We are going on a mammal/reptile/amphibian/insect/fish hunt!
Our Special Country for International Culture Day is New Zealand. Miss J used to live there and "I FOUND IT, IT"S HERE!!! Look...I found it on the globe!! Miss J, Looook. It's here!". Now we have so many stickers on our world map and globe!! America, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand and now, NEW ZEALAND! And tomorrow we are reading a story about the Arctic and Miss J said we have to find out where the Arctic is for homework. I think the Arctic is in Miss J's home.
Did you read our story?! We wrote a story! First, we had to Brainstorm and think about what we wanted to write about. We did a vote---and decided to write about the Ballroom! We brainstormed some more and made a Sloppy Copy of it and tried to make it better and Make It Shine! Then we Fixed It by adding capital letters and punctuation. We wrote it again in good handwriting and drew pictures to go with it. Then, we signed our name and Miss J published it! We get to take turns taking it home and reading it with our parents. I think my page is the best!! You should read it because we wrote it ourselves and it's really good!!
1st grade isn't always fun though. We have to work hard and sometimes we get so tired of thinking and writing. Miss J says "do your best work", even when we are writing on the board or drawing a picture. Sometimes people do it better then us, but if it's our best, it's okay. When we don't do our best work, or when we aren't listening or doing the "right thing", it means we don't earn time to play in the ballroom. In Kindergarten, we always got to play in the ballroom but Miss J says now that we are older, we have to earn it. I think that we should go to the ballroom everyday!! We also have lots of homework to take home in our F.R.O.G.S folders everyday. Our folders help us have re (clap) spons (clap) i (clap) bil (clap) i (clap) ty (clap). We are getting better at that. We are getting better at lots of things. And Miss J says we help her get better at things too. So, maybe it's good that we are all together in first grade!
post shaving-cream-writing (thanks for all that shaving cream Jose!)
checking out the tadpoles
on the path to becoming great little presenters!