Monday, 16 June 2014 18:41

Cultural Mistake (Kristina)

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The Lord has given me the opportunity to teach English in a Thai public school called Wanprachop, this semester. On my second day there, the school was celebrating teachers day. The hall and stage were decorated with purple and yellow flowers and a statue of a buddha stood surrounded by candles. The director then came over where I was sitting on the sidelines and asked me to sit up front with all the teachers on stage. I politely refused. There is no way that I could sit up there! I knew what was going to happen. The students will bring the teachers flowers to express thank you’s. I did not feel like I deserved that honor, especially since I had just started teaching. In my “humbleness”, I had disobeyed the director, I later realized.



The director lit the candles to symbolize the start of the ceremony. The students sang a few songs then came two by two towards the stage. They bowed before the buddha, noses to the ground, then walked towards the teachers on their knees. Upon presenting the flowers, they bowed twice in the same manner, then walked off the stage on their knees.

Towards the end of the three hour ceremony, four students came over to where I was sitting, on their knees, and presented me with flowers and the words,”i love teacher.” They bowed twice to the ground before me. I felt hot all over and I think my face turned a few different shades of red. I had never felt so uncomfortable before! I did the wai as a thank you, and wished for the moment to be over. They walked away on their knees. Lesson learned, obey the Thai people who know more than I do and trust their judgment, no matter how uncomfortable I feel and how right I think I am in using my own cultural understandings and practice.



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