The last week was busy, trying to get every detail finished before the kids arrive Monday morning. It did not help that there's no deadline for parents to enroll children. Three kids signed up for first grade yesterday. One mother, the day before, spent an hour in the office arguing that her daughter had to be in my class. I had her last year and all her friends will be in my class this summer. But, I had more kids than the other teacher so Admin was reluctant. They sent me an email and of course I agreed to take her.
In addition to getting the classroom and lesson plans ready, there was some socializing. I wore the traditional longyis the last two days. They were gifts from the cleaning ladies who attended my ESL class this summer. The ladies were very happy that I wore them and I got many compliments from local staff. Longyi skirts are exactly the same as the puletasi wrap-around, floor length skirts that I wore in Samoa. Much cooler than slacks.
One of the cleaning ladies brought her small photo album to show me. A few photos of her family and several pictures of her wedding and a few photos of her and me. I was touched that she wanted to share and added me to her album.
Later in the day one of the local staff gave me an impromptu hug and said "I love you!". The feeling is mutual. These people work so hard, in very difficult conditions. They live with fewer creature comforts than I had in Samoa. Yet they display genuine smiles and laughter all day. I may have written about the day a couple of weeks ago when I had a bad day at school. No big deal, just a frustrating day. As I was whining to myself, leaving my air-conditioned classroom to walk 2 minutes to my air conditioned apartment, I glanced over at the women carrying bricks on their heads at our construction site. They'd been doing that steadily for eight hours, in the sun and 100+ degree temps. I have nothing to complain about.
I'm off now for a day of shopping and luxury. We'll start with breakfast at the tea shop. Then shopping. I sold my two wonderful chairs to another teacher. I'm going to replace them with one just like them plus one that is similar but a rocker. I also need to buy a sheet to make a "reading fort" in the classroom. Then, my Saturday favorite time - a couple of hours at the salon getting a massage, shampoo and blow dry. $6.50 of luxury.
Life is good in Mandalay.