|I... am... happy!!! Yay!!!|
Back at the language school, with less than two hours to go before my first interactions with the kiddies, I was informed by my boss that the shoelace-like substance in my bun was in fact, pork. My boss, to his credit, managed to stifle his laughter as he explained to the long term vegetarian that Thai people are not especially fond of plain things and often put meat in the center of the bun to add a little flavour.
Craig, who was also in the office, listened to our conversation with a smirk on his face and kindly offered to take me out to dinner to P’roons. He knew the owners there and was sure they could cook me something delicious and pork free. Craig's favor meant the world to me. Knowing where my next meal was coming from enabled me to ignore the gnawing ache of hunger that was eating away at my stomach's burnt-out remains, and focus on the lesson I was about to observe. I was thankful for the noise from the arriving students drifting up the stairs, because it just managed to override the hungry, looping growls from my stomach.
We quickly headed downstairs to greet the students. There were 5 of us teaching at the language school, Craig, Ira, Bonnie, Jamie (fellow Canadian!) and I. I was supposed to be taking over my boss's class so he could focus more on management duties.
We stepped out of the office and into the heat wave of the hallway. I knew I was only observing today, but I was still nervous to meet my future students. When I get nervous, I become a middle aged construction worker, I begin to sweat and fart uncontrollably. I also get sudden and undeniable urges to poo. I figure this is my body’s way of removing me from a situation that my brain has deemed too stressful. However, the spicy gruel of this morning’s breakfast thwarted my body's carefully constructed plan because I was pretty sure that I had already let go of everything that was (or had ever been) inside me. So, even when my brain tried to tell me I needed to poo, I could over ride this order, secure in the knowledge that my stomach’s contents had been effectively evacuated this morning.
We turned the corner in the staircase and there they were. About 40 students stopped dead from the games they were playing and stared up the stairwell. It took about 10 seconds before they erupted. They each began shouting their individual teacher’s name and gathered at the bottom of the stairs in a mob with hands outstretched. Ira was the first to dive into the fray. He received a group hug from about 5 students. Then he leaned back and face up at the ceiling he shouted “How are you?!” A sing song chorus of students shouted back, “ I am happy!! Yay!!!” Then things settled down, as the majority of students resumed their games and began watching cartoons on T.V again.
Two beautiful pre- teen girls approached me and shyly asked my name. “My name is Victoria.” “Ahhh,” they answered, “Wicdoria.” “What are your names?” I asked. “My name is Pim “ the young lady on the right answered. Then the on the left perked up and responded, “My name is Oum.” “Nice to meet you” I said. They chorused back at me “Nice to meet you too!” then they drifted off to the corner of the lobby, presumably to discuss if the new teacher had passed the test.
Just from looking around the lobby it was easy to tell that everyone has a distinctive teaching style. My boss and Jamie were the perfect mix of disciplinarian and clown. They goofed with the kids, playfully bopping the younger students on the bottom and picking them up and tossing them to the ceiling, while occasionally shouting at the older ones to stop roughhousing.
Ira was just a goofball. He was engaged in a wrestling match with four of the students and I could see his smile beaming from under the doggy pile. Craig was a mellow teacher, he was sitting on a bench with the older students watching T.V with them and sharing a snack that looked like long, yellow shoelaces. (I was getting concerned about this fascination with shoelaces and cuisine.) Bonnie was a comforting, motherly teacher. She sat down on the floor with the more relaxed little ones and I smiled as I saw one of them lean their head on her shoulder and the other put her hand on Bonnie’s knee.
Just then, my new boss paused the television and bellowed “Line up, Please!” All the students rushed to the staircase and lined up in front of their respective teachers. Game on.