Goodbye-My Last Day Volunteering in Thailand

Latin Americans are known for being emotional people. Well, I even by Brazilian standards am considered “melted butter” (someone who gets emotional very, and I mean very very easily). So you can just begin to imagine how it was for me the end of the English Camp, and also my stay here at my little lovely Ban Nonpho school. I will start by telling about how the camp finished and then move to 3 episodes where I felt enormous pure joy during the camp.

This is going to be difficult to explain but I will try. In the end of them camp we all went to the big football field and made a circle. Not sure how to say that in English, in portuguese it is a “roda” ciranda. Anyway, basically everyone who was in the school joined this circle. And then the circle broke away next to me, so that this new beginning could “redo the way of the circle by greeting everyone. Which means that every single person was able to see everyone. As I was in the beginning I stood still while every single kid “way ed” me, shook my hand, and said good-bye. This was all happening while three teachers were singing a very sad tune with lyrics saying ” goodbye my friends”. I can say that I was fully present in every single hand I shoook. I looked attentively to each face. I observed the shy ones who avoided my look, the extroverted ones who shook my hand intensively, the smily ones who added kunkru Tchu after the goodbye, and I was doing quite well, for as long as no one from Ban Nonpho, my little school had arrived. But then the first one did, it was lovely Guem, and when I looked at him, with the same profound observation I had looked at the others my eyes started to overflow. I tried really hard not to cry and I was successful as the next kids were unknown to me. But then the kind teacher (who s mother had died), “Way ed” me and looked into my eyes for longer and with more kindness than I could take… and I started crying. I who had already cried in the funeral of her mother! So most of the time I was controlling my tears, trying to be present, but everytime I was fully present, and thought about the beauty of waying to everysingle kid, and especially saying goodbye to “my kids” I cried.

For lunch as usual I joined the kids. So much more fun than being with the adults. And most of Ban Nonpho students were inside of one classroom. They were playing so I joined in. And as they were turning upside down, I could not feel more at ease. I joined them in all kinds of acrobatics I knew. and they had sooooooooo much fun that the room got entirely packed from students from all of the other schoools. There were kids looking from the window outside, at the door, there was no room left whatsoever… which made it sliglhly dangerous… but well, these kids are so used to falling… and to playing and getting sometimes hurt… that it made me again think about how overly worried, and obsessive most of western countries have become… so we played…….. getting hit sometimes by falling bums and legs. They showed things they could do like putting legs behind their heads, and we tried it all. They laughed, and clapped, and fell, and giggled, and it was soooooooo much fun then when lunch was over they all came to me to say. “Kunkru Tchu thank you very much!!!.”

The day of camp itself was hilarious I had asked Non Nan to teach me a song in Thai the night before and I actually sang it to the whole school. In a microphone, while they all looked at me in total surprise ( just imagine how wrongly I probably sounded). They clapped in ecstasy! I was then made to dance with them, while the speakers played Thai pop music! we went wild!

As everything here begins with a meditation, so it ends. And to my complete surprise as all teachers know I am planning to go for vipassana, they ask ME to seat in meditation position in front of the kids. I first refused and said I would seat with them. But then as they were all so curious as to see how I was seating, i followed HOrn’s request and sat on the stage. I sat in lotus position, as I am quite used to it, and realized the kids were amazed. They copied me. And then to my complete surprise I close my eyes amidst enormous noise from teachers and kids, and suddenly the place went silent, and I felt totally in peace. When I opened my eyes much later and I saw all these little kids, 200 of them meditating, I felt so much happiness. I could not really place it. It felt totally surreal to be me a westerner meditating in front of Buddhist Thais, but there I was, and I felt so much love for these kids.

And then time to go came. And I being Brazilian went to hug everyone. Tanoy said to me ” I sad you are going” it was her way. They did not know very well the hugging thing. Ta, a little fat boy from year 4 gave me a kiss on the face. Most hugs were awkward. But they hang around and said bye many times, many, many times…. And then Tangmo who was not officially in the camp came, and she ran into me and totally hugged me. A real hug! A very strong hug… and then I being melted butter… well then I really cried….

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