I’d like to learn more about teaching English through music. It was a nice idea at first, but when I was actually in the classroom and dealing with 33 sixth-graders it’s the last place I want to have a musical instrument. I'd like to know of research or actual programs of English which incorporate music as a fundamental tool. If you know of anything, sing out. I once thought lute song might be a good vehicle, but it has to be for advanced studies, and especially for students with some experience with “early music”, Shakespeare and drama. Perhaps that would mean university age people unless I could manage to run across gifted students of high school age. I'm not going to try and sell it anymore. When I had some of these songs together long ago I applied for Young Audiences in Portland. The board who auditioned me really could not see how they might be of much use, and they didn't hire me. I certainly wouldn't try to play them for kids who aren't able to be silent, and that means most kids. I feel almost certain these sorts of songs would be wasted on most children. I’d use my ukulele with them.
The new position will be in Chon Buri City, approximately halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya in an area that is supposed to be growing fast. The school is being built now and seems more than halfway completed. The word I got is that I must report for duty there by March 18. They apparently feel the facility is complete enough. I’ve been told to prepare for chaos and confusion—the normal amount I’ve been warned to expect, but then a hefty dose on top of that because of everything being new. My plan is to use that to start slowly and build my skills as a music teacher/choir director as the student enrollment grows. I tell myself it’s impossible they would expect a fledgling music department to start off with a bang, but I expect to have to begin some sort of Christmas program quite early in order to pull it off, perhaps as early as September. I went with several administrators from this school in a school van a few weekends ago just to see the place, meet the director, and see what the city is like. I found Chon Buri City difficult to get around. There are some motorcycle taxis, but they are not common like Bangkok. I did not see a single metered taxi when I was there. Everybody seems to take the mini-songtaews or drive a scooter or car. There appears to be a shortage of housing close by the school, but I have been informed that they have purchased some “condos” very near. This will be shared housing. I can stay there if I need to, so I asked for a reservation, at least until I get my footing. I wonder what kind of roommate I’m gonna get.
I was out of a job when I got hired at this school so I asked if they would let me work temporarily at another campus until it was time to move and start at the new place. Sure enough, they needed someone at their Suksa school, but I had to do a fast move. It’s all the way across Bangkok, entirely too far away to commute from my other apartment and they required me to start immediately. I showed up for the first day at work with a suitcase, having asked the Head of Foreign Teachers (who OK’d my hire) if he liked where he lived, what the rent was, are there any vacancies. He set it up for me and I took it sight unseen. The best thing about the place is the apartments are completely new. My room had never been lived in. And they allow month-to-month rental, I can’t afford to lose anymore deposits. I lost the deposit at my last place and was fined a month’s rent because I signed a year’s lease but left without giving a month’s notice. I spent hardly a month there, but it couldn’t be helped. That’s behind me and I’m moved in now, but I was quite surprised and a little dismayed to find that my new home is situated more than 30 minutes by car from this school. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I just didn’t have time to shop for a place. The guy is letting me commute with him, which might be pleasant if he didn’t have an eight year old daughter who watches Barbie movies most mornings. Have you seen these animations by Mattel? I know them well now, we usually watch them every morning because there’s a DVD player and screen in his dashboard. If it’s not Barbie movies, it’s Elvis. He loves Elvis.
I have had sinusitis for over two weeks. It must have been developing since I had the two back-to-back colds from around Christmas. I had low level sniffles for around six weeks after that, but it eventually flared up on a Sunday and I started feeling ill. I asked around and found a clinic not far from me, so Monday night I headed that way. I caught a mini-songtaew to the crossroad north of me and tried to switch to a taxi. After only a few blocks it became clear he could speak no English, could not read the address I had written on a piece of paper, and was unable to read the Bangkok map I presented to him. My Thai is still totally inadequate. Only 2 baht had accrued on the meter in that time, so I paid him and got out. A motorcycle policeman was right there. I walked up to him and asked him where the clinic is. He offered to take me there and refused to accept money for the ride.
First order of business was to get the health documents I need for my work permit: blood test results and a physician’s certificate that I’m in good health. The Thai government requires me to have a certificate of health as well as proof that I don’t have syphilis. They wanted to give me a chest X-ray but I said no, and they didn’t have a problem with it. I am puzzled though why they require a syphilis test but not HIV. I would think HIV is a far worse problem. Only after I received those documents did I ask to see both ear/nose/throat and orthopedic specialists for my ailments. Sinus guy said I need to be on antibiotics for at least three weeks. At that time he will assess whether or not I need my sinus’ scraped. I Googled that last night and was appalled, sure hope I don’t need it. Bone guy had a look at my knee which has been hurting for some time. I submitted to X-rays for this. He said I have a common “defect” that causes problems for older people. I guess I’m wearing out, or it's arthritis. The blood test, X-rays, consultation with both orthopedic and ear/nose/throat specialists and five prescription drugs cost me about 2,000 baht. That’s probably about as much as the deductible on my insurance for just one of those services back in the states. The business was run very smoothly, and I’m satisfied with the quality of care.
I need to get a new visa before I can get a work permit. It’s called a Type B Non-Immigrant Visa, and I'm leaving in about 10 minutes to catch the bus and head to Laos. There was a lot of paperwork which was prepared by the school. I have to provide proof of my citizenship and education. A bachelors degree is required by the school to get the new visa, and it apparently must be accompanied by transcripts. I provided both my masters and bachelors degrees, but I have transcripts only for my masters. It’s the latest and greatest, why wouldn’t they want that? As it turns out they don’t care about the masters at all for this purpose, and I don't have transcripts for the bachelors. I'm hoping everything will be alright without it.
Today is Monday and it’s a holiday, Makha Bucha Day. The visa run service leaves at 7:00 PM, drives all night long and we arrive around 4:00 AM. I won’t go over it again, it’s the subject of a recent post. Wish me luck.