On July 8th-12th, 2018, the YES cohort attended an intensive Thai language camp hosted by Dhurakij Pundit University in Nonthaburi. We learned so much in such a short time and we were especially lucky to be the first YES Thailand cohort to have this incredible opportunity. Two amazing AFS interns and now, our friends, P’ Bamboo and P’ Jean chaperoned us and were so much fun to hang out with. We will be back at DPU for our second language camp in October.
Typically, we woke up at 7 am to have breakfast. We walked down to the coffee shop right next to our classroom around 8:40 am. We had a morning session from 9 am until around 12 pm. The sessions were either Listening & Speaking or Reading & Writing. We had different teachers for different subjects. We often played games to make things competitive and interesting. We still sometimes used Sydney’s and my team name, Kidney, when referring to us Chicago girls. We then headed to lunch, always having something new. Chloe always instinctively picks out the best food so we followed her lead. After lunch, the five of us would get smoothies and sat at a pagoda overlooking a pond on campus for half an hour or longer.
Back to sessions! We took silly mirror pictures and finished the day with a session until around 3 pm. P’ Bamboo & P’ Jean usually took us back to the hotel to chill before dinner at 6 pm unless we wanted to go somewhere on campus before, like the gym. We changed where we went to dinner a lot, but a memorable meal I had was ordering “beef steak with beef.” I was so tempted to ask if they would hold the beef. We also went to 7/11 almost every night after dinner. I spent an inordinate amount of money, which is still only a couple of dollars with the exchange rate, on entirely unnecessary and embarrassing snacks on the first night. (It was part of my adjustment phase, I swear!!!) The most famous example being garlic bread, which tasted exactly how you would imagine garlic bread from 7/11 to taste like. :-// No worries though, I have since gone back into my usual good financial habits. We then returned to the hotel and chose which room the four of us YES girls would hang out in. This time, Sof and I were roommates but Chlo & Syd were just across the hall.
Our Last Day //
Our last day was definitely the most fun and emotional. We played language games and had a quick listening, reading, and writing exam. For our speaking exam, we had to introduce ourselves to all of the teachers, as well as the Head of Thai for Careers of DPU. I attempted to say, “Hello! My name is Kenna. I am sixteen years old. I am from America and I study Thai language in Thailand. In my free time, I like to listen to music and play games. Today, I woke up at 8am. Goodbye!” (Sorry for the video quality.)
It was a little nerve-wracking but we all made it through. Learning Thai is really difficult, so I was extremely proud of the progress we made. We were presented with some beautiful certificates as well as cute Thai desserts! We ended class early and later went to our very first Thai market. P Jean & P Bamboo bought us more dessert and our teachers, who unfortunately couldn’t come, bought us fruits. We went to dinner, where one of the menu options was a hundred-year-old egg! I was shocked but too cautious to order it, considering my six-hour road trip the next day. We watched a hilarious Thai drama and headed back to the hotel. P Jean, P Bamboo, and the whole YES cohort gathered around a table in the lobby and played some Go Fish as we ate our treats from earlier. The competition escalated as we played BS and Pizza Rat (our nickname for Egyptian Rat Screw). Then, the YES girls all gathered in Sof’s and my room to watch conspiracy theories, do face masks, paint nails, search for the Italian bops that were played at the after party, and spend time together before being separated the next day.
Saying goodbye to my cohort was extremely difficult. We had bonded so much from living together for weeks and being in the same unique situation together. They are literally like my family. However, we were all ready for the next steps in our adventure and happy to support each other through it. Sydney and Sofia both had to catch planes so I said goodbye to them, as well as P Bamboo & P Jean, at the hotel. We hope to see P’ Bamboo & P’ Jean again, either in Thailand or on their future road trip to the United States! 🙂 Chloe and Luke live very close to the hotel so I drove with AFS staff member P’ Nudi to drop them off at the AFS Office. I may or may not have shed some tears as I hugged everyone for the last time in possibly months. I love them all so much and I already miss them!
P’ Nudi, her husband, her best friend (AFS Thailand returnee from Russia,) and I had a lovely, albeit long, road trip to my host community. We tried a local fish restaurant and I had my first coconut ice cream, which I loved. I was both nervous and excited to meet my host family and start my life in Kamphaengphet; however, I felt extremely prepared after the two weeks of training.