What can I say? I couldn’t ask to work at a better place! I love my school. Not only the kids are awesome (yes, they are naughty, but how very cute!) but also the teachers and the administration are all great. Being the only farang (foreigner) is not always easy. Sometimes I feel isolated, but most of the time everyone is really trying to make me feel welcome. Last night was no exception. Our school had its annual New Year’s party and I had so much fun, and I am still buzzing with the positive vibe I experienced there.
From the moment we got back to school this Monday everyone was talking about the upcoming Friday’s party. I wasn’t that keen on going, especially that I had had too much partying a week before, but I had decided to attend the event just to see the other teachers at play.
I think the most excited about the whole thing was Ajarn T. ‘Oh Joanna’ he would say to me every day ‘we dance and we drink, and we give presents. Sanook!’ I laughed at this. Despite being 60 Ajarn T. parties just as much as I do, or even more. He was also excited about the show we were going to prepare. No Thai event would be complete without its entertainment section. There needs to be at least 20 minutes of someone dancing, or singing and the more ridiculous it is the better.
Under a very strict command of Ajarn T. (‘Joanna, move your hips more!’) we prepared a short choreography and two songs. Highlight of our show was Ajarn B. dressed as a white woman (Anna from Canada) and lip singing to a song about coming to Thailand. There was a lot of fuss about how Ajarn B. should look like and what make up he should have. Finally, Ajarn B. agreed to wear a pink flowery dress, tights and big boobs made out of balloons.
We practised our dance for 3 days straight. It wasn’t anything difficult, but Ajarn T. was determined to make it as perfect as possible.
On the day a small stage was put in the main area of the school. Round dining tables were spread out and exactly at 4pm, when the students go home, someone put the karaoke on and started singing. A beer bar was rolled in and the beer started flowing freely. Ajarn B was preparing for the show, putting make up on and rehearsing one more time. Ajarn T. was running around with a jug of beer from which he was pouring himself a drink every few minutes. The other teachers were going in and out of the room, checking the time and looking more than excited about the upcoming fun.
This is a short video of Ajarn B. I really love the randomness of this – Ajarn B. singing, another teacher walking in a party hat, another one dancing on the other side of the cupboard, and Ajarn T. looking in the mirror. And all seems so casual. It makes me laugh every time I watch it.
Video – rehearsal
Ajarn B. in all his glory
The party started at around 6 and our show was first. Luckily I don’t have a video of this. Although I didn’t really want to dance on stage, at the end of it I had a ball. One thing I learn here in Thailand is to not be ashamed of making a fool out of yourself. No one will judge you for it and they will appreciate that you want to have fun.
After we were done with the show we sat down to eat and drink. During the dinner other teachers were performing, there was a raffle and secret Santa.
Video – the beginning of the party
Ajarn B. being interviewed on stage
I sat between Ajarn T. and Ajarn M. – a tiny, young teacher that joined our school just a few weeks ago. ‘Look’ she said to me, pointing at a large woman dancing on the stage ‘she fat. She have nice face, but she fat’. I started laughing. The way how people in Thailand talk about others without any embarrassment still amazes me. At one point the dancer lifted her hands up and Ajarn M. leaned to me and said ‘Her hands like loaves’ and giggled for a couple of minutes.
Ajarn T. was getting drunker and drunker. He looked at the Director, who was going around the tables, wishing everyone a happy new year. He turned to me, pointed at the Director with his eyes, made a disgusted face, then turned to the table, stuck a fork in a piece of chicken and exclaimed ‘no’ and left the table. It was such a bizarre and random thing to do, but so typical for him that it didn’t even surprise me too much.
He was gone for a couple of minutes. The karaoke started and one of the teachers was killing a Thai song with a very high pitched voice. It turns out that during Thai parties there is no music and you only dance to karaoke sang by the guests, which is fun anyway, especially after you drink a few.
I could see Ajarn T. hovering around the singer. He came back, sat down and looked very unhappy. ‘Are you ok?’ I asked. ‘Yes’ he replied ‘but I want to sing. He..’ he pointed at the singing teacher ‘He only sing all the time. He hold the microphone and don’t give to anyone.’ I could only put my arm around him and say that it was going to be ok. Poor Ajarn T.
At the end he got his 5 minutes.
Video – Ajarn T. singing. Not a great quality, but you get the drift.
At around 9pm the party was at full swing. I danced with the others to some Thai songs I knew, I drank with almost everyone and tried to talk to a few people. I was even asked to dance (in a very gentlemanly fashion, that you don’t encounter any more) by a 23-year old teacher, who then spent almost whole evening with me. Ajarn T. was very excited as he is trying to find me a boyfriend. I was then asked to dance by another young, hunky teacher, and to top of it all the PE Teacher told me he loved me.
I left the party just after they put the lights on. I was exhausted, a little bit drunk and so happy. I sometimes have days when I don’t really want to go to work, and I don’t really want to teach, but parties like that, when you realise what great people you work with, reward you for all your struggles.
From me and from my whole crew at school I wish you a very Happy New Year.