Author Archives: Lleij Schwartz

Did you know you have died?

One of the best things about living in Thailand is DMC TV, or as I affectionately call it, Buddha TV. DMC TV is the media branch of the Dhammakaya Foundation, which seeks to promote meditation and Buddhist studies around world. Among its claims to fame are building the world’s largest public building, and of course, this little gem…khun roo mai, khun nan kae dtai? Produced for its kiddie show, there are no words to describe the utter genius of this music video: from the skeletons doing the Batusi, to the images of the cute puppy and kitten placed at the lyric kai, kai, kai ga dtawng dtai, to the utterly surreal image of the army of cloned nurses dancing in zombie-like synchronicity.

Of course, the message of the song rocks as well. The reason children are such obnoxious lil’ snots is because they have no sense of their mortality. Children need to learn from a very early age, as the song states, “If you’re afraid, you will die./If you aren’t afraid, you will die.” Sadly, sort of this video would never get any airplay in America due to fat ignorant soccer moms from Kansas.

Oh yeah…there is also a great kiddie music video about cock fighting, complete with dancing chickens!

The Education Scene

“Wow, it’s like the [American] Wild West out there!”
–my friend Matt after hearing about the rampant corruption and rather lax enforcement of certain laws in Thailand.

As you know from my previous post, I am an educator. Previously, I taught in the States for three years before coming to Thailand. Education and teaching are things I take very seriously. That is why I am totally distraught over the complete farce that passess for private education here. It is a truism around the world that teachers do not get the respect they deserve from society. What is the old adage? “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.” Unfortunately this attitude pervails in modern Thai society. Many people think that anyone can teach, after all everyone has been in a classroom, so everyone knows what teaching is about, right? I find it curious that we do not have the same view towards doctors. I mean, everyone has seen a doctor at some point in their life, so everyone should know how to do the job, yes? I am utterly appaled at the complete lack to training and experience most forgien “teachers” have in Thailand. In my school, I am one of two teachers who actually have a degree in Education. [There are about 100 forgien teachers working at the school). Now while there are a few teachers who do not have an Education degree who do the job and do it well, the vast majority of teachers working at the school have no business whatsoever being in a classroom, much less around children.

Indeed, most forginers comming to Thailand see teaching as an easy way to make money for the six months to two years that they will be staying: All you have to do is dress the part, speak English, and yell at kids. When these people find out that it takes more than that, they get upset. Having no knowledge or experience in classroom management, they blame the poor behavior of the kids on the fact that they are spoiled or on “Thai culture,” instead of realizing that they can’t control a classroom. When these same people find out that buying a degree from a shop at Banglamphoo doesn’t automatically provide the mastery in pedagogy, linguistics, and other subject matter needed to be a successful educator, they develop a cynical attitude towards the profession and burn out…just doing enough to scrape by and finish their contract, or if it gets bad enough, wait until the weekend and go AWOL.

Now the blame doesn’t rest soely upon the shoulders of the forgien teachers. Many times, it is greedy Thai administrators that also contribute to the degridation of the teaching profession.

An English teacher in Thailand

As you can see, I’m new around here…so let me introduce myself.

I’m Pompenkroo…but you can call me Li. I am currently living in Bangkok (Well Thonburi, if you want to get all technical), where I teach English at a bilingual school. I am 28 years old, and an American of mixed heritage. My mother is an American of Jewish (both Ashkenzai and Sephardic) descent, and my father was from Trinidad and is of African, Indian (as in Curry and Bollwood…not Maize and Dances with Wolves), and Chinese descent. I’ll eventually post a picture of myself so you can see what happens when the United Nations gets together and decides to have a baby. In addition, I am a practicing Ch’an (Chinese Zen) Buddhist. I also have been dating a lovely girl for the past month, who speaks very little English. Luckly, I have been picking up Thai rather quickly…so we are able to find a way to communicate, and in that communication the words we speak are simplified to their raw, beautiful essence.

Anyway, I moved to Thailand right after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Master’s degree in teaching English and TESOL. I am here to gain some experience teaching abroad so I can build up my resume for ESL teaching jobs back in the States…or so I thought. Now that I’ve had a few months to slide into my new life here in Thailand, I’m finding that I can see myself living here for a much longer time that I anticipated.

I don’t know what I will exactly do with this blog; however, I do know what I will not do with this blog. I will not:

1.) Write about the Sexpat/Go-Go bar scene, as I am not a fat disgusting hairy white man in my late 40’s who possesses no social skills in any cultural setting and is either a tickled pedophile or a sociopathic misogynist. That being said, I find no fault in the sex work industry, yet I think Western Sexpats can learn a lot from the conduct from the Japanese businessmen who visit such places and behave themselves.

2.) Write the “OFMG!!!! THAILAND IS SO EXOTIC AND COOL!!! WOW! BUDDHISM AND DIFFERENT CULTURAL THINGS AND STUFF!!!” blog. The last thing Thailand needs is more neo-colonialist rhetoric that paints it into a almost-fantasy-like wonderland that is just waiting to be explored (i.e. exploited) by the so-called “West.” First of all, I am a Buddhist, so the national religion doesn’t really seem all that special to me. Although, I must admit the Thai focus on ghosts and spirits does seem unusual to me…on the other hand I’m sure most Thais would find my meditative practices and Koan study to be just as weird. Secondly, when you exoticify a culture or person, you inherently alienate that persons humanity. If I do anything in this blog, I will focus more on commonalities between our cultures than differences.

So what’s left? I am sure my blog will focus on my idiosyncratic adventures and contain lots of Menippian-style satire. I might even use the F-word (no, not Farang) from time to time. So, if any of the above bothers you, then please refrain from reading my blog. Regardless, I hope you’ll join me for the ride.