A family of 5, Super Mom, USMC Dad, & three boys ages 5, 7, & 9. This is glimpse into the daily life of raising 3 American boys while living in Bangkok, Thailand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why International School Bangkok (ISB) is an Awesome School

Look at me go, two posts in one day...  Well all the kids are in bed and the husband went to sleep early too.  I still have some residual coffee caffeine floating in my veins so here I am.  On Monday, the 18th of November, 2013 I was able to chaperon a field trip of 8 kindergartners. They are beginning a unit in science on wood, or something like that, so they decided to take a field trip to a local lumber yard.  At 9 am, 8 kids, 4 parents and 1 teacher got in a 15 passenger van and headed out of Nichada to Samakee Road.  Samakee Road is where we go to get gas for the golf cart, go to the bicycle shop, and get photos custom framed.   I am sure there is plenty of other stuff on Samakee Road but I have yet to look or to follow it to the other end.  Once we got to the Lumber Yard there were two Thai's that worked there ready to meet us.  They walked us around and explained the difference between hard and soft wood, showed us bamboo, wood from papaya trees, eucalyptus wood, teak (and an actual teak tree), particle board, and several other types of wood.
       In addition to showing us the different types of wood, they also showed the kids different methods of cutting (chainsaw, handsaw, and a bamboo splitter).  They demonstrated what happens to young leaves from a teak tree when you squish them, they turn red, and are used to make a dye, and also explained that the cutting of teak tree's is now government regulated. We were at the lumber yard for about an hour.  Right before we got back on the bus each kid was given a digital camera to use to take photos around the yard.  Then, one of the hosts (I believe his name was Kuhn M) gave each kid two pieces of bamboo.  One is to be used as a piggy bank, the other can be used for a pencil holder.   Then, we got back on the bus and headed back to ISB.
    So, why do I think ISB is an Awesome school?  Because they take the possibilities and turn them into reality.  Maybe it's a Thailand thing, maybe it's a private school thing, I'm not sure because this is the first time I have experienced either, but I just don't see a short field trip this this happening at a public school in the states.  I was also shocked by the idea of handing a 5 or 6 year old a digital camera and saying go, take pictures of whatever you want.  The kids all knew how to use them and were pretty comfortable with them so it seems like it was not their first time.  Their teacher said that in addition to the field trip, they will be making particle board later on as part of their science unit.   I have heard of other schools saying that they take a hands on approach to science and learning but ISB follows through with it.
   Apparently field trips are a pretty common thing at ISB.  Next week I am accompanying 1st graders to Ko Kret, a local island for them to get hands on with their rocks and silt unit and I believe Justice's teacher said that they will be going to the snake farm in downtown Bangkok at some point.  Other elementary school grades have done overnight trips...and it's only November.
    On November 8th, ISB had their first "Passion Day".  Basically someone said what if we asked all the kids "if they could do or learn anything what would it be?" Then all the teachers and staff got together to come up with ways to make those passions become realities for a day.  This must have been a HUGE undertaking for the school as there were many activities that the kids went to that were off campus, like wakeboarding and scuba diving.  It was a bit more controlled for the younger kids but still very elaborate.  Arcadian, my kindergartner, went to learn about Marine life.  The teacher contacted a fish store that was able to bring in aquariums with baby sharks and misc. touchable creatures.  The children were able to put on goggles and snorkels and stick their heads in the water to watch the animals.  Brosnan attended a cooking class where they made chocolate chip cookies from start to finish, and Justice went to a computer gaming class.  ISB teamed up with places all around Bangkok including local colleges where some students were able to go to learn about things like fashion design.  The kids came home happy and excited!
     Its the big things coupled with all the small touches of ISB that I know makes the kids enjoy school and makes me happy that they have this opportunity of a lifetime.


Monday, November 18, 2013

What We do in Thailand

   The weeks are very busy for all of us and although we would like to sit at home and relax, I fear that in 3 years when we return to the states and people ask what we did, I won't have anything to tell them.  Or, the last 3 months of our time in Thailand will be spent running around like crazy people exhausting ourselves trying to do all the sightseeing we should have done over the last 3 years.   So, we do try and do things when we can and we force ourselves to leave the house at 5pm on Sunday to experience a Thai festival, or we brave the heat and humidity to see what a Thai Safari park looks like, or go to a snake farm to see what the local snakes look like (eww).   So, I am going to spend some time working backwards to show you some of those things that we have done.

Loy Krathong

Justice and Arcadian and their Loy Krathongs made at school. 
        According to Wikipedia,  Loi or Loy Krathong (Loy means to float, while Krathong is the name of the thing being floated) is a Thai holiday in which people make (or buy) decorative floats to put in the rivers.  The floats are usually made out of banana tree, banana leaves, flowers, and have incense and candles placed on them.  The Krathong, "candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong's floating symbolizes letting go of all of one's hatred, anger, and defilements." 
    The date of the festival changes every year as it coincides with the evening of the full moon in the 12th month of the traditional Thai lunar calendar, generally November for us Westerners.  This year it was on the 17th of November.  There was a live band, Western and Thai food, games, and a traditional Thai costume contest.
Loy Krathongs in Nichada Lake, the boys' are in there somewhere

 In addition to the Krathongs, there were also Lanterns for sale.  Also according to Wikipedia Loy Krathong coincides with Yi Peng where Sky Lanterns are lit and sent off in the sky like hot air balloons.  While I was taking photos the boys lit the lantern until it was full of hot air and let it sail off into the sky.   Seems a big dangerous to me, especially when a few burnt about halfway up and begin falling to the ground in a flame of fire.  The news reports I get through my email confirmed the dangers of this tradition as there were several fires throughout the country that burned homes to the ground due to these beautiful lanterns.  

Despite the heat and humidity and large crowd, it was a good night.  Maybe next year we will venture out of Nichada for the festival and go to the actual river with the locals.