Hitting Children

Merry Christmas Eve everybody! I’m currently sitting in the office bored with no internet so I thought I’d write a bit since I probably won’t again until after New Years. Somehow the internet speed has regressed over the past 24 hours. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It better be back up to speed by tomorrow so I can chat with the family for xmas. (edit: It didn’t! It was down all day and I had to pay $20 to make an international call from my Thai phone)

Let’s get right to the title first. No, I have no hit any children…  I have, however, witnessed the Thai teachers doing it multiple times. This has been one of the more surprising cultural things I’ve seen at my school.

Back story: all of the Thai teachers at school carry around a bamboo stick that’s about 3 feet long for “controlling students”. When a student gets out of line or talks back, WHAP! Square across the backside. Either that or flicks to the back of the ear.

Now my feelings on this have been pretty torn. On one hand, from my American perspective, it’s terrible to hit a child. I always feel so bad for these students whenever I see them receive a bamboo beat-down. One girl got one right in front of my desk the other day.

But on the other hand, it works. These kids do not disrespect their Thai teachers whatsoever. Yes it is probably out of fear, but that’s the way it’s been done here for a long time. The lead disciplinarian of my school was my TA the other day for like 20 minutes… I’ve never had such enthusiastic participation.

Fast forward to yesterday. I got gifted my very own bamboo baton. Now let’s be clear, I don’t want to use this thing, but I do want to carry it around to intimidate. My kids have always been a little more ornery in my classes because they probly figured that I couldn’t discipline them. Maybe if I wave my mini Louisville Slugger around kids will get in line. Or maybe I’ll have to go all Ender’s Game on one poor kid and win every argument for the rest of the year. But let’s hope not. (edit #2: intimidation-stick did not work. The kids kept asking to play with it. I gave it back to a Thai teacher because I don’t plan on having this being one of my disciplinary techniques)

But that’s enough child abuse talk for the day. I finally figured out another cultural thing I’ve been curious about since I got here. Every time I’ve seen the date written, it has been: 24 Dec 2556. I was very thrown off by this 2556 number. “What do they know that I don’t??” As it turns out, it’s simple and makes a lot of sense. Whereas when we rewind 2013 back to 0 and then go farther back, we add B.C. for “before Christ.” But as Thailand is a Buddhist country, the date is based on Budda. And Budda was born 2556 years ago. Ta da!

What else. I got my work permit sorted out today so I’m officially a legal employee in the Kingdom of Thailand. And I got my visa renewed in time so I won’t have to leave the country for a day like a lot of my other teacher buddies have had to do. But man this process took soooooo long. I sat in the Immigration office for hours. The DMV is the closest comparison I can make.

The worst part though? The immigration office smells like feet. Nasty feet. Now I’ve had many Asian friends in my day, so I understand the concept of removing your shoes before you go inside. It keeps things clean. I get it. Probably not great in a large-scale, high foot traffic area though.

I can’t wait for Friday. I’m off of school for a week and a half and I head to Phuket on Saturday. I have to take a night bus overnight to get there though which will be pretty brutal. I leave at like 6:30pm and arrive the next morning. I’ll see a bunch of people I haven’t seen since Hua Hin, and I think we might spend one of the nights on Koh Phi Phi (pronounced pee-pee. Heh heh. Yes, I’m 10 years old). I’m sure I’ll have some fun stories for the next post, as we definitely plan to see a ping pong show. Hopefully the shame will wash off fairly easily. Merry Christmas everybody! I’ll miss everyone even more than usual tomorrow. Love you all, and have a safe and happy New Year next week.

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