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Donna in Thailand’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 03 Aug 2010

Location: Buses from Noryhest, Thailand

MapAgain, last night I experienced what it must feel like to be a rock star! There was a wonderful party to bid farewell to me and to welcome three new people (my new young English friend Sammy, the new music teacher Dooey, and the woman who will be the new assistant director). The stage and tables in the assembly hall (a separate building from the other five buildings that serve as classrooms, library, teacher's room, and office) were decorated beautifully. There was a huge professionally printed banner over the stage proclaiming this celebration in our honor! Sammy's and my names were printed in English while the others were in Thai. The food was very tasty, and the proceedings were lovely! After dinner, the four of us were invited to the front of the room where we first listened to what seemed to be a benediction by a holy man (not a monk). Then a long receiving line formed. Guests advanced and tied short lengths of string on out wrists while either thinking or telling us what they wished for us. This is the third time since I've been here that I've either witnessed or participated in this lovely ceremony. What made it even lovelier was that we each had someone sitting behind us supporting our arm. My support was Tik (as she has been throughout my stay here). Prayo supported Sammy, and Tawan's elderly aunt or cousin who lives with her son and daughter-in-law,  and helps run the small shop next door supported Dooey's arm. I was wished everything from good health to a safe journey and a return to Thailand. I was both welcomed and thanked. My teacher friends and several students did this, ad well as directors and teachers from other schools. It was truly heart-warming.  

After that there were speeches by the director and a school board member. We were presented with gifts. Then the student leader made a speech for Sammy and me, and a group of younger girls spoke and sang. The highlight of the entertainment was Thai dancing by 8th and/or 9th grade girls. I wrote in an earlier entry about Thai dancing done by school teachers. It is quite another thing to witness the transformation of students I've worked with from young tomboyish girls into exquisite and graceful women with their elegant costumes; hair powdered, brushed and pinned back; make-up; and graceful dancing. They looked so completely different that I was only able to recognize one of the eight dancers. All Thai girls learn how to do this in school. Other girls were still in their sports shirts serving as wait staff.

Then there was Karaoke with surprisingly good singing from my teacher friends including Tik and Jumpee, the school's regular English teachers! And then there was the rock star part! I was thanking the students and taking their pictures when some of them whipped out cell phones and had me pose! I didn't know where to look - flashes were going off from different directions! What a fun evening! The younger set went out to continue the party afterward while I went back with my old cronies, Prayo and Tawan, to pack and rest.

Yesterday there was another rock star moment. Sammy and I were in the teacher's room talking about lesson ideas for her while a large group of students were staring at us. When I asked if they were okay, one of them managed to express that they didn't want me to go home. They were very sweet!

Today I went back to the school for the last time but I didn't teach. Mr. Sawat, the school's computer guru, a really friendly and helpful man, transferred all my pictures to DVDs. I have about 10 GB of photos! (That's been one advantage of traveling solo - for a change I didn't annoy any family members with my photo taking!) Mr. Sawat also made a great farewell video for me from the school! It is really adorable, featuring the elephants from Chiang Mai! All the time I was in the office, I had the impression that I was a distraction to Mr. Sawat and that the director would not be pleased. As the morning progressed, it became apparent that he endorsed Mr. Sawat helping me with my pictures. He even let me take a picture of him on him in his office. I think he wanted to know that I would leave Thailand and his school with beautiful memories - which I am indeed doing.

Students gave me a final good-bye and many made beautiful cards for me (coached by their very capable English teacher, Tik! Then Tawan, Prayo, Tik, and Sammy drove me to Chaiyaphum where I got on the bus for Bangkok. I'll either spend the night there before flying down south for my last two days or I'll take a night bus.