50th Anniversary. Community Service. Chiang Mai
The month of February was extremely busy. I was planning on focusing on building relationships with my class, especially as Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and I was looking forward to celebrating!
Around the last week of January I received an Email inviting me to the 50th anniversary of AFS in Thailand. I was thrilled for the invite, as I had been looking forward to this event all year. Unfortunately, not all the exchange students were invited to attend. They selected 12 students, mostly located in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.
We met in the morning on Saturday the 1st of February. I had only a 20 minute ride in a taxi, from my house to the AFS office. There was already Hannes from Germany passed out on the couch in the main lobby, he was staying in the North-East region of Thailand and had a very long bus ride last night. Some staff let me go to a room on the second floor where I could relax until the others came. I enjoyed chatting in Thai with an intern. Rey Carlo from the Philippines arrived an hour later. He is residing in north Bangkok.
The other exchange students actually met us at Central Plaza, and Central World. There were three exchange students who I had never met before, because they were from the first wave (April- March), Misato from Japan, Valentina from Chile, and Cinthia from Bolivia. Once we met up with the other exchange students we went to a dance studio in Central World. We had a very lose audition, composed of a teacher forming some basic dance poses and us copying. I was very thankful that I had recently resumed taking Thai dance at my school, even though what we went over was indeed very simple.
I was originally placed with Silvia, from Costa Rica, along with Jakob and Hannes both from Germany. We were going to do a dance from the Central Region, but I was switched to dance with Janine, from Ohio, and Johannes from Norway. Our dance comes from the South and the girls use fans.
The first wave students were together with a dance from the North. Their dance uses traditional umbrellas.
The final dance used only boys; Luigi from Italy, Jean Ephrem also from Italy but he’s half French, and Rey Carlo. This dance uses large “peidakon” masks and is from the Isaan (the north east).
We were given about 40 minutes to learn our dances which I felt was plenty of time, then we reviewed and went to our hotel. At first I thought we would stay in Bangkok, and thought possibly the Rama Gardens because I saw it mentioned in the invite. Actually we went back to Nontaburi, and got a hotel close to the AFS office. Over dinner we tried to figure out where to practice for the remaining week, because P’Nad our AFS volunteer discovered that we didn’t have the studio reserved for everyday. After a long discussion we decided that we would try to fit in the AFS office to practice. We held another group meeting inside the hotel. Unfortunately, there was a terrible echo, and some other guests were not so pleased.
The rest of the week we practiced and had group bonding time. Really, we only needed about an hour a day to practice, and we got to check in with the professionals on Wednesday and Friday. The performance itself was on Saturday and was held in the Rama Gardens Resort. Ambassadors and AFS Staff from all over the world attended.
The day after was really sad, because we said good-bye. This was the last time for us to see the first wave students, because they returned home within the next week.
Back to school
The week after, I was at Pathumwilai School. I was looking forward to seeing my friends again, and also Valentine’s Day that Tuesday. Sadly, ALL the boys in ม6 had Lor Dor Training, which is a soldier preparation camp that lasted until Wednesday. Also, all my friends were busy preparing for the O-NETS examinations which they took that weekend. I decided to take the opportunity to try out some new classes like Thai Dance, and Thai Art. This was ok, but I would’ve preferred taking classes as usual, but ม6 had special classes in the morning and my host sister said that everyone was very serious.