Wai Khru (Teacher Appreciation Day). Our own little Rose Parade!

Today was Wai Khru day at Sa-Nguan Ying School. Loosely translated, it is teacher appreciation day, but that makes it sound like a greeting card holiday – which it most certainly is not. This was a day full of preparation, ritual, ceremony — and creativity!

Wai Khru ceremonies take place in most schools in Thailand near the beginning of the school year. The purpose is for students to show respect and gratitude to teachers, and to ask for blessings in their studies. At Sa-Nguan Ying, each class created elaborate, beautiful flower arrangements and offerings of all kinds. I was FLOORED that our students created these works of art in one day. (Yesterday afternoon!)

DNA! A group of M6's (12th graders) working hard!

DNA! A group of M6’s (12th graders) working hard.

Finished! I think these two are pretty proud. :)

Finished! I think these two are pretty proud.

After preparing their arrangements yesterday, the students and teachers at SY School gathered in the auditorium (a room I didn’t know existed until now – it’s beautiful!) this morning at 8:30. The ceremonies were done twice (Mathayoms 1-3, and then Mathayoms 4-6), because here’s half of our students:

A sea of students in the auditorium. Annnd now I realize why my blonde mop makes me instantly stand out!

A sea of students in the auditorium. Annnd now I fully realize why my blonde mop makes me instantly stand out.

After a Buddhist chant and opening remarks, a representative from each class brought their arrangements up to the stage, knelt in front of the teachers, and made their offerings. It was amazing to see the reverence that was reflected on each student’s face — though most were smiling and giggling during the ceremonies, the students holding the offerings were focused and serious.

I could smell the sugar on this cute little guy!

I could smell the sugar on this cute little guy.

Stunning!

Stunning!

The pictures say much more than I can about this day. In Thai culture, parents are the two most important people in a child’s life, helping him/her develop into a good, honest, thoughtful and kind person. This seems obvious. But next on that important list, right after parents, is that child’s teacher – the giver of knowledge. So Wai Khru is the annual ceremony to offer thanks and respect for that gift of knowledge. It is a wonderful tradition.

Students presenting their offerings to the teachers of SY School.

Students presenting their offerings to the teachers of SY School.

I haven't seen so many intricate arrangements since, literally, watching the Rose Parade.

I haven’t seen so many intricate arrangements since, literally, watching the Rose Parade.

Sidenote: It’s become more and more clear to me lately that life really boils down to a simple equation: you get what you give. It’s not a crazy revelation — but here I am, feeling gratitude, on a day created purposefully for students to show gratitude to ME.

I’m grateful for my students and the opportunity to teach them. For the fact that I was born in the place I was, with the parents I have, and the opportunities that were created for me along the way. For luck and the ability to work hard. For choice, and for the freedom to throw my stuff in storage and teach English on the other side of the planet, just because I want to.

And for my teachers, who somehow shaped me and my brain into the person I am today, without taking much credit at all.

Thank you.

Me and my M1's. Lucky to teach these kiddos!

Me and my lovely Mathayam 1’s.

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