Even though all government schools are under a mandate to have foreign teachers, Bansankhong (BSK) could care less what those teachers do beyond showing up to teach.
Are you fighting off the worst flu of your life? Who cares. Show up and suffer through it! Yes, even if you are about to pass out with a fever (True story. I got a back-handed comment when I was sick with a fever that had me bed-ridden for two days). BSK did not provide any information other than the name of the town I needed to go to and the office I needed to visit, “You need to go to Laos, Vientiane.” Thai consulate for work visa.” I would’ve had to figure everything else out on my own if my Thai family hadn’t volunteered to help me. If I’d gone alone, all travel and visa expenses would’ve been paid out of my pocket without any reimbursement. BSK didn’t even offer me a list of good places to stay or what bus line to choose.
My return was accompanied by whispers of discontent. My trip took too long (5 days instead of 2. I can sleep on the bus, right? Nevermind that there’s a 1-day wait to get your visa. Realistically, you need 4 days.). Of course, none of these complaints were given to me directly. It was a game of telephone that many Westerners consider an absurdity. So imagine my surprise when a school that likes to cut corners didn’t cut the most obvious corner: letting teachers have a bit of a break during October.
The story goes something like this.In early September we were told all teachers will have a break from October 13 until October 29 when school starts again. Foreign teachers would do an English camp from October 10-13th. Fair enough, a lot of teachers were happy about that. Many of the foreign teachers booked tickets and planned traveling during that time. In late September during a teacher’s meeting (you know, those effective ones where foreign teachers are forced to sit through 3-hr meetings in Thai without translators.), we were informed that that break had been cut down to only 1 week and English camp was cancelled. Come early October, the message changed to, “There will be no break. We have to revise the curriculum. Foreign teachers must show up each day.” To do what, exactly? Curriculum, believe it or not, which is all in Thai.
So, we showed up. We sat around and waited. We debated with each other about what we were supposed to be doing. We wondered where all the Thai teachers were. We wandered around campus trying to get answers. We couldn’t get any because no one was around. We eventually found out where we needed to be on the second day. We sat in the room and did nothing for half the day before being told, “You can go.” It was the most boggling display of indifference I have ever seen. Oh, and all those trips that other teachers planned? Lost. I’d reached my limit. I made it clear to anyone who would listen that if no real reason was given for us to come in, I would quit. I asked again what our job was. Review the curriculum and then sit down and help translate it. Really? Fine. I’ll work with whoever. 4th day rolls around. We show up again. We sit. We wait. Nothing happens. Fifth day. Nada.
You’re effin’ kidding, right?Apparently no one took me seriously. The day I handed in my letter of resignation, everyone was surprised. I did mention at one point that I could always leave. Maybe they’re not used to someone who actually means what they say.