My first day back at Taw Saeng and I was ready to get back to teaching. Today was a special day because one of the Thai teachers, Dtom, was leaving. She has been here for 2 years, but her mother is ill and is having a hard time getting around, so she is moving back to the village to help her family. The kids were very sad, as were the staff. I don’t know how we will replace her; she’s so good at her job. She teaches art and computers (neither of which I am qualified to do) as well as songs, games with the kids and is just amazing.
Judy brought art supplies and special paper for the kids to make goodbye cards. My class ended up being a quick review of what they had learned on Tuesday (school supplies, which I also know now, thanks to Lucy) and then they went to work on their cards. Have I mentioned how amazing these kids are at art? They can draw really good likenesses of family members, animals, anything you can think of, pretty much. I can barely manage stick figures on a good day.
After the kids were done, they went downstairs for dinner and as they went in to the building in their class lines, they each gave Dtom their card. I don’t know how she wasn’t a crying mess; I certainly would have been!
I said goodbye but then realized that I would see Dtom tomorrow. The reason the kids will not see her is because we are having a special day for the kids over 9 years tomorrow. It’s part of the prevention side of TS. I’ll explain more about it in tomorrow’s post.
As I headed home, I had the Song Thaew drop me at the piano shop near my house. The day before, when we were hanging out with Ruth and Sacha, we discussed the woefully out of tune piano Sacha has. She explained that she has tried several times to get someone to come tune it, with no success. Basically, they always say they will call her to arrange a time and then never do, and she is too busy to follow up on it. Well, I just cannot stand playing an out of tune piano, and I don’t think the neighbors should be forced to listen to one either, so I said I’d stop off at the piano shop the next day and would split the cost if I could get someone to come out to tune it.
So. The piano shop. I walked in, and just the owner was there. I said the requisite “Sah wat dee ka” (hello) and asked if they tuned pianos. He said yes, and asked where I lived. I whipped out my handy dandy Big Map Of Chiang Mai and pointed to my street. He said “That’s close!” and I said “Yeah. Can you do it?” He asked me for more specific directions, and if I spoke Thai. I said “No, but my neighbor does.” So I called up Ruth, and she answered and I told her to give directions to the piano tuner so we could finally have a working piano! She set it all up, found out the price and we were good to go. Tomorrow at 4pm we will have an in tune piano!
When I got home, I decided to relax a bit and watch some season one Big Bang Theory. You guys, that show is funny. I mean, I already know that it’s funny because I have been watching the current season, but the first season is REALLY funny for a first year show. Well, in the midst of my laugh fest, I get a text from the visa coordinator at Kijkandee Foundation, which is the parent NGO of Taw Saeng and are the ones getting my work permit and year long visa. She says I have to come in tomorrow at 10:30am to turn in all the paperwork for the work permit. I am so not prepared for this!
I have to turn in: transcripts (fine, I brought them with me, I have no idea why, but here they are), 12 visa pictures (these are not the same size as passport pictures, they are 2x2 inches, and I have not had a chance to do them yet), a medical report with a syphilis check (why? I have NO IDEA) and my passport.
Well, first of all, I had agreed to help with the special event at TS that was beginning at 9am, and I was supposed to meet them there at 8:30am, so this means I have to bail on that commitment. Not to mention, where do I go to get the medical thing done, how long does it take to process, what does it cost, etc. Then I have to worry about getting visa pictures taken and how long they take to develop. All before 10:30! I was obviously freaking out.
First, I called Rob and he gave me some advice and said it was ok for me to miss the 8:30 meetup. Then, I called the visa coordinator and she told me what hospital to go to. I found it on the map and circled it so I could show it to a Song Thaew driver. I still owed Ruth money for the plane ticket she bought me on her credit card as well as for the piano tuning the following day so when she got back from massages with her brother, she came by. I filled her in on all the distressing stuff, and like the amazing person she is, she was just like “Oh, I’ll drive you. What time do you need to be there?” I was like “No way! It is too too early. I have to be there at 7am!” Apparently, she wanted to go to that neighborhood for breakfast anyway, so she insisted on driving me. That alleviated some stress so I was able to sleep!
Oh, but we got good news today. My sponsor child (I’m gonna call her Cassie) has spent the past week with her family and they came by today to go look at Ning’s house to see if they want to let her live there with Ning and Faa. They liked it and Cassie loved it so she is going to live with Ning from after Song Kran festival on! Great news! I’ll still get to see her and she can still come by the center. I’m very excited by these developments.