This past week my school participated in Sports Day, a two-day event organized by our school to encourage athletics and allow the students a couple days of fun. Typically, Sports Day is held earlier in the semester. The event was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we were finally able to enjoy it this week. Due to the delay, the temperature was hotter than normal, sweat-dripping sweltering, but the ice cream and periodic breaks in our air-conditioned office made it bearable. As we are nearing the end of a semester filled with challenges and uncertainty as we navigate the effects of the pandemic, Sports Day was a welcome respite. These two days were endless fun for both the students and teachers.
Parade: The opening event for Sports Day was a parade featuring various cultural costumes. Students wore traditional Thai and Chinese dress. There was a group of boys wearing little suits to represent Western culture. Girls wore extravagant dresses in pink, blue, and green, the colors representing the three competing teams. We all paraded to the city center and back. My job was to help corral the kindergarteners and safely guide them through the street. This turned out to be a difficult task, as the little ones kept wandering out of line. By the end, I was carrying various hairpieces and earrings that had fallen off during the trek.
Dances: Students have been rehearsing dances for weeks. Several select groups performed at the opening ceremony. There were cultural dances and a cheerleader routine.
Student Competitions: Throughout the first day, students of each grade level competed in both individual and team athletic events. Every member of the school was assigned to one of the three teams. Staff, students, and teachers cheered for their color as participants ran in relay races and sprinting competitions. After each grade had a chance to compete, the crowd swarmed around the pool to watch the swimming competitions. The youngest grades paddled with floaties and the older students swam with an impressive freestyle technique.
Soccer: Soccer, or rather, football as it is called here, is a favorite pastime. Students are always playing during lunch and before and after school. Most of the morning was filled with matches, and the crowd loved it.
Chair Ball: Despite the fact that most of the foreign teachers had never played, or even heard of, chair ball we were expected to compete against the Thai teachers in this sport. We lost 7-5 but all discovered that we love the game. In this game, one person stands on a chair with a basket. The rest of the team throws the ball to each other and tries to make a basket. It is pretty similar to basketball, but you cannot dribble and cannot move from your spot when you have the ball. The person on the chair can move the basket to catch the ball as long as they do not step off of the chair.
Obstacle Course/Eating Competition: I was one of two teachers to represent the English Department in this event. Together, we had to complete a series of challenges while racing against the Thai and Chinese teachers. The challenges are as follows:
1. Pour a bottle of water on your face and find a coin in a pile of flour by blowing it. Hands must be behind your back.
2. Consume a tray of food and drinks: a coca cola, a banana, a slice of watermelon, a square of cake, and a box of milk.
3. Thread a needle.
4. Blow up a balloon until it pops.
Tug of War: Teachers and students competed in this event separately. We quickly figured out that we had more traction with our bare feet and ditched our shoes.
Water Balloon Races: Students competed in a relay race while carrying full-sized water balloons. Most carried them using their shirts as a sling. Many balloons were lost to the concrete.
Sports Day ended with ice cream and an early release. We went home sun-drained and happy.