Wai Khru Day

20 Jan

Last week RIS celebrated Wai Khru Day, which is essentially the Thai version of Teacher Appreciation Day. Khru means ‘teacher’ in Thai, and the wai is the bow Thais do in formal situations to show respect. There are three levels of wai; the highest is reserved for images of Buddha, and sometimes involves genuflecting. The royal family gets the second level of wai, and people who are older than yourself, or people who have a higher position than you (doctors, teachers, etc.) get the third level of wai. The person in the lower position, in this case the student, always initiates the wai, and it’s considered bad luck if the person in the higher position initiates it. For example if the teacher initiated the wai, it’s believed the student being wai-ed will have a shorter life.

Anyway, RIS celebrated Wai Khru Day and each class held a little ceremony for their teacher. My teaching assistant, Ms.Tane, and I sat in chairs at the front of the room, and the students sat in a circle around us. One at a time, they came forward, wai-ed us, and gave us leis made of jasmine flowers. They were also supposed to say thoughtful words to show respect, to show gratitude, or to reaffirm their status as students; “Happy Teacher’s Day!” “I try to be a good student.” etc. Of course, being four-year-olds, some of my students just giggled and handed us the leis awkwardly, but some took it quite seriously and were very formal about the whole affair. After all the students finished, Ms.Tane and I each said some nice words about how much we like being their teachers, how nicely they behaved, and such things.

Overall, I was just really impressed by the whole ceremony. It took less than 15 minutes, but it genuinely made me feel.. well, warm and fuzzy. It felt like what I was doing as a teacher was being appreciated. RIS made sure to stagger the ceremonies so that the official school photographer could come to each and every one, preschool thru 12th grade, and document the students doing their wais, which to me showed how seriously they took the ceremony. Although I have received gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week in the US from the more considerate, thoughtful parents (and they were of course very much appreciated), none of that ever had the feeling Wai Khru Day did. The ceremony took place in the morning, and the jasmine flowers smelled simply amazing. For the rest of the day, whenever I entered my classroom, I was hit by a wave of fabulous floral scent, and felt pleased all over again.

Here are the jasmine leis and leaves folded into lotus blossoms that my students gave me. I strung all the leis together and hung them on my teacher board to dry!

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2013-01-21 07.08.42

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3 Responses to “Wai Khru Day”

  1. Tiffany January 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Very sweet and slightly emotional!

  2. Corky January 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Hi Darcy, your mom and are are looking at your blog today. What a nice ceremony it looks to be. I have also enjoyed your other blogs immensely!! We are having brunch here at our house and having fun reading your “stuff”. Weather wise, sure do wish we could be there. Have fun and say hello to Orestes.

  3. Elaine McCormick March 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    This blog is one of the best; tugged at my heart and also dropped a tear! Very special.

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