Several times during the waterfall picnic we were asked by Mack to help out at the college he teaches at. We said as long as we didn’t have to speak any Lao we were in, as the few phrases we have learned have elicited more laughs than understanding.
So this afternoon, like the good natured folks that we try to be, we went along down to the school as promised. My first class had 14 second year kids in it and I didn’t have an agenda. Gulp. I initially thought we were going to merely assist the teachers but that wasn’t the case. Mack sent us into the rooms independently. I had flashbacks. The know-it-alls in the front answering all the questions without being prompted. The smarty-pants in the middle who would reply perfectly when asked. The slackers in the back with their phones out unwilling to avert their glossy gazes. I remembered being put on the spot in school and HATING it. So naturally, I put the slackers on the spot. I sweat bullets though, I really did. Overall it went well – we got a couple words on the board, talked about words which sound similar of have multiple meanings. I helped with tricky pronunciation. They asked a lot of questions about me and why I don’t have kids and about my favorite music. Then they wanted me to sing. I made some deal in which they would sing first, and then I would (thankfully, my part didn’t materialize). Minutes later after some discussion among the group almost every darn kid in there was singing a tune (the slacker slacked), I learned later, about a man and a woman who meet at a river independently and, ultimately, end up tra-la-laaing all the way home.
The students were all painstakingly respectful with their smiley sabai dees (hellos) and nops (prayer hands greeting). I gave them my email address and said my goodbyes. At break time I found Brad who informed me that he wasn’t yet done. His class contained a meager but eager five students and he was hot to get back to his kids.
The second session was different. Brad was put with with my original, somewhat unfocused, group and I was in a larger class of first year students. The teacher was strict and had us do painful intros. Apparently they all love dogs because they are pretty. I was hungry. It was late.
In the end we all had a great time. The students really seemed to appreciate practicing their English (obviously they had no choice), and we felt good helping out. The kids were motivated to practice, and it was clear they were starving for the time. I was invited to the village Friday for some more teaching. We made plans to meet Mack later in the week for dinner after we return from a Muang Sing moto ramble.
We returned to our guesthouse for dinner because we had had enough of being harassed by the tribal ladies at the night market. We have enough bracelets to choke a mule and we don’t want the other “stuff” either(for the tenth time).