Once our course ended we took a few days off to go to Pai (more to come). When we returned to Chiang Mai we spent just one day visiting schools in person handing in application after application all over the city, not speaking to anyone directly; and one day applying online before we got impatient and went to Ying.
Ying is the manager of EFL, the English language arm of SEE TEFL where we took our TEFL course (more on our TEFL course experience here and here). Ying told us during the course that she is an excellent matchmaker–for teacher jobs, and only for teacher jobs. Ying gets to know the teachers who graduate out of SEE and has connections to many schools in and around Chiang Mai. She then matches up the graduates with a job opening that she thinks would be the best fit for both the teacher and the school.
Ying was set on finding us jobs together. She said there was a great school about 30 minutes south of the city that had 2 openings and she would make a phone call to see if we could go visit, and maybe do a demo lesson tomorrow. So we give Ying all of our paperwork (CVs and copies of our passport, transcripts, and TEFL certificate) and leave to go get a quick coffee.
When we come back, Ying runs outside and tells us the jobs she mentioned have already been filled but there is another school that has 2 openings, a better, nicer school, a little closer to the city, and we could go there at 2:00. Today. It is a little after noon now, so we quickly go home, shower, change into interview clothes, grab lunch, and come right back.
Back at SEE, we meet up with Por, one the Thai staff who would drive us 20 minutes to the school. The school is very small, and absolutely beautiful. Everything is traditional Lanna style and the school is built on a farm with big fields on either side complete with buffalo, cows, horses, and beautiful greenery. As we pull up to the main building we see an organic garden, a small playground, and lots of beautiful teak wood. Por walks us through the courtyard and says we can go meet the Director.
We meet the school Director, and the four of us sit down with me, Jake, and Por on a small couch; and the school Director across from us in an armchair. Por and the Director immediately begin speaking in Thai to one another while Jake and I sit and smile. After a while Por turns to us and asks if we could start on October 19th. We answer, “Yes, of course” and continue sitting and smiling.
The two Thai woman continue speaking in Thai to one another until Por asks if we could start a week earlier to lesson plan and prepare. Again, we say “yes, of course”. Por and the Director continue speaking in Thai while Jake and I continue sitting in silence, smiling.
The school Director asks us this time if we could also teach science or math. I answer again with “yes, of course” and that my degree is “like science” and Jake’s is “like math” (my graded language explanation for a degree in human physiology and economics respectively). The Director is very pleased to hear this.
Por and the Director continue speaking in Thai to one another, this time for quite a long stretch of time. Jake and I continue sitting, smiling, and having no idea what is going on. Por realizes at some point that she is no longer translating so she turns to us and explains that they are discussing where we could live. We smile and nod and realize that this interview, that we didn’t even know was an interview until it had already started, was apparently going really well.
After a few more moments of Thai, Por turns to us and says, “Congratulations, you got the job! Can we take a photo for Ying?”. We thank the school Director (and Por for doing all of the hard work!), take a photo, and try to steal glances at each other to indicate what we are both thinking—I don’t know what just happened, but I’m excited.
From there, we say goodbye and go see the rest of the school before driving back to SEE.
When we walk in the front door at SEE TEFL all of the Thai staff at the front desk had clearly already heard the good news, and they all start applauding and cheering. I told Jake as we were walking in that I couldn’t stop smiling, but this sealed the deal. Thailand is awesome. We went from hearing from Ying that there might be a job opening at about noon, to us both being fully employed about 3 and a half hours later. The Thai way (or just knowing Ying) definitely wins.