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Anti-Drug Day

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

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A Culture of Fear

Peace Corps Thailand Magazine

IMG_1991Clarence Say, 129 TESS

All quotes in italics are taken from The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer.

As a student, I was in too many classrooms riddled with fear, the fear that leads many children, born with a love of learning, to hate the idea of school. As a teacher, I am at my worst when fear takes the lead in me, whether that means teaching in fear of my students or manipulating their fears of me.

When I first started teaching in the classroom, the best piece of advice others could give me at the time concerning classroom management was a serious joke, “don’t smile until Christmas.”

Every teacher I approached gave me the “you’re not here to be the student’s friend” speech. On the front lines of that message was my Classroom Management Professor, I’ll call him CMP for short. He was in charge of instructing…

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On Fear…

From grade school on, education is a fearful enterprise. As a student, I was in too many classrooms riddled with fear, the fear that leads many children, born with a love of learning, to hate the idea of school. As a teacher, I am at my worst when fear takes the lead in me, whether that means teaching in fear of my students or manipulating their fears of me.

– Parker Palmer

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Being Brave

Being in Thailand has been a challenge.

The community in which I live is so different from what I am used to, with its bucket showers and squat toilets, loud calls to prayer from the mosque, tiny children driving motorcycles, students in classrooms with no supervision, lady boys that hoot and holler as you bike by, but I have learned to love the strangeness and the painful awkwardness of it all. I have learned to lean into my fear and search for the courage to carry on. I have learned to stop always trying to control the things around me and to instead, become a living, breathing part of the present moment. There is so much out there that I don’t understand, and, to be honest, a lot of it scares me. But I’ve come to realize that being afraid is the first step towards being brave – or at least learning how to be brave.

I have also come to realize that even though I may not be perfect, I am still worthy and always have something to give, to offer.

Imperfection is the fuel that keeps us striving for something more – a better, brighter future, not only for ourselves, but for everyone around us. Knowing that I have so much more to learn from the world and from others makes me gaze out at the unknown with a curiosity and wonder that I refuse to let fade. There is a light that shines, I think, in all of us that must not be allowed to go out, and so, I am here to continue to stoke the flame. My goal, my mission in life is to help make school more than just about learning, but about experiencing a relationship between conscious individuals that care about what it means to be human, to ride the ups and downs of life with a smile and an open heart.

And that, I’ve learned, is the real challenge.

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First Day of School

…and Ramadan.

I’ve decided to fast this year, which took some of the members in my community by surprise. A good kind of surprise though. My counterpart in particular thought that maybe I was joking at first. Took him a moment, but once he realized that I was serious, he jumped right in to take on the role of Islamic tradition expert.

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His best advice so far has been concerning dates and their ability to somehow keep you going throughout the day. According to him, dates and milk are the best way to break one’s fast. This morning, I took his advice and put some dates (five to be exact) in soy milk along with my muesli, and I gotta say, not bad … not bad at all. I just might be able to do this thing. Along with dates, muesli, and soy milk, I’ve also got coffee, honey, canned fish, whole wheat bread, and Nutella stocked up and ready. Bought a little container to pack my school lunch in to save for dinner as well. Food-wise, I think I’m mostly set…despite the fact that I’ll definitely be starving.

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As far as scheduling goes, I just received my class load today, and tomorrow, classes officially begin. Although I do believe Ramadan started yesterday, fasting officially starts tonight. I’ve got it all pretty much planned out. Had a little bit of time today during an after school meeting (that was all in Thai), so I jotted down a rough schedule of daily events to keep me on track. Not super sure if I can stick to it strictly, but I’m going to try!

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Covers all the bases I think. Still, I am rather nervous about the whole not drinking water thing. Just in case you didn’t already know, Thailand is by no means a cool climate country. I am constantly sweating. How third and fourth grade level kids are able to do it I have yet to discover. Right now, I’m bracing myself for some solid fits of dehydration. But, I’ll trust the community and its practices. Seems like everyone gets by without too much trouble. Hopefully I can do the same because, well, I’m basically staking my next month on it…

Wish me luck!

It’s already 9:07pm so I’m way past my bed time.

Gotta get that sleep in while I can.