It’s like Homecoming – without the dance.
At least that’s the closest thing I can think to compare it to in the States. The difference is all grades compete and each student is on one of four teams: Red, Yellow, Purple, and Blue.
November was dedicated to preparing for Sports Day. Every class during the month was shortened by 5 minutes leaving 50 minutes remaining at the end of each day. Students used this time to create their team name, theme, and decide who would compete in each sport.
As far as I can tell there were about 8 sports students competed in. Basketball, football (soccer), chair ball, bocce ball, table tennis, dance, rattan ball (like hacky sack with a plastic ball) and track. I say as far as I can tell because as a foreigner or farang here one never fully knows whats happening. I would say on average I’m in the loop of what’s going on about 40-50% of the time. It’s an interesting way of living and I’ve completely accepted that this is my life for the next few months – mai pen rai.
For example, the entire month I thought ALL of the sports competitions would be happening on Friday. I showed up Friday morning to watch the parade (amazing!!) and as the day started with track events (running only, sorry throwers and jumpers) I asked when the basketball games would start.
“Ohh finished!” “Happened on Tuesday.” Um, what?! Dang it, I really wanted to watch those! Come to find out ALL of the other competitions had already happened sometime during the week. I asked myself how could I not have noticed? Oh, that’s right… I’ve been teaching private English lessons inside my office until 6pm every evening. Friday was the main event, however, so I quickly got past what I had missed.
On Friday morning I did my 30 second walk to school after FaceTiming with my family who were celebrating Thanksgiving. Around 9am this is what commenced.
WOW! What an ENTRANCE!
The parade was fabulous and most of all it was wonderful to see my students in something other than their uniforms. They were all so beautiful and I felt privileged to truly see their personalties shine through. Something a uniform can sometimes hinder. It was very heartwarming seeing the kids so happy. The students were dressed to represent their team as well as many traditional Thai dresses from different regions i.e. Northern Thailand, Eastern Thailand, etc.
The teams competed all day long in the stifling heat. Plenty of water and snacks were provided throughout the day. We were treated especially nice at the judge’s table. Sarah and I didn’t actually do any judging because, uh hum, it’s all in Thai, but because we are teachers we were offered a seat at the table and got to enjoy the perks.
I’m still not really sure why there were “judges” as I don’t think points were given nor any actual judging happened… then again I could be completely wrong. This is where that 60% of being out of the loop comes in. Mostly they collected the names of those who came in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place while others did the announcing.
If you’re paying attention to the photos you’ll notice one thing. They are not wearing any shoes! Crazy to us Americans, right? But here, that is how they compete – at least in the running events on the field. Maybe it’s not really crazy though as barefoot running has become a trend over the past few years. These kids are ahead of us.
The running events lasted until about 3:30 in the afternoon. Throughout the day many awards were handed out to those who placed and at the conclusion the students were treated to a football match between the teachers! This seemed to revive them momentarily as their cheering, dancing, and chanting had dwindled throughout the day. 80 degree or more heat can do that.
I think it’s interesting to point out that since I’ve arrived in Thailand I’ve actually never known what the temperature of the day was. Thermometers are not posted everywhere here like they are in America.
By the end of the day everyone was thoroughly exhausted yet still cheerful – the true Thai way I must say. Sarah and I went home and went straight to bed. Really. What a fun day it was, though, and I am so glad I was able to experience Sports Day with my students and fellow teachers. A day with no class is just as fun for teachers as it is for students after all. 🙂
Most of all I love all the ways I was able to see my students outside of a classroom setting. It’s a fresh reminder that each of these kids are individuals that need a little love and support and lots of encouragement along their journey – and that’s what I’m here for.
Needless to say I will be smiling a lot in class and Monday and praising all of their efforts. (Especially since it will be December and I can officially start talking about Christmas!!!)
Great read! I love learning about the culture and seeing your perspective and interaction with them!