A Teacher's Welcome

Everyday at school across Thailand teachers meet and greet students as they arrival and are then on duty to happily farewell them as they leave at the end of the day. Peng (my stepdaughter) is rostered onto this job on Fridays, so was at her school early today.


I'd be happy to meet my teacher with a smile like that.

This was the main educational photo I wanted to share. It is a great example of the levels of wai, the polite and respectful placement of hands in front of the face at a level dependent on the status person you are meeting.

There are three different levels of wai. The lowest, given to those of a lower social status than you and to children, is the one Peng is making here. Hands at chest level. The kids are giving Peng the next level of wai respect, hands at chin level with fingers at nose. The third level is usually reserved for your boss, or monks and is thumbs at nose level or above.

Don't get carried away with wais in Thailand. In non-formal situations they may not be used at all. Thais will generally forgive you any misplaced level of wai, but if in doubt go for the one the kids are doing here, rather than a lower one.

Please don't go around giving a wai to everyone you meet. It's the same as wanting to shake hands politician style in western countries and is totally unnecessary.

Peng has a number of disabled children in her classes, and one of the mums came up to Peng to specifically thank her for encouraging her son to suddenly become enthusiastic about reading, something he hasn't wanted to do until Peng came along. A motivated teacher has the power to change the world for her students.


Thanks for reading.


Tony

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