Patack

   This week I was offsite again. I don’t know what it was, but every day after teaching finished I took a nap until dinner instead of playing with the kids. Perhaps I have a cold coming on. 

   Teaching was the same as always. Lots of flash cards, repetition, the dreaded banana song, and the slap game (what a horrible, useless teaching game). This time we split the munchkins into groups and we all had our own groups. I had the older kids, so I was able to do sentence formation with nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Much more up my alley than teaching phonetics. 

  That first night, Ro wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. It seems a roach had crawled on her while she was asleep and it was somewhere in the room. She does this dance to get the roach of her and even takes off her pants. She’s walking around the room hysterically, no pants on, looking for this roach. The lights come on and its a whole fiasco. Now remember, I hate physical contact and won’t even hug Ro. Not caring at all that I don’t want to touch her let alone share a sleeping bag with her, she insists that I sleep with her in her (one person) sleeping bag. No amount of denial will change her mind. Not only do I have to share this sleeping bag with her, she insists on zippering it to the top so that no other bugs can get it. Mind you, this sleeping bag is meant for one person so we are literally sleeping on top of each other, dripping in sweat. Good think I love you Ro, ‘cos I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. 

   The big fiasco was the closing ceremony. This was the second time in the past year that Patack (the school we taught at) had English volunteers. The last time kids came, we heard about the epic crying. 

   They weren’t kidding.

   During the closing ceremony, Tenzin wrote a heartfelt letter that Sassy (a Thai intern) translated into Thai and read to the kids. This letter already had a couple teary eyes going. But when the head teacher gave a speech to us, that’s when all the kids got really sad. You know those songs that just sound sad and you know it’s some epic love story or about a dog getting cancer and dying? Well one of those songs came on and the kids (and the teachers) absolutely lost it. Kids are wailing and bawling. It’s as if the teacher had told them that we were a group of terminally ill teachers who’s last wish was to teach these kids. 

   As many people have told me before, I have no soul. Everyone else is crying and is sad that we’re leaving, while I am in the back trying my best not to burst into laughter. They give us these small bags and line the kids up so that we could go through the lines and say goodbye to each child. They children had made us little letters or had gotten us candy, so they were to put these gifts into our bags. The five teachers line up sadly to say their last goodbyes. I am behind Ro so I whisper to her “Ro… I can’t. This is too funny I’m about to burst out in laughter”

   She turns around eyes filled with tears. 

   I can’t control my laughter and I have to excuse myself to go to the bathroom to calm myselef. When I come back, the wailing had gotten even louder and most of the other teaches are teary eyed. I go through the lines of kids saying my goodbyes, and the kids are putting candy, cards, rulers, and stickers into my bag, all the while bawling. Once we all made our rounds, we cram into our pickup to go home. As the truck is pulling out of the school, all the kids are running behind the truck bawling and trying to catch up to us. In hindsight it probably isn’t emotionally or mentally healthy for these kids to be crying this much on a semi-weekly basis…

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