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Thai Teacher Visits With Rowan’s Students

 

 

 

 

By SUSAN SHINN Salisbury Post

 

Students in Thailand know all about Britney Spears and Madonna, but they don’t know who Spongebob Squarepants is.

Elementary and middle-school­ers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools have had the opportunity to learn all about student life in Thailand the past couple of weeks, thanks to a visit from Miss Tan, who is a Professor at Kanchanaburi Agricul­tural and Technology College. The school is located about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Bangkok, the coun­try's capital.

 

Miss Tan is visiting schools dur­ing August as part of an exchange program created by Meredith Lentz, a junior and Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who taught at Miss Tan's school for two months last summer.

 

Miss Tan will make numerous presentations to public and private schools here.    She spoke to seventh-graders at Southeast Middle School on Tues­day. Miss Tan opened by telling the students her given name. She then said that most people in Thailand have nicknames, and hers was Tan, pronounced "Don."

 

Miss Tan asked a student to find Thailand on a map. It is south of China and borders Laos and Viet­nam to its east. "We have beautiful beaches, and people come from all over the world to the beaches," said Miss Tan, adding that "The Beach," star­ring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed in Thailand.

 

At her school, students study farming, computers, science, geog­raphy and English. In the country, most people farm, she said, but oc­cupations such as medicine, nurs­ing and law enforcement can be found in Thailand's cities.

 

 

 

Miss Tan told the middle-school­ers about a typical day for Thai stu­dents. "Students come to the flagpole in the morning and say prayers and sing the national anthem," she said. The school's director also talks to the students during this time. Students must take off their shoes before they go to class; no shoes are worn inside. Students stand and say "good morning" when the teacher enters the room, and then stand again at the end of class and say "thank you." Southeast's teachers were im­pressed by this show of respect. Miss Tan taught the group how to say "Hello" in Thai, which is "Sawadeeka." It is said with a bow, and all of the students got up and practiced saying "sawadeeka" and bowing.

 

The Thai letters ate quite differ­ent from the English alphabet, and Miss Tan demonstrated by writing students' names in English and then Thai.

 

  

 

 

 Students learned about Thai dress. Both men and women wear sarongs, and Cameron Parks, Javier Jaimes and Akiem Scarbor­ough modeled the colorful Thai silk wraps.

 

 

 

 

 The all-purpose wraps, Miss Tan said, could be used as bathing suits, to hold a baby, to wear for farm work, or to protect the face from the sun. Miss Tan said that Thai people eat sticky rice with every meal, ei­ther mixed with pork, chicken or fish. Thai food is also very spicy and very hot, she said. Thais use forks and spoons to eat, but no knives, she said.

 

Miss Tan also talked about sports, another top­ic that drew interest from South­east stu­dents. Thai students, she said, like soccer best - they call it football ­along with badminton, tennis, volleyball and basketball. They play a game called seprak­takraw, using a bamboo ball. It's similar to hackeysack, and you can hit the ball with your knee, ankle or head, but not your hand or arm.

 

Miss Tan brought along many postcards of Thailand, with scenes of the country, as well as pictures she'd made of student life. Students looked over these pictures and postcards, along with Thai handi­crafts such as umbrellas and fans, following her presentation and a question-and-answer session. Several students came to the front of the media center, along with the group's three teachers, Janita King, Ben Davis and Allan Tenney, to learn a Thai dance. They tilted their right hands, with palms facing out and thumbs bent back, while making a motion similar to "OK" with their left hands. As they brought their right hands down and their left hands up, the motions changed hands.

  

The students also learned that Thailand is a Kingdom, with a royal family who lives in an ornate palace in Bangkok. People love the king and often have pictures of him in their homes, Miss Tan said. Most people in Thailand are Buddhists, and there are Buddhist temples called wats in which the monks live all over the country.

 

Because so many European and American tourists visit Thailand, most people in Bangkok speak Eng­lish as their second language, Miss Tan said. Movies are in English and Thailand has MTV and fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonald's and Burger King, but no Nickelodeon.

 

Answering students' ques­tions, Miss Tan said that there are bears, tigers, monkeys and elephants in the country, and that people keep dogs, cats, birds and fish as pets. Most people ride motorbikes, and you only have to be 9 years old to have a license to drive one. There are three seasons in Thailand: summer, the rainy season and winter. The grading scale is similar to students' grades here, and people can marry whomever they choose, generally when they are in their 20s.

 

 

Tenney's students, he said, love to learn things about other countries. "So, many of them haven't ever been out of North Carolina. The Internet really connects them, which is great."

 

 

Miss Tan left the names of Thai middle-schoolers with the teachers, so that students here could have a pen pal in Thailand. Miss Tan said that students here are outgoing and have asked a lot of good questions. This is her first visit to Amer­ica. She met Lentz in San Francisco. They' have visited Carowinds and will visit Washington, D.C., this week­end. She shot four rolls of film her first week here, she said. She will be teaching sci­ence when she returns to her school in Thailand, and spend time talking to teachers and things.”

 

Miss Tan is being taken to different schools by a group of Rowan ,County high school graduates: from North Rowan, Lentz; Jonathan Williams, a senior at Clemson University; Jenna Wooten, a sophomore at Lenoir-Rhyne College; Carly Young, a junior at UNC; Kelly Honeycutt, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Greens­boro; and from East Rowan, Lynn Plummer, a junior at the University Of' North Carolina at Charlotte.

On Thursday, Aug. 21, the community will have the chance to meet Miss Tan during a presentation at Central United Methodist Church, 20 Fourth St., Spencer. Her presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m., with a reception to fol­low.

 

Contact Susan Shinn at 704­797-4289 or ~shinn@salisbury­post.com. I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TSC is a non-profit 501(c) 3 corporation incorporated under the laws of the state of Texas

 

 

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