This week we celebrated Wai Kru Day, which is similar to Teacher Appreciation Day but literally translates to Bow to Your Teacher Day or Hello to Teacher! Day, which I think are far more appropriate and amusing titles.
To wai, or bow, in Thailand is both a sign of respect and a greeting. Sometimes, when we’re ending class, I feel like I spend a solid five minutes wai-ing to my students (since they wai to me, and it’s rude to not wai back). Wai Kru Day took this to a whole new level.
Teachers in Thailand traditionally command a decent amount of respect. My students greet me and my co-teacher in unison at the start of every class, and thank us at the end. On Wai Kru Day, we all sat on stage in the auditorium in our Lanna clothes (the traditional Northern Thai outfit for special occasions) while every student in our grade walked to the stage, bowed, handed us flowers, bowed again, and sat down.
Of course, this was after a whole ceremony in Thai that I couldn’t understand, which mostly consisted of the students singing to us. We also watched a video about Wai Kru Day that was pretty inappropriate for nine year olds, in which the teacher a) gave her lunch and a new pair of shoes to a poor kid in her class, b) ripped the cigarette out of a girl’s hand, chased the girl down as she ditched school and jumped on the back of her bad-boy boyfriend’s motorcycle, and then showed up with a male colleague just in time to save her from being raped, c) tried to break up a fight, got punched in the face, and then laid on the ground looking emotionally hurt, and d) got a flower from the boy who had hit her on Wai Kru Day and pet his hair in an oddly sexual way while he bowed to her. Then it showed all these troubled teens as responsible adults, bowing to their (now older) teacher in thanks for keeping them out of harm’s way. I couldn’t help but laugh quietly from my seat in the back row because it was so awkward.
Aside from the weird video, it was a really cool day. And I got a lot of pretty flowers for my desk.
I took a whole bunch of pictures of my students at our P4 ceremony, and then promptly accidentally deleted them all. Luckily, Kyle took a few pictures of his students in the M2/M3 ceremony.