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Wai Khru Day 2017

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“Wai Khru” has an ancient history that in postmodern (individual focus) times has come to mean Teachers’ day in Thailand. What is it really about? It is about expressing gratitude and respect.

In some instances, children do bow and kneel. The “Wai” is bringing the palms together as if praying. “Khru” means teacher or instructor. Hence, students approach their teacher, reverently, in an effort to express gratitude and formalize student-teacher relationship.  

For many, while this ritual convenes at the start of the school year, it can be just about any other time or month. The all-important fact is it must be on a Thursday. This day is deemed a special day of goodwill, success and wisdom. 

So, the assemblage were encouraged and waited in silence until the surprise visit and arrival of a team of five representatives from the Ministry of Education, Saraburi. Upon arrival, Dr. Libato dutifully offered prayer; acknowledging and giving thanks to God, the Most Powerful Spirit, through whom he sought blessings on the day’s proceedings.  

Dr. Phakdee performed the official ceremony of Inception. Through his demonstration, he explained the origin, meaning and acknowledgement of teachers as upheld by the late King. Teachers are seen as the guides who light the torch, lead the way and anoint students on the path to learning. As a gesture of acceptance, thankful recognition and approval from the King, the King’s Anthem was sung.

Kay, a final year student representative, lovingly serenaded the teachers with a song. The lyrics of which highlighted the value of teachers’ contribution in the life of children. After all, the teacher is the third most important person and guide in a child’s development, after mother and father (parents).

Shortly afterwards, an inspiring video of a teacher’s love and care for her student was presented. This was moving to the core. In sum, a truly dedicated and devoted teacher spends countless hours, beyond the call of duty, to educate himself/herself; researching ways and finding means as to how he/she can correct abnormalities or in order to solve the problems of a suffering student.

A presentation ceremony, of honor and flowers, was offered as homage to the special guests and the leadership authorities of the CPIS School. This was cordially received and appreciation reciprocated.

Following this, in groups of eight at a time, teachers were seated on the platform and students, from elementary to high school, joyfully paraded homage to them. It was good to note how that this act was carried out with such warmth, charm and grace, both from teachers and students. Any such feelings of arrogance and or disdain was noticeably absent. Genuine love and stirring friendliness filled the air. 

An award ceremony for the best student decorum and achievements in Thai Culture proceeded.  These students from elementary to high school were presented with a certificate and a gift package. At the end of this presentation Dr. Phakdee, offered some appropriate closing remarks and well wishes for the students in their studies.

“Wai-Khru” Day, September 14, 2017, at the CPIS was a profoundly emotional and thought provoking experience. So much was packed in the short space of one hour fifteen minutes, it felt like the passing of a lifetime. Surely, one could not help but reflect on all the teaching occasions and the many pupils and students with whom one has had to do. What a marvelous opportunity for teachers, parents and students together to reflect on who they are, the role each is called to play and surely, to what end.

This is indigenous Thai culture. It demonstrates respect, regard and recognition of the value placed on teachers. Some teachers do find this kind of emotional surplus a bit too much to take. Separate and apart from being in Thailand, and largely because of religious roots, the very thought of one’s fellowman (small or great), bowing down to one does not bode well with one. In one’s mind, such veneration represents ascription only to God: hence, it is not mimicked or practiced among mere men. A simple, humble acknowledgement of respect that each person deserves is quite in order. “Wai Khru”, indeed, was an awesome learning and eye-opening experience especially for newcomers.

Goodness and blessings to students, small and great alike, who unpretentiously, out of the deepest recesses of their being offered homage to teachers for the sometimes unthankful service provided. And, in echoing the sentiments expressed by Dr. Phakdee in his closing remarks, one is convinced, deeply convinced that if students “remain in this mode and perform the vows so audibly recited,” then this school, indeed, CPIS will be a bright beacon to all the other schools within its precincts and beyond.