This is Where I Work

This is Where I Work

I knew Panyaden School was outside Chiang Mai, but I wasn’t sure how far. My friend Yaya had heard of the school, and was interested in seeing it after seeing pictures.  I could literally feel my blood pressure rise looking at the traffic on the way there and decided right then that there was no way that I would drive a motorbike. Yaya was driving her car. I knew that even though the steering wheel and the driving are on the other side, that I’d feel much safer with driving a car. Then I started to relax a bit…until I found out how expensive used cars are here.

When we got to Panyaden, it was still the October break, so no one was there but the security guards. They let us look at a few buildings, but no tour of the school. When I got out of the car, even though I’d seen pictures and videos, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the school was. There was also a serene energy there. I honestly got tears in my eyes thinking that I would be lucky enough to work at this amazing place.

Panyaden School

Parent Sala

Yaya in the Parent Sala

The Buddha



That night, Yaya and her friends, my friend Matthew and I met up and went out to Thai karaoke. Matthew was a great sport and sang before me. He and I both feel like we might have been Thai in a past life. He is also American, and he loves it here like I do. Certain outdated English language songs are very popular in the Thai karaoke circuit: ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’, and ‘Country Roads’ top the chart. Eventually, I trilled out “On Top of the World” by The Carpenters, which is a song that always reminds me of being on the swing with my sister Dory when we were children. We would swing so high we felt we were on top of the world, so we’d sing that song.

The next day I went to look at houses with a cute lady named Jim. I hope I end up renting a house she shows me, because she is so nice. I spent the majority of that weekend looking for places to live more permanently. One of the last places I saw was a cute place called Grace Boutique Guesthouse, right in the center of the old city, with a swimming pool for 300 baht (less than $9) a night. Sold…at least temporarily.

Jim, my Thai realtor

I had a hilarious, and lengthy tuk tuk ride on my first day to school. It should take about 1/2 hour, but it took an hour and 40 minutes.  I was incredibly embarrassed to be an hour late on my first day at school, but people get that it’s Thailand and sometimes things are hard to find.

I have worked at many schools and been to an infinite number of staff meetings. I have never worked at a school with a Buddhist approach, but I think I’ll be glad I do.

Here are the Panyaden principles that we talked about on day one will continue to discuss throughout the year:

I. Buddhist Apporach

II.Green School – environmentally mindful

III. Academically Competitive – Bilingual School and International Primary Curriculum

Buddhist Approach:

5 Silas (moral thing to do – practical)

  1. I will not kill or cause harm
  2. I will not take what is not mine to take
  3. I will be responsible and loving in my relationships
  4. I will speak truthfully and avoid and hurtful speech
  5. I will only consume items that bring peace and good health to my body and mind

Panyaden 12 Wise Habits
1. Using the senses wisely (Indriyasamvara) การสำรวมระวังอินทรีย์ (อินทรีย์สังวร ระวังรักษา ตา หู จมูล ลิ้น กาย ใจ)

2. Knowing the right amount (“Mattannuta”) การเป็นผู้รู้จักประมาณ (มัตตัญญุตา)

3.Not  harming ( Avihimsa)
การไม่เบียดเบียน (อวิหิงสา)

4.Being patient and tolerant (“Khanti”)
ความยินดีในกิจที่ทำ (ฉันทะ)

5. Desiring truth, knowledge and goodness (“Chanda”) ความยินดีในกิจที่ทำ (ฉันทะ)

6.Being truthful (“Sacca” )
ความซื่อสัตย์ (สัจจะ)

7. Persevering (“Viriya Chakriyanuyok”)
ความเพียร (วิริยะ)

8.Being generous (Caga) การเสียสละ (จาคะ)

9.Being kind and compassionate (“Brahmavihara”)
ความเมตตากรุณา (พรหมวิหาร)

10.Being mindful and alert (“Sati”) การมีสติ

11. Being calm and focused (“Samadhi”)
การมีจิตแน่วแน่ (สมาธิ)

12. Applying the mind skilfully (“Yonisomanasikara”) การคิดเป็น (โยนิโสมนสิการ)

I can’t think of better things to teach kids.

Here’s the school website:


The Canteen

We are given free breakfast and lunch everyday, and if it’s anything like the delicious food we had today, I’ll be thrilled. Good manners, health, and nutrition, no shoes in the buildings, all very logical.

Based on what the school values, and the staff members, I think it’s safe to say that I know I will love it here. And this is even before I’ve met my students. By the way, as of now should have 4 students. Yes, 4.


10 thoughts on “This is Where I Work

  1. I’m so happy for you Elizabeth. This sounds like a truly wonderful place to work and live. I can read the peace and happiness in your words…

  2. Wow, what an *amazing* school! I checked out their website and am in love with them. The architecture is stunning. And the approach to education, so beautiful. Reading this brought back fond memories of when I taught kids in the Dominican Republic. Although I wouldn’t exactly call that school serene ;). Thank you for sharing this!

    • Thanks for commenting Simone. I have to say sometimes websites give an artificial sense of what a place is like, but in the case of Panyaden, it’s actually prettier in person and we really do follow a Buddhist approach with an integrated curriculum. It actually is wonderful to work there. Wow, the Dominican Republic? I bet that was challenging, yet rewarding.

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