In my educational experience, I have had some interesting times. Besides learning about all sorts of interesting things from the American Revolution to the allegorical imagery of Shelley’s Ozymandius to the equations of falling objects to how to make pinch pots, my school days have been full of other learning experiences.
I have been on a field trip to Washington, D.C. I have played soccer. I have been the P.A. announcer for our high school basketball and baseball games. I have been to Proms and Homecomings. I have participated in scholastic quiz shows on local access cable television. I have seen my teachers go on strike. I have seen teachers wrestle students in the classroom.
However, for all of these experiences and more that I can fill this post with, I will never have the educational experiences my children have had.
Courtesy of the time our family has spent abroad, these are some the unique moments my children have had in schools overseas.
These are their stories.
CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF LEAD
In the fall of his junior year at high school in Thailand, my oldest son attended a school dance that was being held in a fancy tourist hotel in downtown Bangkok. He had gone with a bunch of friends and I was the designated parent to pick them up once the event was over and take them all home.
Since traffic in Thailand’s capital is always bad, I left our home far earlier than necessary knowing that the gridlock would make me arrive on time. For whatever reason, traffic was non-existent and I made it to hotel hilariously early.
I didn’t text my son to let him know I was there as I wanted him to keep enjoying himself. So, I waited in the lobby.
About thirty minutes before the event, my son called and asked if I could come early and pick him and his friends up. Turns out, the school officials present were ending the event prematurely for safety reasons.
It was during this time in Thailand’s history that there were street protests taking place around the city. Normally, these protests are not violent, but tonight was different.
One side of the political conflict had staged a rally in the football stadium downtown to show their support. The other side in this struggle decided to show their own support and staged a counter-demonstration. Things escalated until there was shooting.
As the stadium was blocks from the hotel where the dance was, the school administrators decided it would be most prudent if the students all departed.
I have never had a dance cut short on account of a shooting, but my oldest son can now say that.
While in Peru, my middle child (or my youngest son…you decide) was scheduled to go on a field trip to the outskirts of Lima. I can’t remember what it is that his elementary school was going to go see and it does not matter because he never made it.
The trip itself was cancelled because the day before the transportation workers of the city announced that they would be going on strike the next day to protest low wages and working conditions.
Fearful of the gridlock and confusion on the streets that a civil action by the taxi and truck drivers could cause, my son’s school administrators wisely decided to keep the students at school.
I never had a field trip cancelled on account of a civil action, but my youngest son can now say that.
BOTH HAVE FOUR LETTERS
Here in northern Virginia, our kids can occasionally miss school due to inclement weather. Most commonly known as “snow days”, our local school will close for the day when the snow is too high or the ice is too slippery.
In Thailand, where the temperature never dipped below fifty degrees, “snow days” were a foreign concept for the school my daughter attended.
However, in May of 2014, the international school that my daughter (and my sons) attended did close for a number of days after the Thai military first declared martial law and then overthrew the civilian government.
One of the first official announcements of the new rulers (other than “Hi, we’re the new rulers!”) was to close all the schools for a few days until things were sorted out.
I have never missed school because of a “coup day”, but my daughter can now say that.
Those are their stories.
P.S. If you would like to hear my most embarrassing answer while on one of those scholastic quiz shows…well, that’s a tale for another day.