As an English teacher in a Thai school, I had the unique opportunity to witness many cultural celebrations, including Thai Cultural Day. This collection of images is particularly meaningful to me because it challenged my comfort level as I witnessed and captured emotions I had not seen my students express in a classroom.
Many of the students were very excited, but despite their young age, pressure from parents to smile and do well prompted nerves. The costumes were ornate and beautiful and the students with the best costumes were admired and applauded. The students with average costumes sat aside and chatted with their friends. The make-up made the six year olds look sixteen and while they looked adorable, it also felt a bit ridiculous. The pressure put on these students to perform (here and in the classroom) at such a young age was overwhelming. I felt honored to witness this tradition, but was equally conflicted by the range of emotions I saw from these children.