Kindergarteners wearing heels, first graders wearing fake eyelashes, award ceremonies with legit medals, bleachers with massive banners, team chants — Sports Day in Thailand is quite the spectacle.
Once a year, each school in Thailand has a Sports Day where the students are grouped into teams that compete against each other in various sports (at my school, the big events were cheerleading and running). Now here I am, two months later, writing about my school’s Sports Day that happened on November 30th…
The students practiced for months leading up to this thing. Even in the beginning of the school year, people would talk about Sports Day and would mention what a big deal it is. Parents pitch in to make massive crafts and intricate costumes. Students are pulled out of their academic classes to practice during the few weeks leading up to the big day… Reviewing for an exam? Nope, Sports Day practice. Learning how to read? Nah, Sports Day practice.
Everyone really goes all out.
When the day finally arrived, the rumors about how crazy it was were was all true. Things were over the top! And this was only an elementary school. I heard that high schools get even crazier.
The cutest part of everything was before the events really got going, the parents were busy shepherding kids around, snapping photos and smiling like it was prom. The parents were so proud. And I mean, how could you not be? The kids worked really hard and just looked so cute. I also love seeing my students outside of class, where they don’t have to sit still or pay attention. They just get to be their little selves and I loved seeing that.
Our Sports Day was held at the 700 Year Stadium in Chiang Mai, where there’s a huge track and field and apparently enough seating to hold 4,500 people. The day began with a parade featuring the entire school, and some parents even got dressed up and joined in the walk, and then it was onto the sports competitions and award ceremonies.
After all the festivities were over, I was walking away from the stadium, hoping to catch a songthaew home, when a car pulled over and motioned to me. A woman jumped out, asked if I was a teacher, and offered to give me a ride.
Now, I normally wouldn’t accept a ride from strangers but I’ve heard it’s a common thing in Thailand and the woman was with her husband and kindergarten-aged son, who were all wearing my school’s emblem, so…I felt safe enough to accept. They ended up being so sweet and I was so glad for the ride. Everyone always says that Thailand is full of so many generous people and that it’s the “land of smiles,” but to be honest, this was the first time I had really experienced anything like that since living here. It made my Sports Day that much better.