Gerry-Rigged With Joel: Tortillas

Fact: Thai food is awesome.  It’s spicy, flavorful, plentiful, and more importantly, cheap.  So much cheaper than western foods here in Surat.  However, as someone who has grown up used to having a great variety of cuisines on my plate, eating only Thai food all the time can become a bit…. meh.  Sure, you could go to any number of the restaurants here in Surat and get western foods like pasta, pizza, or burgers.  The only issue with eating western out is that its so much more expensive than eating Thai out.

There is of course one super simple answer to this conundrum… cooking your own western foods.  Believe it or not, it’s easy, and if done right (large batches with plenty of left overs) it can easily be much cheaper than eating out!  This past week I had quite the hankering for some Mexican food.  Peppers/onions? Check.  Chicken? Check. Salsa supplies? Check.  Tortillas?  Ahhhhhh…

Sure I could have bought them at Tops, for something ridiculous like 80 baht for 12 (a complete guess!).  Or I could easily make them myself for cheaper.  So that’s what I decided to do.  Here’s the recipe!

Picture of us preparing tortillas for our recent fajita fiesta.

Picture of us preparing tortillas for our recent fajita fiesta.

The tortillas cooking in the wok.

The tortillas cooking in the wok.

Chewy Flour Tortillas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup lukewarm milk (2% is fine)

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes covered with a wet cloth.  Flour a surface and roll out using a well floured rolling pin. Cook (no oil) in a hot skillet until it begins to brown and then flip over.

Fill them with anything your heart desires for a tasty and inexpensive feast!

Sports Day!

Well, it’s right around the corner!  Rumor has it the famous Sports Day at Thida will take place in about a month, July 16-17th.  This time around I know exactly what to prepare for!  Last year was quite the experience, as the few weeks leading up to the event, each day a cry of, “You’re got to cheer!  You’ve got to cheer all day, all night!” with drums pounding.  This was happening while the little Anubans were napping and I always wondered how they got their shut eye!

I’ve been told we won’t be going to the Stadium gym this year.  I think I lost 5 lbs sweating inside there last year playing volleyball, football (soccer if you will) and the relay race thing I can’t quite put a name to.  This year, I believe the teachers from Old Thida will be playing the teachers from New Thida/MEP in some sort of competition.  Better make a run to Big C for a headband and wristbands.

We haven’t been called out to the assembly area as of yet for a bit of cheeky afternoon chairball, but I think it’s only a matter of time.  It was tough last year to not have the competitive spirt take over, even playing with the kiddos!

The only elephant in the room at this point is……who will be told to dress up in the clown outfit for the parade like Teacher Dave did last year.  On probably the hottest day of the year, he could be seen strutting down the streets of Surat in full gear, makeup unblemished, pumping the MEP sign.  Classic stuff.

It was adorable to see all the little students marching in traditional Thai dress in the parade with their batons!  I still remember my old student, Pun Pun, dressed like a Green Day rocker, bright purple hair and all.

We’ll find out next month what Sports Day 2015 is all about….but whatever it is, surely it will be something to write and post pictures of here!

First Month at Thida

It feels like we’ve only been back at school for 2 weeks, but here we are pushing into July!  With a new school year bring many new changes, faces, and ideas.  It’s been great to see all of the new teachers take charge of their classrooms, bond with their students, and put their unique stamp at Thidamaepra!

I’ve never been the creative one, but one of our new teachers, Brady, really enjoys doing layouts/media formatting (not sure if that’s the correct word, but I’ll run with it).  He created a really cool format for the MEP newsletter that looks awesome–something I don’t think I could’ve ever done!  I’m hoping the students, administration, and parents enjoy the first edition.  We’ve incorporated a few teacher spotlights, some fun English tidbits, and a nice welcome back recap featuring a group shot from Sister Nara’s birthday assembly last week.

It’s been very pleasing to see all the teachers put in the hard work to make their classes (and MEP as a whole) a great success!  Coming back for my second year, some of my ideas and things I did in the classroom last year grew a bit stale–I’ve definitely taken a few ideas from other teachers and applied them in my room!

One of the best parts as a head teacher has been seeing how well all the new teachers and staff interact and support one another.  There’s always a nice back and forth exchange of ideas and support when we’re stuck for ideas or need a way to implement an idea for one of our lessons.

As we push into July, it means that midterms are right around the corner (already!).  As quickly as the first 6 weeks have come and gone means it’s that much more crucial to accomplish as much as we can before our October break!


Wai Kru Day

Last week at school we celebrated Wai Kru day, also know as ‘Teacher’s Day!’ Wai Kru day is a ceremony celebrated amongst schools in Thailand where the students pay respect to their teachers to express appreciation and love.

No classes took place periods 2 or 3 at Thida on Teacher’s day, instead all students and teachers proceeded to the domed area where ceremonies took place. The Sisters, teachers and students sang numerous songs and read several prayers to commemorate the special day in the Thai school year calendar. It was a joyful and heartwarming morning where representatives of each class showed admiration for their particular teacher by acknowledging them with a flowering plant.

The students at Thida are amongst some of the most kind and loveable children I have ever met. Days like these really make teaching in Thailand a unique experience.




First Super English Party of the Year!

After a superb yet busy start back to school, what better way to relax and get to know everyone a little more than over a feast of great western cuisine, great refreshments and great company. Sweet Kitchen never disappoints that’s for sure! Peter treated the Super English teachers across Thida, Noonoy and STIS to a banquet complete with roasted chicken, macaroni cheese, salad, vegetables, bread, Ice-cream and more. Naturally complemented by a tasteful variety of drinks, too! Of course after at least a month away from home now, people really enjoyed a taste of home. Red wine and macaroni cheese were personal winners for me!

Still so early on in the year, having the time to relax and enjoy getting to know more about each other outside the working environment of school is a much needed and really nice gesture. With not much time to spare during the school day and week, events like this are always something to look forward to.

After generous portions finishing several plates full of food, as a returning teacher I knew what was coming and tactically began to fill my plate before everyone caught on and proceeded to do the same! It was pretty funny to watch everyone battle it out becoming a table full of scavengers prizing food whilst simultaneously being served scoops of delicious choc-chip, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream! Leftovers for the next day went down a treat with everyone!

Sweet Kitchen is a personal favourite of mine and I’m sure a new favourite of some of the newer teachers. It made for a superb evening and I’m already counting down the days until the next Super English event! Thanks Super!

Sweet Kitchen

Welcome Back!

And it begins… A new year at Thida, a new energy from the students and a new level of organized chaos amongst all. After clearing out my desk and saying bye to some missed faces only a few months back, it feels great to be back not only in Thailand but at Thida. Returning to numerous overly decorated drawings from my students wedged between the glass pane that sits on my former desk, the first day flooded me with an ore of love, excitement, and nerves. Who would have thought it, for some strange reason I felt more nervous beginning my second year than I did my first. Bizarre.

The same bunch of loveable monsters from last year greeted me that morning chanting ‘Teacher Emma, Teacher Emma’, I felt like I’d never been away. As the proud parents stood peering in through the windows everyone wanted to talk and the energy in the classroom was as I explained before, a fantastic somewhat organised chaos!

It was great to see the students again. Apparently not only I had gained a few pounds over the break, the students looked huge! Compared to the tiny tots of Anuban 3 last year, they now look like Prathom students. Well… of course, Top hasn’t grown much and still only reaches the waist of some of the larger students. Meemee’s growth on the other hand was explained that lunchtime when I saw her completely indulged and stuffing her little cheeks full of a creamed cake. Nevertheless, still a hidden favourite of mine.

It’s great to be back at Thida, with the growing enrollment this year there is even more love, more madness and more students everywhere. It will take some time this year for my students to adjust to sitting at desks, on chairs with bags, books and pencil cases all at their reach. With repetition, consistency, and a regular classroom system slowly but surely they’re getting progressively better and I’m hoping to have this mastered come mid-semester.

With the great bunch of English teachers we have at Thida this year, I’m confident that we can aim high for another wonderful and successful year. I have no doubt that this one will bring as much fun as the last!

Back to school!

It was an odd feeling clearing out a year’s worth of accumulated things from my desk back in February.  So many little items that reminded me of a fun time with my class or a small present from a students.  I had more Cookie Run stickers than I knew imaginable!

It brought me great joy to take those same things back to Thida recently to decorate my desk.  With a new year brings new changes, of course.  Some of my more colorful boys, Aim and Pun Pun, shipped off to school in Bangkok.  Prae, or ‘Praery Potter’ as she referred to herself, is now at Old Thida in the IEP program.  It was that first day back I knew things would be a bit different.

With Thida’s rapidly growing enrollment, P4-6 are now on the 5th floor of the new Thida building.  My legs get a workout on the occasional days I take the stairs.  I definitely do miss the convenience of being in the MEP building, as I often times forget things and could send a student down.  The new classrooms are bigger and cooler (temperature-wise).  The P4-6ers now eat their lunch in the classroom vs. behind the MEP building.  Luckily, they still find the time after eating to harass me while I’m eating.  🙂

While the Anuban 3-P3 students have one main Thai teacher in the room, the P4-6 students have three different teachers–one for math, English, and science.  I’ve messed up my time schedule several times already, seeing how I was so used to using first period for English.  Myself and the other teachers will have to monitor our time more closely this year, as opposed to last when I could extend my English period into math a bit if I deemed appropriate.  Gone is the 2-hour morning block during periods 1-2.  Each day has a completely new order of classes!

Things are back to ‘normal’ for my class already.  They know my routine, how I like to run things, and my system.  I’ve tried to integrate the newer students (new to Thida as well) by learning on the fly.  Re-arranging the seating chart after the second week was a good move–all the new students have a seasoned vet from P3 to help them adjust!

I’m hoping this year will be as much fun as last year….just with a little less talking between my students!!