I teach at a public high school in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, Thailand. During the celebration of Loi Krathong, Thailand’s Festival of Lights, I was able to see the huge pride Thais take in their holidays. I had no idea what Loi Krathong was until I noticed my students skipping class to make amazing floats from tree trunks, banana leaves, a candle, and incense sticks – their krathongs. On the night of the full moon, Thais let go of their anger, make a wish, and launch their krathongs down the river.
On the day of the celebration the Thai teachers informed me classes would be cancelled for a ceremony. About twenty minutes before the ceremony started, teachers came into my office and began to dress me up in a traditional Thai costume. I felt so honored that they asked me to wear it. One of the Thai teachers led me throughout the school to take pictures with everyone saying, “Picture with farang teacher? Ten baht!” It was hilarious!
After the pictures I thought my role in the festivities was over, but I was wrong. I was then asked to model my Thai costume on stage, in front of about 2,000 people. I was joined by three other foreign teachers in costume when I realized I had been entered in a ‘Who wore it best’ contest. Lucky me, I won!
All in all, it was one of the best and unexpected experience I’ve had so far in Thailand. The Thais are so welcoming and always try to include you in their culture. The appreciation you receive from the community for teaching English is truly unbelievable and I couldn’t be happier that they had me take part in their big day.