On my first day teaching at Triamudomsuksa Pattanakarn I met a woman in the teachers lounge who spoke very little English. We were able to understand that she wanted her children to be tutored after school every day of the week and on weekends. Normally, I would be like, “woah, lady! I need a day to recharge myself and relax!” But I just couldn’t say no to this sweet woman. Also, I didn’t really know what I signed up for.
Every day after school, we meet at a tiny bakery right next to my apartment and have a conversation only in English (duh. I can’t speak Thai). I help with grammar, conjugating verbs, pronunciation, and vocabulary. I’ve tutored the oldest daughter, the middle daughter, and the youngest son. Occasionally, the mother will sit in and listen and practice under her breath. We do this for about two hours. They pay me hourly and then shower me with gifts of coffee, fruit, dinner, etc. Thai’s LOVE to eat. Giving people food and making sure they’re full, very full, is how Thai people show their love.
This weekend, I tutored first thing Sunday morning. We did about two hours of how to properly use “-ing” in a sentence and talked about what Nut (the oldest daughter) did at the Chatuchak market the day before. Just when I thought I was going to go home and catch up on my laundry, I was told we were going to a restaurant by the river to eat Som Tum – a famous Thai dish. Not only did we eat Som Tum, we ate EVERYTHING on the menu. It was spicy, flavorful, and to die for. So incredibly delicious. The view wasn’t bad either! 😉
After we ate lunch, they wanted to take me to a famous temple to be blessed by a Monk. As we were driving there, they took me across the newest bridge in Nonthaburi. Unlike any bridge in the Bay Area, people will stop their cars in the middle of the road to get out and take pictures. I felt like such a rebel!
At the temple, we lit incense, made wishes for healthy lives, and were blessed privately by a Monk. As we were leaving the temple, I was handed a religious charm-like token by the father. He said, “this is for you from my family.” It melted my heart. After the temple, we were off to eat more food with extended family.
I don’t know how the Thai people stay so small. We ate every 45 minutes. Big meals, too! Meeting the extended family was very fun, more difficult than I expected, though. They spoke even less English than the family I tutor.
On our way back to my apartment, the family was asking me questions about how long I’ll be in Thailand, what my favorite part of Thailand has been, and what California is like. Then the car got quiet and the mother started speaking in Thai to Nut but emphasizing, “Tell Teacha………….” Finally, Nut translated the best she could and said, “If you miss your family, call me. We will come get you wherever you are because you are my family.”