Notes from Southeast Asia: The contents of this blog reflect only my opinions and thoughts and are in no way associated with the U.S. Goverment, the U.S. Peace Corps or the Royal Thai Goverment

Monday, February 25, 2008

Long Time No Post

Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and everything in between! It has obviously been quite a while and I hope everyone is doing well! Quite a bit has been going on for me in Thailand and I have been enjoying it tremendously! About two months ago I made a pretty big move and decided to stop working at one of the two schools I was assigned at which to work. A friend who is the editor of a sort of "magazine" here called "Speak English" asked me to write about it. Here is that article.

It was actually the tri-annual report that cemented my decision to "drop" one of my schools. I had been thinking about it for several weeks prior to that point but counter-arguments of why I shouldn't presented themselves more frequently. The catalyst to my thought of dropping one school was simple: there was absolutely no fluidity nor progressive development of language along grade levels at either of my schools. There was nothing to speak of in terms of teacher collaboration or communication between levels: the Mathayome teacher had absolutely no idea what theBratome 4, 5, and 6 teachers would be teaching, nor she any clue of the curriculum of Bratome 1, 2, and 3. Talk about a lack of informed teacing! It just didn't make sense for me, after that point, to only work with one teacher who was limited to a small section of a student's progress in language development. I wanted to work with all teachers and attempt to unite all levels - a task that seemed incredibly daunting to tackle at two schools. There was no way I could'nt drop a school, I needed to do it; it not only sounded like the most effective thing to do but I also found myself really excited by its prospects. My ubiquious internal counter-arguments? I would feel bad. I got over the possibility of feeling bad, though, when I was painfully unable to report many successes on my tri-annuat report. On paper it was obvious that I wasn't being entirely effective (at least in that aspect) but more importantly, I felt I could be doing a much better job. I reasoned that it just didn't make much sense to protect "feeling bad" to such extremes when I knew of another method that could be more effective. I followed through with my latter thoughts and ultimately, it was by no means an easy process. And I did feel bad. Sitting face to face to tell my favorite of my two counterparts that I would no longer be working with her was a pretty painful experience but 2 months after the fact, I am happy that I did follow through. I find myself with such a deeper understanding of the school itself and my students. For me, dropping my school was a quetion of how I could be most effective. For you reader, however, I can't just give out that adivce. I know that our individualized siuations don't really allow for such simplicity. What I can tell you is this: if you are contemplating re-structuring your work siuation remember that there is no such thing as a bad or wrong decision....especially if you follow through. I've learned more than I think I would ever have had I stayed at both of my schools - a fact that has been an extremely fortunate outcome of my decision. On the otherhand, had the decision been a bust, re-treating would have been 100% acceptable.

I'm actually submitting that today without giving the rest of the story and here it is: I've been a teacher in Thailand for a year now. I have had some great success as a teacher, some as a trainer for my co-teacher, but most of my success come out of my reading club. I've discovered that, at least in Thailand, I don't make a very good teacher. It requires too much structuring off of nothing. What do I make, is a very good tutor. I am going to entirely restructure the way I work next year and very little of it will be actual teaching. I'm super super excited about it. There is still about a month or so left of school and then I will be on vacation!!! I will still have to hold some very unfortunate english camps on Bangkok order but other than that.....

The past couple of months, like I said, have been fantastic. Last month I successfully completed my first ever marathon! I was surpised and very thankful for the amount of energy I had that day. Thankful because I needed it especially for the last miles when my legs started hurting so bad I couldn't stop to take drink break because it hurt to bad to start running up again. I finished in 5 hours and 20 minutes which I'm pretty pleased about :) The picture at the top is some traditional Thai dancing during a Thai Holiday last week. The picture to the left is 3 of the best people here: Anton, Meghan, and Peter. Meghan and Peter both ran and finished the marathon as well. This is a top the largest buddah statue - well, at least that I've ever seen ;)

So, I've got about 20 spiders living with me at any point in the week. They themselves aren't much of a bother - they are kind of like the "just there" Daddy Long Legs in the States - but their webs, well, that's quite a different story. My house is made of wood and what should be innocuous, simple, dust-collecting nooks and crannies become havens for web-spinning. On any given cleaning day it takes me about 10- 15 minutes to clear all of those places of webs. The slightly scary part is getting the webs above my head. The slightly gross part is removing the webs from my broom. As a collective sum, there is enough spider-web that if I balled it all together, I could play ping-pong with it. The fascinating part is that the spiders, despite the fact that their homes are destroyed on a regular basis, keep rebuilding. The one on the top-left corner of my mirror, for example, is rebuilt everyday. I can't help but think: "stupid spiders" as I remove, for what seems like the hundredth time, his temporary home. But they need a home don't they? I realize as I'm here in Thailand, how much a place is attached to ourselves as home. Thai people ask me all too often what the difference between home and house it. The only way I see it is a house is a simple structure, even a more general term. A home is a house after all. A home is the place you love. I've always loved Colorado but good god, after Thailand, I KNOW there is no other place that I can call home. I hope you all are doing well wherever you call home! :)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I remember in middle school the immature, slightly whiny response to someone's declaration of loving something: "Oh yah? Well, why don't you just marry it?" Marry carrots dipped in ranch dressing? What are you, crazy? I've gone through many different phases of thought about this adolescent exchange. When I was younger I thought it was both hilarious and utterly frustrating depending, of course, on whether I was the giver or the receiver of what was, at the time, a purely genious comment. Later in my life, circa my college years, I looked upon this comment with a sort of esteemed admiration. Many hours were spent with friends reminiscing about the great / odd American culture that we had the pleasure of growing up with: Reading Rainbow, pogs, Duck Tales, the "why don't you marry it" comment. I had an appreciation of this comment; the kind that one could only have knowing that it was great while it was there but(thank god) that phase of my life is over. Now, as I live my live in another country, I see the phrase not as hilarious, frustrating, or worthy of appreciation, but rather one that so accurately pinpoints a part of the Thai language. There is a very distinct different between the usage of the word like and love. You do not love carrots dipped in ranch dressing. You can only like it a lot. There are ways, of course, to emphasize that you really like something. For example you could say "chop mak jang lui" (I like it a lot, really!) instead of simply saying that, yes, you do "chop" something. But no, the word love is distinctly used for people. I had difficulty with this seemingly unnecessary boundary on the word. If I wanted to say that I loved eating mangoes, loved laying in my hammock, or the colors of the sunset, I found myself restricted by the language. But I see now, upon resurrection of the silly adolscent retort, that ok, saying you actully LOVE a fruit is kinda, well....silly. Is it something you would actually stand at an altar with? Well, of course not. What am I? Crazy?

Yesterday was the first in many many number of days where I had NOTHING to do, no plans. I woke up late and decided to relish in the glory of a free day by reading. As I sat down I heard my name yelled from the street outside my window. "What are you doing?" the little voice asked. How could I explain to my favorite four year old that I was enjoying my first morning of freedom in months? I couldn't. "Nothing", I replied. "I'm coming up, then", was his immediate response. As he, other village kids, and I continued on with our day I eventually pulled out my extra American money. My 51 extra bucks is quite a bit of baht (aout 2, 000) but they were only interested in the not so usefull pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. I gave them all away and as I stowed my bills away again, the kids began playing a very simple coin throwing game. Whoever threw their coin further without going over a certain line won the coins. They asked me to play but watching them was better. I took a front row spot in my hammock, my four year old climbing in to lay with me. As we watched these kids play shoeless with their American money, it hit me that I could do this all day. I was content, happy, and I LOVED where I was. I thought about the translation in Thai and how again, it just wouldn't, just couldn't be the same. I found myself thankful for the english language; that I had the option of chosing the word love at that moment as "liking it very much" just didn't seem to suffice. A smile formed on my lips as I imagined the smaller Sadie in middle school, recieving the inevitable phrase. No, I didn't actually want to marry this situation: this collection of people, places, things, events, in my life that are bringing me such immense joy. Can't I just love it anyway? Yah, I can :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Teacher Training

Hi everyone :) I have just returned from 4 days away at a resort located about 20 kilos from home (the third resort at which I have stayed in the past 2 months...geez, life is hard). Teachers from the area gathered here to write the Provincial test...I was there as the "talking dictionary". Besides feeling slightly used, I had an absolutely fantastic time. Yes, it was absolutely beautiful, the food was great, and company was fun. The best part though was that I spent four whole days working very hard on the teacher training seminar I explained in my last blog.

Here's the deal (at least the deal from my perspective): Thailand has a problem with the school system (a big problem) and it is no secret. Pretending the school system is void of problems would be comparable to pretending the country is void of heat. I believe all levels of government know that there is a problem and as any good government should, they attempt to tackle it. Their attempt comes in many forms but two very interesting cultural forms are by holding English Camps (an attempt at teaching english to massive amounts of students at one time, gone terribly, terribly wrong. I swear this had to have started as a bad fad at some point) and Teacher Training Seminars (less ADD versions of English Camps but for teachers). I must give credit to where credit is due of course: they are trying. But (does it surprise you that there is a but? because it shouldn't) there are two problems: these camps simply aren't effective (which, understated, is a big bummer) but probably most significant: nobody is actually questioning the effectiveness.

Teachers always sing songs and play games during these seminars which is...good I suppose (though there are innate problems with this as well that I won't get into) At the last seminar that I attended the teachers were required to write a lesson plan according to a random topic and then act out the lesson plan as if they were in the classroom. I was pleased with this idea of having to actually write a lesson plan during the session but there was absolutely no evaluation of the lesson plan afterwards. In the long run it seemed more like meaningless entertainment than a fruitful activity for the teachers. 7 out of the 9 groups that performed sang a song during their lesson. Singing songs to help faciliate a lesson isn't such a bad idea. The problem though was that every single song used the exact same tune (Brother John) just with substituted words according to the topic they were teaching. I wondered how many times teachers had used that song to teach a lesson and did they acutally even understand why they were using a song or were they just simply following through on the information that songs supposedly made classes more lively? It struck me during the last session I attended that teachers are given a good amount of songs and games that they could potentially bring to their classroom but as far as the deeper meaning of the songs and the games, knowledge was limited. Knowledge seems to be limited in quite a lot more ways than that as well and thats where my ideas come in.

What I'm going to do (with the help of my fantastic superviosr) is find 10 teachers within Prachinburi (I have 4 so far) that speak english reasonably well and are more progressive in terms of teaching is concerned. I will train these 10 teachers first. They will be students through all of the sessions I have included in my tentative schedule because I feel like this is the best way for them to grasp the full intention (the best teachers are critical students). We will then work together to modify anything that needs to be modified. They will have experienced first hand what they will eventually teach themselves so they will know best the way things should be changed. They will help me come up with skits that will put into light some of the common problems teachers face in the classroom and the best way to move past the "grang jai" culture to get the teachers to be critical (the only way we can improve the teaching environment is to look at the positive AND the negative) about those skits. I will be training these teachers first but then I will be a facilitator after that. Through all of my planning I have tried to keep sustainability in mind as I am only here for two years and can no way fix Thailand's education problems. There will be follow up evaluation after the session and then I will choose several of the teachers from that seminar who will then work with me to be trainers for a second teaching seminar.

One of my favorite parts about the sessions is my inclusion of actual english classes. Every morning the teachers will break off into smaller groups to learn english. My theory behind this is two fold. First, it's really hard to teach a language if you don't speak it and as many of these teachers don't really speak English, this is intended to give them a boost. I in no way do I believe that 5 hours of learning English is going to give them all the skills they need but I hope that it will give them motivation to continue learning English on their own and that being an adult learner can be damn fun. Second, I wanted the teachers to be students. I want the teachers to actually participate in a lesson that was student centered. The government wants teachers to move to this method of teaching but teachers across Thailand are still unsure of what it means, what it looks like, and certainly how to accomplish it as a teacher. Puting these teachers in the place of students will, I hope, give them insight into the needs of a learner thusly, giving them more knowledge about how to actually teach and help their students learn English (and hopefully other subjects as well).

Yah, thats what that's about. I have put hours upon hours into this project and have an uncountable amount left...two years of hours left I supposed you could say. I am really really excited about this project and will pass on more information when it comes. For some reason hotmail wasn't working when I got online so no responses from me today...I hope everyone is well. The picture above, if it actually went through is the golf course at the resort. I slipped that one in there for my brother in an attempt to lure him here ;)

Monday, July 23, 2007

So I realize that it has been a while since I have written a blog though I do not exactly apologize as I have legitmate reasons (trainings, camps). I must admit that you will have to wait longer for another reasonably intelligent blog as Harry Potter, the last installment, came out a few days ago. I wasn't able to get to a book store until yesterday which was quite a hilarious adventure. I arrived at the train station (I needed to go to the capital city of the province an hour away) hoping one would be leaving shortly. I asked the worker who told me the next train would be leaving at "bai sam mong krung" (3:30). I looked at my watch and saw that I only had an hour to wait. No problem! I thought. I'll sit in the hot Thailand sun if it means I get Harry Potter in an hour! An hour comes and goes and I wonder why the workers haven't opened the ticket booth. I keep saying bai sam mong krung in my head thinking something must be wrong. And it was. I some how thought 3 meant 2 so when I discovered that the train wasn't coming for another hour I sopped up my sweat and continued waiting. I soon loaded my excited body into the packed train (which ended up arriving at 4:00!) where I fought for one of the few spots on the train where I could actually feel the oscillating fan above. I want to insert here that through this waiting and heat I wasn't even certain whether when I got to the capital they would even have the book in english...boy, what I wouldn't do for Harry Potter :) I finally arrived at my destination and to my utter girlish pleasure they had the book in english for only 850 baht! I, with a smile that I wasn't going to hide despite all the staring eyes, ran to the ATM, withdrew a thousand baht, ran back to the book store, picked up the book, had a very awkward conversation with the cashier (he responded to my questions about whether he was going to read the book with a look like "despite this mandatory witch hat that makes me look like a fan, I'm certainly not crazy enough to read this book". Whatever. I was happy.) and then ran to the bathroom. The bathroom?? Well.....yah. I was so excited but had no one to share it with so I decided I would take pictures for you all to see so we could, strangely, and somehow vicariously, share in the pleasure of this last book. I am currently 200 or so pages in and am taking my sweet sweet time as I know, sigh, this is the last of the great books. In other news, quickly written, I am currently working on the of the biggest projects I have probably ever worked on and am so excited about it. I am going to, with the help of my supervisor, hopefully completely change the way teacher training seminars are held here in Thailand....and, fingers crossed, affect the way teachers teach as well. But I can explain more about that later but for now, I've got Harry Potter on my mind and well, its time to go :)

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I am currently writing from an internet shop in Kanchanaburi which is home to the River Kwai Bridge that was built during WWII as a way to successfully further Japan's plans to control Burma (I believe I have that part of history correct, but please write and tell me if I have misspoken). Hundreds of workers lost their lives here and there are several memorials as well as a large war cemetery. We woke up this morning (we as in all of the volunteers. We are currently in our second part of training several miles from town) and were taken to a local orphanage where we were to either plant trees, pick up trash, or cut grass with the kids. It ended up being entirely disorganized (no surprise there!) and we just walked around the school holding kids hands and playing large group games. The kids come to this boarding school for many reasons but, as a general whole, because their parents were not fit. It was very nice to see a successful organization in Thailand though it was almost shocking to see Thai children misbehave by pushing or hitting other children or, more shocking, adults. Tomorrow I believe we are going to a floating market and then hike to some waterfalls. It has been an awesome break from my home; to not have to think about translating, or how to work through the countless numbers of problems, and to see everyone again. We were sitting at a little hut across the street from the resort and a friend turned to me and said "You know, it's just like a family reunion. I come and I don't feel like I need to impress anyone, I can just be". We were told by staff that we have a very special group and I really feel that. It is quite amazing to get 56 people together and not have raging hatred and ridiculously incessant gossip (especially getting 28 girls together!) but we all like each other and though there is some gossip, everyone understands that there are no ill-feelings and it simply is the PC life - your life is theirs...there are some conflicts between personalities of course but everyone is mature enough to handle situations appropriately and we all WANT to hang out together instead of breaking off into clicks. I feel like I am just blabbing here. I've made no new discoveries but am having a great great time and tonight we will indulge in some adult beverages and dance the night away!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Amazing Mound

Kao Yaai, literally translated, is "mountain large" (but you have to say it with the right tone or it could mean rice grandma or white move). I have gotten into a couple discussions about the fact that Thailand's "mountains" aren't really mountains; that they are more foothills than mountains but they refuse to budge. After a couple rounds of "chai!" "mai chai!", "chai!" "mai chai!", I succumb to this mountain fight. I go gracefully but only so because I've got an image the good ol' Rockies in my head (That's the mountain range not the baseball team Matt W. No wise-ass cracks this time!) Pi Oi (the principal at school) and I were driving back from a meeting we had in Kao Yaai and we drive past a sign that reads "Amazing Mound" (yay for ambiguity). Pi Oi and I eventually get into a discussion about what constitutes a mound. I describe it in terms of size, that in, descending order, you have a mountain, then a hill, and then a mound. We then point out things on the sides of the road that could be considered mounds. After pointing out mounds of dirt, leaves, and trash, Pi Oi puts his hand on, and then gently caresses his stomach, and informs me that: "I have mound". Talk about application huh?!

When I did my internship with the 5th grade in the States, a lot of my time was spent with the students who were left behind, the students who, will in all likelihood, continue to be left behind. The teachers discussed these students frequently and questioned what exactly to do, how exactly to help them. These conversations usually always turned into rants about having to "teach to" the National Tests coupled with tired cries of the desire to spend more time on the lessons that the students have difficulty with instead of having to rush on to the next topic to ensure coverage. It is a breath of fresh air to say that this is not something that I need to worry about as a teacher here. To clarify, the Royal Thai Government does adminiter National Tests but as the nation knows that the students will not be able to actually do the test, it is seen more as a common cold - come winter, you will inevitably have to lounge in bed with a cold but before you know it, the bug passes with no lasting harm, never having to think of it again. (As a side note, my supervisor wants to write a district test within this year. I'll let you know how that goes...) Last week, one of my lessons was an absolute bust. It was too difficult, complex, and left most students with an unfortunate case of "furred eyebrows". Some were even stricken with "gaping mouth" as well. Sigh. As I don't especially enjoy being the cause of disorder and as I am a fortunate teacher in Thailand, I re-taught the lesson and today, they understood (most of them at least. I still had to work with some students after class)! So, that being said, here's the
equation I'm working with here in Thailand:
2 schools
2 co-teachers
11 classes
350 students
Throw in some other things like lack of funding and absense of curriculum, I've got the most amazing opportunity to develop my teaching skills. And developing they are. As I teach the same lesson 11 times I have the opportunity to change and then apply what I have found to be unsuccessful...poor guinea pigs. Umm, I feel like that was an incomplete paragraph but I'm tired and ready to go home so I will go on to explaining the pictures. The first is some Bratome 5 students writing the words they learned in their notebooks. The second is a group of kids (not my students) from the second school. I was walking back to the teacher's break room after lunch and run into a group of kids jumping rope. I stopped, said a random sentence in English (they always laugh at the fact that it is so incredibly foreign), made a face, and then walked away. The kids all dropped their ropes and followed me. I quickly turned around, put up my hands like a monster, and as I walked towards them, they all ran away (laughing of course). After chasing them the length of the sidewalk, I turned around and proceeded to my intended destination. They followed me again so, again, I pretended I was a monster. This sillyness ensued for 3 more rounds until I was too hot to continue. I told them I had work to do and to go play. Of course they didn't though. As I took out my work I hear: "Kroo Sadie ka. Tam arai ka" (Teacher Sadie, what are you doing?) in a timid voice behind me. I turn around to see that three of the students (captured in the picture) that I was playing with in the front ran around the building to come watch me from the back. The next picture is of my first drink ever from a coconut. It had close to no taste but was so hot from the sun that it was almost discusting. This coconut came from the tree behind me. The last picture, da da da daaa, is of my house. Thats right. My house. This is a typical style in Thailand. The first level is open and has no rooms (though my kitchen, if you can call it that as it doesn't have a sink or fridge, freezer, or food for that matter - is on this level. I wash my dishes in the buckets you see in the bottom right hand corner). This area is oftentimes the only reprieve you get from the heat during the day. Pictures of the inside of my house to come. Oh, I almost forgot. The Harry Potter Contest has come to a close. And the winner is (drum roll please) my wonderful dad...and not wonderful because he is sending me a Harry Potter book, though that is fantastic, but wonderful because he is just a damn good man.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Procrastination and Anticipation

So this is a picture I took of a sunset in Sakeo a couple months ago. This was just one captured sunset but this was my bliss every day biking back home after training. For some reason, though, the sunsets in Kabin just don't have the same passion. I really don't have much to say today; I am simply just online attempting to divert my attention away from the work I should actually be doing (I've always been a procrastinator). Let me tell you a little bit about that work though. We are currently working on family at the Bratome level (ages 8 through 11). We are still working on introductions at the Mathayome level (ages 11-15) . I was again struck with a fever which turned into a horrible sickness that I had to endure for a week and a half (and for those of you who know me, being sick again - three times in a 5 month span where in the States sick for me meant a strange sore throat that lasted 1 or 2 days every 1 to 2 years - is quite ridiculous. Pre-Thailand I questioned my human-hood. Maybe I was some sort of amazing freak of nature whose immune system was simply beyond all attack. Watching Unbreakable really put some power behind that thought...but now I know, sigh, that I am penetrable - damnit! How I so wanted to be a freak of nature!) and my co-teacher had meetings that she needed to attend. So, needless to say, we are a little behind where we should be. Regardless, I have discovered, through brilliant teaching strategy I must humbly admit ;), that the Bratome 4 students still don't know basic family vocabulary, so I am working on creating worksheets and lesson plans to help the students practice these words as well as basic sentences that introduce family members. I say "I am working" and this may cause you to slightly cock your head in a manner similar to a young puppy and wonder innocently as you stare at the glowing computer screen: "well, gosh Sadie, (or as my new European friend Jess might say: blimey) I thought that you were supposed to be doing this with your co-teacher". Yes. Yes I am though because I have had many a revelation about the condition of Thai thought processes, I have decided that lesson planning with my co-teacher is going to take longer than I thought and doing it on my own at this point in time is simply what I am going to have to do. I will spare you the analogy and thought processes that went into this (though they ARE good, so if you are curious, drop me a line letting me know that you would like to be privy to this genious discovery...and, hey, while you are at it, you might as well let me know how you are doing...come on people, if that's not a hint I don't know what is. My email address is :) ). I feel like this is a good time to let you in on a little secret: the picture to the left was not taken by me or any of my is a picture that comes stock on every computer and as I didn't want to lose your attention and I have no pictures of my own to share because the computer won't let me upload my own, I had to resort to using that one. Have no fear, the first picture is legitimately Thailand. Anyway, back to my work. The text books that the Thai students use here are... [clears throat] horrible. I would say that they do contain a good amount of accurrate information. Thankfully, that is not the problem I have to deal with. The problem comes when you see that the text books are years beyond where the students actually are (and sadly, will most likely ever be. I hate to be so pessimistic about that but as this is still an agricultural country and most people don't feel the need to leave their birth homes or families, there isn't, or at least they feel there isn't, much need to learn the language). So, one of my long term project goals is to create a text book that is linguistically efficient and written specifically for each level or what we would call, grade. I would like there to be a teacher guide as well filled with lesson planning ideas and teaching strategies. My hope is that my co-teachers will be able to help me create it so that it can be in English and Thai. I am shooting for it's completion near the end of my service. I have many more long term goals but as they are long term goals, I set them aside and focus instead on the smaller baby steps that will facilitate the sucess of those long term helping the students to answer "How are you". Actually, this is one of my biggest frustrations and I believe my explanation of it will help give a little bit if insight into the good ol' Thai school system. Every time a new class starts the students are to stand up and say "Good morning/afternoon teacher. How are you?" The teacher is supposed to respond that he or she is good and then reciprocate the question. Regardless of the fact that they practice this everyday, several times a day, when I ask them how they are doing they stare at me blankly like I am speaking a foreign language....ha, well, what do you know! Glaringly obvious proof that rote memorization is not the best method of teaching. Wow, I started off this blog by saying that I didn't have much to say. Well lucky you :)

Ok, I feel like I have written a sufficient amount of information for the time being about my work so I will move on to other, more thrilling news...Harry Potter and the world of books. I feel like I probably lost some readers at the mention of Harry Potter but I don't care; I'm in love. As some of you know, the next movie AND the next (and sadly last) book are coming out next month. Fortunately, I will be in the discusting city of Bangkok (returning from a two week training session - part two - with my fellow volunteers in the not so discusting province of...damn, I've forgotten but there are waterfalls, forests and rivers galore, and air conditioning) so indulging in two hours (maybe three as book 5 is one of the longest books!!) of Harry Potter is most definitely on my list of things to do within the next month. Oh, as another side tangent, (boy, digression has become quite the frequent demon) movie theatres are very similar to American movie theatres. The only difference, besides the lack of english of course, is that before the movie starts, all present people are to stand up and praise their king. There is a short silent movie that shows images of the king as he is working with the people and, if I remember correctly, the king's song is playing as the background music. The current king is in his 61st year of reign and is 80 years old. People are very concerned about his health and I fear his death while I am here. It will devastate the country. In all respect of course, back to Harry Potter. I need, however, some help getting the book. I don't think I would have a problem finding the book in English in Bangkok though the cost of new books in general here in addition to travel costs would make it quite expensive. I implore you, I feel like the guinea pig dog when Pavlov rang his bell; I hear July and my mouth, and that little (and by little I mean large) place in my heart saved specially for Harry Potter, waters with anticipation. I love Harry Potter, yes, but I would hate to be burdended with the weight of 10 Harry Potter books in 2, in the spirit of good ol' capitalistic competition, whoever tells me they will help me out first, is the true lucky one. I will announce the winner in 1 weeks time. I was desperately hoping that Deathly Hollows would end up 2,000 pages but, alas, I think Rowling has managed only 800 pages - weak. Also, as if I haven't written enough today, I just finished the book titled "The Time Travelers Wife". I picked it up because the cover's praise read "The next Lovely Bones" which is one of my favorite books. It is, after devouring this book, in no way similar Lovely Bones but it is, none-the-less, quite a fantastic, and now another favorite, book. Audrey Niffenegger writes about a man who is sometimes blessed, sometimes cursed, with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel. Through this admirably and amazingly well done weaving of the past, present, and future, a love story develops. Niffenegger writes with such true and passionate understanding of human emotion that the couple becomes one you would envy were they real. Through this story also comes philosophical discussion of chaos vs determinism, what time is exactly, and the potential role god plays in it all. A must read :) So it is almost dark and I fear I have nothing else to say ... haha, I laugh that THOSE are my reasons for needing to go, not because I need to do work. Isaiah, if you are miraculously still reading at this point, will you please write me an email? I don't have yours and I have some things to say to you. Ok, love to everyone. Oh, and Marla, if Josh still works there will you please ask him to send me Holly Huggins email?