How a Game of Ping Pong Recharged Me

It was a Friday. I had 5 more weeks of teaching and I was so over it. I was feeling ready to go home. Energy down, lazy, and unmotivated to create lesson plans. I just finished all my Friday classes: boring, unengaged, and just lazy classes. My Fridays are the days I look forward to every single week. Monday? Only 4 more days til Friday. Tuesday? Only 3 more days…

I was walking back to my home when I ran into my student from last term, Nathan. He’s one of my favorite students (yeah, I have favorites. Get over it) He was with the rest of his friends and invited me to play ping-pong.

I said, “sure why not.”

I had no plans anyways. So, in my long, ankle length Lanna skirt, I started to play next to the gym with Nathan as my teammate. We played doubles and I was a little rusty at first. I don’t ever play ping-pong. I thought it was boring and nerdy.

10 minutes later, I’m sweating like no other, lunging across the table to reach the ping-pong as it flew across the middle net, and screaming out of excitement. Nathan and I are trying to beat Pao and Jay, who are the most skilled at Ping Pong out of the bunch who were playing. Nathan and I would work as a team taking turns hitting the ping-pong against our opponents. Nathan’s quick, high velocity hits racked us some points. 4–4, and it was first to 5. I did a small bump to make a short pass to the opponent. They hit it back, and then Nathan with the kill, making it 5–4. We won, and I had just played ping-pong for the first time with my 17-year old students.

I walked home with a smile on my face.

I’m going to miss my students,” I thought to myself.

Yeah, I really am. These kids are what make it all worth it. Why I love Mae Rim so much, why I love teaching, why I’m here. I’m here to just be present. Teach them occasional English. Speak with them. Help them practice English. Smile at every student as they walk by. Laugh over our Instagrams. Share some stories. Play ping-pong with them.

I’m grateful for that moment with my students on Friday. I’m so grateful that I ran into them, and grateful that they shook me out of the rut that I was in. I was just cruising by, but I was failing to be present. I only have so many moments left in Thailand and on this Earth. Make them count.

I realize, right now, after rewatching Shonda Rhimes TED Talk on her year of Yes, that saying “Yes” to everything can help you feel that “hum” that Rhimes refers to or that energy recharge I desperately needed at this point of the year. Say yes to ping-pong with my students. Say yes to a dinner invite with a teacher. Say yes to English camps. Say yes to going on an hour-long walk listening to Chance the Rapper’s whole album. Say yes to getting dinner with a student. Because before you know it, you’ll be back in the US wondering how this year flew by. You’ll keep answering the question to, “How was Thailand?!”

Well, to be honest, it was all YES.

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