Colleen Thornton's Blog

I thought only in the twilight zone would something like the following occur: a house is on fire. You call the fire department. They come. They stand with their hoses slack, looking at the fire. They name a price and the negotiation begins. An agreement is reached and the water flows. I suppose there is comfort in knowing that the fire department will come if you call.

I need to reintroduce my blog with an explanation about how I ended up here in Surabaya, Indonesia. Late last year I completely unravelled. I parted ways with my husband and then set off to hike the Himalayas and meditate in India. Upon leaving Calcutta I ended up in Spain by default, my still-favourite place in the world.

Living day to day surrounded by a culture different from your own you notice little things that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to observe as a tourist. These little things are for me the defining features of a micro-level, present-day culture.

With just four weeks to go I am happily planning my next steps in Southeast Asia. Many teachers have decided to stay on for a full year while I am happy to be soon leaving Ayutthaya and the teaching. Do I sound eager? It has been an experience and that is all I was looking for in this… just a different experience in life. Would I do it again? Well that depends on a few things I guess.

Imagine: a 1975 film about sexual liberation recreated for the stage some 37 years later in Thailand by a bunch of cross-dressing high school students. I made a joke and a few days later I was among a few other teachers and over a hundred high school students doing the Time Warp.

In Thailand, colours are assigned to different days of the week and Thais wear those colours accordingly. After teaching a few weeks, I noticed that teachers wore the same colour on the same day of the week. When I asked a couple of locals about it, they confirmed that in Thailand colours represent different days of the week.

I fear this song may still be with us for a while. It is like an infestation in Thailand and appears to be part of the school curriculum. I had to compete with it for my students’ attention today during an outdoor lesson that involved doing the Hokey Pokey.

I can’t help thinking about sad stuff at Christmastime. Or things that make me nostalgic. Maybe it has to do with certain poignant songs I hear this time of year. Lennon’s Happy Christmas is definitely one.

When my boss asked me what I was printing the other day and I replied, “my lesson plan”, she had no idea what I was talking about. This wasn’t a language barrier. She had no idea that teachers developed lesson plans… apparently they don’t, at least not the ones working for my company anyway. She said she thought that planning learning activities and recording them is a great idea… it sure is!

Learning another language is hard. Learning your native language is even more difficult. At least with another language you can go on ignorance. You learn one definition for words and you use words in their literal sense. You can have simple "little" conversations with the server at the restaurant, or the guy at the market, but they can't extend beyond a mere few words.