On September 1st, my class, some of the foreign teachers, and I participated in the “AFS Acts of Kindness: The Happiness Project” Camp. Afterwards, we took a trip to the local hot springs. I made a new friend and had tons of fun teaching and exploring.
In the morning, we travelled not far from school to teach primary school children English and other languages. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never taught such a large group of children but I felt optimistic, especially with all of my friends to help. The day began with presentations of cultures. There was an introduction from my coordinator and advisor, followed by Chinese and Japanese dancing with the help of our foreign language teachers. I met a girl named Chiara from Germany who lives in Nan as she had come to see the German teaching assistant at my school. They taught a children’s song in German together. When it came time for the English presentation, I was thoroughly unprepared. I was under the impression it had already been planned but instead, my friends and I decided five minutes prior to teach a song I had learned from AFS Thailand: The Banana Song. It was fairly self-explanatory and had actions to accompany it. My friends played music in the background and both us teachers and the students were enjoying ourselves.
The rest of the day consisted of stationed activities, exposing the children to all sorts of different languages and cultures. I spent a little while with my Thai friends, but seeing as I had gotten along quite well with Chiara, I joined her group. They were teaching the game, ‘Ninja’, and I, while not very good at the game, was an enthusiastic teacher. In our lunch break, there was lively music provided by my friends and Chiara and I chatted about everything under the sun. We had amazing coconut ice cream and sticky rice, one of my favourite Thai desserts. Afterwards, Teacher Suporn had planned a trip for us students to visit the local Hot Springs. The German teacher’s assistant decided to go home, as he was pretty exhausted from the hours in harsh heat. Chiara and I were up for more adventure.
The Hot Springs//
The trip only took about fifteen minutes and we were surrounded by a beautiful park.
We took some photos, of course, and then spotted some boats in the shapes of swans and ducks. Teacher Suporn had previously mentioned that was one of her favourite things about the park and she excitedly suggested that we take a ride. She generously paid for me and Chiara and we hopped in. Our foot-pedaling skills were significantly worse than we thought and a horrible squeaking noise was coming from the boat. We got around the course, under a little bridge, and into an open area overlooking the park. Eventually, the serenity and nature we found ourselves in was overwhelming and we stopped pedaling to float and take it all in. We played some of our shared music tastes and jokingly sang along. Before we knew it, the other students who had been trailing us had moved on and we were alone on the pond. It started drizzling with rain, which had only added to our relaxation until we realized we didn’t know how to get out. Some students helped us pull our boat over to a dock a little further away and we laughed at our mishap.
We hurried over the bridge to have a little time in the hot springs. Under a little stand nearby where some people in our group waited, I abandoned my phone, purse, and shoes, both out of fear of dropping something and to feel more present in the moment. We sat across from all of my friends and next to Teacher Suporn and other teachers. My jaw dropped as I dipped my feet in, shocked by the sheer heat, making me quickly turn pink. Looking at my friends all happily talking to each other across the beautiful spring, I was, as I often am, reflecting upon how incredibly lucky I was to even be there.
This soothing and fitting end to the exhausting day was interrupted by an intense rainstorm. We all bolted from the springs to the nearby stand and paused, to anticipate our next move and look at the scenery. Our bus was down the street and the flurry was unfaltering. My friends and I began running at lightning speed through the downpour to the bus. As many of us were wearing sandals, our shoes kept falling off. By the time we arrived, we were all completely soaked and laughing through it. Makeup was running, people were out of breath, and the bus was dark. Chiara and I curled up, half-asleep, until we reached school where the rain had stopped. It was a bittersweet end as I had to say goodbye to my new friend. We gave each other a big hug and I hoped we would see each other again.