Today I say goodbye to living life out of a backpack, my bare apartment and the people of Ban Phe. For the past two weeks I have gotten to know and grown close with 15 awesome teachers and 100 dynamic kids. All of us teaching each other. At the primary school in Rayong, we teachers definitely had our shortcomings. For many of us, it was our first time in a classroom and in command of a whiteboard, which showed in the blue mark of shame many of us sported on our foreheads. (Never erase the whiteboard with your fingers in a 95 degree classroom–a rookie mistake).
Despite our mistakes, the kids were patient with us and wanted to be there, to learn from us. The month of October is actually a student holiday, but many students came to school anyway for the opportunity to better their English. The Rayong Thai teachers, too, were willing to let us practice and appreciative of our help. For a farewell gift, they sent us home with a songthaew full of coconuts.
Today I also say goodbye to Allie, a firecracker of a woman who has become a dear friend in such a short amount of time. I admire so many facets of her personality. Never have a seen a more deft and perceptive communicator. Her confidence makes life seem more navigable, makes everything more transparent. She expresses herself with words well chosen, full of conviction and weighing heavily with purpose. When she speaks she is always blatant and honest, but not without compassion. She has a profound sensitivity to others’ emotions and the effect that her words may have on them. She is aware of the power of perspective. Never sugarcoats anything but, rather, explains in full depth her reasoning, her intention. Always gives you the Why. This is fascinating to watch in someone because I think the majority of humans’ problems come from miscommunication and a lack of understanding each other. Allie makes you understand.
She has also been helping out our TEFL instructor by observing our training lessons and giving us feedback. (She took the course a month ago). I valued her opinion much more than my instructor’s. Such a wonderful person to learn from. In many ways, she has incited my growth, helped me to unfold. She has paved the way for my experience in Thailand–breaking me in, introducing me to the culture, telling me the dos and don’ts, taking me on adventures. With Allie by my side, Thailand feels like home. Wild spirits running free.