Friday, June 18, 2010

In Which I am Adored by Thai Children

Hello again, friends!

Sorry for the delay - some time Wednesday evening the internet quit working at the EcoHouse. Boo! Last night was filled with the excitement of the weekly trip to Tesco, but tonight I was able to walk down the street to the local internet cafe that is funded, I believe, exclusively through the foreign volunteers here in Sing Buri. As are many of the "taxi" drivers in town, too.

So, I am done with the orphanage! This afternoon, one of the other volunteers asked me if I was sad about leaving the kids. "Nope," I said. When she looked a little surprised at my lack of grief, I tried to explain how, after eight years of teaching, I'm used to saying good-bye to groups of kids. It's not entirely true, since I wasn't ever one to show that kind of emotion or make that kind of connection with students. Heck, it even inspired one of my pieces in "Making Waves"! Since she's one of the volunteers who have mingled tears with cigarettes at the thought of saying good-bye to the kids at the end of next week, I imagine she is as mystified by my cold-heartedness as I am by her overwhelming affection.

The kids are sweet, though. I've become popular thanks mostly to my supply of Uno cards, stickers, construction paper, and other such treats. Some of the girls gathered around me for a while today as I showed them photos on my iPhone - my cat, my parents in Egypt, Jason in Turkey, my speech kids, Rachel and Jack, and so on. They squealed over the picture of Jason and while I said firmly, "Friend. Friend," they looked at each other and said with that sliding, knowing, intonation, "Oooh, frrrriend...." That converation's exactly the same everywhere I go, apparently.

They were very excited by the colored construction paper packet - I had a mob of students around me asking for a page; I made them tell me the color of it in English before giving it to them. One girl drew a picture of a princess on her paper, then wrote "I love you," and presented it to me. I asked her to write her name on it, and she wrote "Atoo," followed her name in Thai. Another girl grabbed my left hand while I was teaching a group how to play jacks and tied a friendship bracelet onto my wrist. As we were pulling out of the school area, the kids mobbed the truck, grabbing our hands, calling good-byes, and making hearts with their hands. One little one pressed a stick of gum into my hand, then pressed up against the side of the truck, tilting her face as high as she could to whisper in my ear, "I love you."

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