Two in Thailand

After raising three children and watching them graduate from college, Bob and Carol decided to leave the educational field and pursue a dream that had been put on hold for 35 years (since graduationg from the University of Northern Iowa). "Two in Thailand" is the journal dedicated to that dream - to serve in the Peace Corps. This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Carol Meets the "Bangkok Dolls" Lady

Carol insisted that we find the place that makes Thailand's famous dolls. We drove down narrow alleys in a taxi trying to locate the "factory". After numerous wrong turns and Bob's attempt at asking directions in Thai, we finally found it. The owner is 90 years old and truly a remarkable person. She started the business nearly fifty years ago and her dolls are sold all over Thailand. She has been visited by Thailand's Queen and some of the princesses. She even has a picture of Pope John Paul II blessing her. She is sharp-witted and has some fluency in English. Carol was impressed by her stories and dedication to the art of doll making and now has a new friend.

Eating Healthy!!!

A dear friend of ours requested that we post more pictures of the food we eat. So this is for Ron. We eat a lot of vegetables. There is no grease on the food we eat. The only additives are soy sauce or oyster sauce. We also

eat a lot of fruit. The street vendors are always selling papaya, mangoes, bananas, and kanoon (jackfruit). The bottom picture shows a closeup of the jackfruit which is the size of a watermelon and grow on trees. When opened, they reveal, thick yellow structures that contain seeds. The vendors remove the seeds and sell the thick sweet morsels for about $1.00 per kilogram. The are immensely sweet!!!! Bob's favorite fruit is kanoon and dragon's eye (gaao mung gaan).

Job Openings: Part 2

Wanted: University professors to teach English.
This sign was created at a university that teaches English.

Job Openings in Bangkok.

Proof reader needed for McDonald's in Bangkok: must have an understanding of the English language.
I'm sure you will agree that you can enjoy McNuggets with your gangs and you should bite your love ones. You may even enjoy "tossing to your mouth" and "exchanging bites".

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Americans are Coming!!!

We were excited when we found out that Peace Corps would loan us 13 trainees from Group 119 for the first day of our 2-day English Camp. Of course, the village was excited too, being that we are the sum total of Americans they have ever seen! We started with a game of Human Bingo which forced the students to fill in a bingo card by reading a question in English that the Peace Corps members had to answer and then sign their names in the box. The students were scared sh**less, but soon warmed up to the friendly smiles exhibited by the trainees. Soon, it was time for a break before heading to 6 different sites that the trainees would perform five 50-minute sessions of an English activity.

Time for the Big Show

This area had never experienced an English camp (although they are quite popular in the more urban areas of Thailand). Education supervisors gathered to witness this historic event: 15 Americans in one village!!! (See top photo.) The Peace Corps trainees led 6 events that Bob and Carol had developed -- ranging from "Spell that Word", "Find the Opposite", "Dictionary Race" to the good old "Telephone Game" where two students are shown whispering an English sentence and continuing it down the line formed by their team of 5 students.

Feeding 140 People

One of the tasks that teachers are expected to do is to facilitate events held at the school. The teachers are expected to cook meals for the 120 students and the 20 "extras". In addition to preparing two meals Friday and two snack breaks, they had to prepare Saturday meals, also. All of this with no "extra pay" because being a teacher in Thailand goes beyond teaching classes!

Saying Goodbye to the Peace Corps Trainees

In the late afternoon of the first day, we had to say goodbye to the trainees. We taught them a song, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and it was lead by a talented trainee who brought his guitar. When we were finished, the 13 Peace Corps trainees shook hands with the students close to the front of the stage and started to leave . The 120 students immediately got up and formed two lines for the trainees to walk through to allow the trainees to shake hands with everyone. By the way, shaking hands is not a custom in Thailand.

Water Balloon Toss - An American Tradition

During the afternoon of the second day, with temperatures in the low 90's, the water balloon toss was a huge success. Bob is seen, trying to get out of the way as he gives the signal to start the next toss. We had prizes for the winning team which was a pair of happy and dry boys.

End of English Camp - Day 2

At the end of English Camp, the scores were tabulated and the four top teams were called to the front of the pavilion. Carol presented each winning team with a basket of treats and school supplies. In true communal society fashion, the winning students began distributing most of the treats to the other 100 students who were observing the ceremony. Many new friendships were made among the students representing the four different schools at the two villages we serve. Many of the students had never been to the other village which is only 12 miles away.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We're in Good Hands

Carol went to the city last Friday and stopped at the ATM. A "helpful" Thai was waiting for her as she turned around, ATM card and money in hand. He took her ATM card and told her that she needed to put it back into the ATM and enter her pin number. Carol told him she wouldn't do that and retrieved her card out of the machine. Five days later, she went to the ATM machine, entered her pin, and the machine said wrong pin number. She went to the teller who informed her that she had no account. Bob looked at the card and said, "Carol this is not your card." Obviously the man she encountered had used a slight-of-hand maneuver and gave her a worthless card. She went into the bank and alerted the security officer shown above! Since he spoke no English he resumed his official duties. The next day, Carol's co-teacher took her back to the bank (30 miles from our village) and she was issued a new card after showing her passport and bank book. Luckily, funds were intact. No harm done. However, if you see a man wearing a straw hat behind you at the ATM, beware!!! We think he alluded the security officer.

Afternoon Activities

On certain days, teaching stops in the afternoon and students go to various sites on the school campus. They might be in the school garden tending the crops or they might be under an awning singing songs or performing traditional Thai dance. The boys in the top picture are harvesting lemon grass. The girls in the second photo are supposed to be singing, but obviously they are more interested in getting their picture taken!