Monday, October 29, 2012

Pre-Adventures In Thai

A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to discover that Sacramento had a Thai Buddhist Wat (Temple). Sacramento has a large asian population from all over south-east Asia so I’m not sure why exactly this surprised me. After researching on their website for a bit I discovered that the Wat taught Thai to anyone who was interested during the summer and that the lessons were free (awesome!) Unfortunately their lessons were about to end for the summer as its starting to get cold here in Sactown and the classes are conducted outside.

I’m taking a proactive approach to my service in Thailand so I decided that I would ask the people at the Wat if somehow lessons could be set up for me or if they knew someone who would be able to help out. To add to my delight I found that the Wat was within biking distance to my parents house. In Thailand I’m going to have to bike a lot, to work, to the market, all over and because of this I’m trying to bike as much as I can here to get used to it (I’m biking about 12 miles a day) so I hopped on my bike and headed over to the Wat.

After a 45 minute ride I got there and was quickly approached by a monk who lived at the Wat. He told me that the lessons had finished early last week. I was a little disappointed and he asked me why I wanted to learn Thai. I explained to him that I was going to be a volunteer teacher in a rural village for two years and I wanted to jump start my language lessons before training began. He was impressed and asked me where in Thailand I would be serving, I tried to explain that I didn’t know but he only spoke a little English so communicating was difficult. He asked me again and I said “maybe Issan” since its the only region I know. He got really excited because, as it turns out, he’s from Issan. He said he’d call the lady in charge of the lessons to see if they could help me out.

After ruffling through his robes and pulling out his iPhone he called the lady in charge of teaching Thai and I explained to her what it was I was looking for. She told me that she’d ask around and see if anyone wanted to volunteer since she was unable to teach me herself. The next day she called me and told me to go to visit another lady who’d help me out. I was super excited!

I went to visit the new lady, Pom, who was an older woman who owned a small embroidery shop. She sat me down in the office and with the sounds of the sewing machines in the background started our lesson. After a little bit another younger lady arrived, her name is Noi and Pom told me that Noi would be my teacher. Noi and I decided that we would meet at her house for the lessons and sometimes have them at the Wat so I could practice what i had learned with the people there.

Noi and I have met for our lessons five times now and she’s taken me to the Wat where we had lunch with the worshipers eating leftovers from the Monk’s lunch (He was very happy to see me again BTdubs). It was very tasty and everyone there was very happy to share with me and teach me about Thai culture and Buddhism.


It’s crazy how lucky I am finding Thai lessons. Let alone free lessons! All four people who helped set it up went way out of their way to help me out and I’m really grateful for their help. Especially Noi who is volunteering her time to teach me. If this is a sample of what I’m in for in Thailand I can’t wait! 73 days until I leave now!

Sa-wat-dii-krap!
-Joel

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