Worchihan and I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Worchihan’s village. Ngahui Village is a traditional Tangkhul Naga village in the mountains about 6 hours from Imphal, the capital of India’s northeastern state of Manipur. (I’ll have to write another post about northeast India, the Nagas and Tangkhuls, but just know for right now that Worchihan is a Tangkhul Naga, Naga being the tribe and Tangkhul being the sub-tribe.) This was my third time there, so I still don’t know a whole lot about it and am still curious.
I went this time with the idea of paying attention to the everyday activities of the village, especially as they are so different from mine. The villagers chop wood, wash their clothes by hand, cook with fire, carry water and take bucket showers. They also collect vegetables from their gardens and drink tea with their friends and neighbors. It’s a difficult life, but really a wonderful life, peaceful, simple and people-oriented.
I taught at an international school when I first came to Thailand. The school used American textbooks, but the English the students learned depended on the nationality of the teacher; if the teacher was American, the students learned American English, but if the teacher was British, the students learned British English.
I realized that my 7th and 8th grade students needed to have an understanding of both, as students at international schools in Thailand often go to college (or university) in Western countries. I wanted my students to know that first of all, although these two particular versions of English are mostly similar, there are some differences that they will need to know when they want to communicate with others who speak a different form of English. I wanted them to know both versions of common words as well as the major spelling differences. I then wanted them to think about which version of English is more commonly spoken. I think studying both forms is essential when studying English.
When I was homeschooled in high school, I learned a little bit of Latin from Martha Wilson’s Latin Primer, Book 1. I love language and I loved learning Latin vocabulary as Latin is the base language for French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian.
But there’s something better than learning Latin vocabulary. Want to guess?
It’s picking out the roots so that you can use your knowledge to learn other words!
But there’s something still better…
Learning Greek roots in addition to Latin roots! Why? Because more than 60% of English words come from Latin or Greek roots.
Quite a few Thais who’ve asked me why I came to Thailand haven’t really understood my answer. They find it hard to believe that I had a good job in the US and then quit that job to come here. It’s not that I don’t like life in the US—the US is freedom, convenience, ease, variety, choice, home. I just knew that I wanted to—that I had to—go.
I’ve lived in Bangkok for six years now. I didn’t think I would be here this long—when I came, I imagined staying for three years before going somewhere else, maybe somewhere in South America. But Thailand unexpectedly got its claws into me and I find myself, now married, still here, though for how long, I’m we’re not sure.
I’ve been thinking lately about what a different life I live here than the life I lived in the US. It seems like everything is different, but is that even possible?
My mom first saw my dad – “a little skinny blonde kid with a crew cut” – in 1966 when they were both nine years old. My dad had accompanied my grandfather to the kids’ crusade he was conducting at Livingston Assembly of God, the church my mom’s family attended. My parents met three years later, when they were 12, when my mom’s family started going to Bethel Temple, the church my dad had attended since he was born.
Initially, my dad thought my mom had lots of boyfriends because quite a few boys liked her and she thought he was a snob, so while they were in the same Sunday school class and saw each other often, they didn’t have much to do with each other until a Sunday morning at church when they were 16.
Since Susan and I got married last April (2016), every morning when we leave for work, my wife hugs me and kisses me and reminds me that she loves me; she does this again when we get home. In contrast, when I was growing up, my parents would say goodbye to me by saying, “Ok, Chihan, go fast and come back soon.” I didn’t think much about this until my mom kissed me on the cheek for the first time on my wedding day in front of several hundred people.
That was the first time I remember my mom kissing me on the cheek. It was uncomfortable for both of us because it’s something we’ve never practiced in my family and in our culture. My mom must have kissed my six siblings and me thousands of times when we were babies but I don’t remember her doing this at all as we grew older. I find myself wondering why it took so long.
Psychology of Missionary Adjustment byMarge Jones with E. Grant Jones Logion Press, 1995
Why I read this: For most of my life, my dad served as a specially licensed minister and church business administrator. During the summer after my eighth grade year, when my dad was working at a large church in California, my family went to Fiji for two weeks as guests of a large church who asked that my parents—my mom is also a money management extraordinaire—put its finances in order; shortly after we returned home, my parents told my brother and me that we were going to be moving to Fiji to be missionaries. My parents had felt, months earlier, that it was time to leave Sacramento, where I grew up, but it wasn’t until our trip to Fiji that they realized where we were supposed to go. Ten months after our two-week trip, we were again on our way to Fiji, where we lived for three years.
I don’t remember reading any books to prepare for going overseas as missionaries, though I do remember reading Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home by Peter Jordan of YWAM when we returned to the US. I think my interest in books about missions comes from a desire to better understand our experiences as missionaries.
I read about the literary history assignment somewhere (Nancie Atwell, maybe, or Cris Tovani?) and assigned it to my middle school students a couple of years ago, but not before I wrote my own. I think it’s a great introductory assignment for a reading classroom.
I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my parents built up a collection of Little Golden Books and the Bernstein Bears, books they must have read over and over again to my brother and me, books that they have saved to give to our children.
When my brother and I were a bit older, my mom took us to the library every week or two, and we got to check out as many books as we were old, so when I was 8, I could check out 8 books. I remember reading Nancy Drew and The Baby-Sitters Club (I always identified with Kristy, the founder of the club, though I wished I was more like Dawn) and Sweet Valley Twins. (When the Sweet Valley Twins became Sweet Valley High, I remember feeling a great sense of sorrow.) I read every moment I could when I was a kid, including while I dried my hair in the morning before school when I was in middle school.