September 17, 2015

Wai Khru (Teacher Appreciation Ceremony)

One of the best parts of my *lifestyle* (an English teacher who lives abroad) is that I get to see so many different viewpoints. Seeing traditional ceremonies often offers insight on the culture and its values.

Today our university celebrated Wai Khru, which translates to Teacher Appreciation Day. In fact the day is about forming the teacher-student relationship between faculty and freshman (called "freshers" here as a non-gendered term). I observed the ceremony briefly, as my teaching schedule didn't line up for me to participate fully. In the auditorium, faculty members decked out in red and black robes sat in chairs near the stage. Students formed a lined in front of the faculty, kneeled and received a blessing from the faculty member. Three dots of white powder were given on each students' forehead, symbolizing ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. I'm having trouble finding exactly what the dots mean, my best guess is: morality, concentration, and wisdom. These are considered pillars of Buddhism.

There are many aspects of the ceremony that I didn't see. For instance, student representatives offer symbolic foods and plants to their teachers as signs of perseverance, intelligence, discipline and humility. In some ceremonies, there are traditional music and dance performances.

While I still only know a little about the ceremony, it makes me happy that students and teachers honor each other in this way. I enjoy working in universities because they are centers of knowledge, as well as places of personal and societal development.