For today’s blog post I want to talk a little about my desire for cultural experiences and how working at Wat Khuang Sing is slowly fulfilling them. It’s been great, but the cultural experiences are happening just a little differently than how I’d imagined.
Friday July 7th was the start of Buddhist Lent here in Thailand. To commemorate the holiday, my school had a procession and ceremony at the temple next door. We had heard throughout the week that Friday was not going to be a normal day, but we weren’t sure until Friday as to how we were going to be involved in it. The Vice Principal of our school approached us as lunch on Thursday and asked Sarena and me what our teaching schedule looked like on Fridays. We told her that we each only teach one class in the morning, but were more than excited to stick around to observe the ceremony after school.
Around 3PM the procession started and Sarena and I watched from the back. We did not expect to do anything but observe until we were lovingly pulled to the front row by some of our favorite teachers. They wanted us to march in the parade AND carry alms! We walked for about 20 minutes (definitely the LONG route to the temple next door), until we were again lovingly dragged to the front of all the children. They wanted us to participate fully in one of their most religious, cultural events. There wasn’t a moment where we felt lost though. While the language being spoken wasn’t our own or the display of religion wasn’t something we were familiar with, the teachers translated all along the way. Words were chanted, monks spoke, teachers delivered baskets to each of the monks, and OF COURSE so many pictures were taken. My back and feet and smile hurt from all the laughing and kneeling but I couldn’t have cared less.
In the end, it was so nice to be included in this incredible event put on by our school. I take for granted every day I have here until I experience moments like this. As a Comparative Cultures and Politics major, it’s the cultural immersions that I came here for. I wanted the change in pace, religion, culture, values, and overall difference than what I’ve had in America for the past 21 years. I spend so much time in university looking over case studies about the world that I tend to lose perspective that my studies are just representations of real life. Every case study in every class has real people they’re about.
I’m so out of my comfort zone here, but there’s something so comforting about that. I walk into class most days expecting it to be horrible, but leave school every day with the biggest smile on my face. Each class has their own personality and specialty and now in one of my last weeks I’m learning how to use that to my advantage. P4 loves to dance, P5 has a thing for the game Hangman, P6 specializes in impromptu karaoke, but one thing I know they all have in common is that they LOVE to color.
Anyways, Annie Out.