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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Jun 2008

Location: Thailand

MapDawn Eriksen, Jiangtong School
[note: the next blog entry from teacher Ning goes with this one]

Every day here in Phakdeechumpon is an adventure that is always accompanied by a smile. My third week teaching in Thailand and I could not ask for anything more. My morning starts with a shower (throwing buckets of cold water over my body), eating breakfast on the wooden bench my host family uses as both a table and a sofa (breakfast is usually pineapple which was grown down the street!), a ride on a crowded bus (a converted pickup truck with seats in the bed, the boys ride on the roof) with other students to the school, then a flurry of 'wais' and "Good mornings!" from the students who are excited to use the morning greeting. In the teacher's office all the teachers walk in enthusiastically to shout at me from across the room: "Hey! What's up!", because they are excited to use the English greeting I taught them which is used only between friends (not only are they excited to speak English with me, but they are excited to be my friend!). When I ask them, "What's up?" if they can't remember the reply "Not much!" another Thai teacher who does remember pipes in! As I walk to the classroom, the students all stop what they are doing to 'wai' to me and they shout "Hello!" from across the courtyard. The boys are so excited to show me that they know English, they shout: "Teacher I love you!"
In class, I found I was most effective being used as a tool by the English teachers. They perform their usual cirriculum, but use me to either teach the students correct pronounciation or for a conversation. The conversation phrases are predetermined, because the student's English is so basic: "What are your hobbies?" "What is your surname?" "What is your phone number?" and without fail I will usually be found going: "RRRRRRRRRRR!" Or "Thhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" to emphasize the correct pronounciation! In my freetime, when I am not teaching, I sit outside in the courtyard with the students, where we do anything from looking at my pictures, playing with my iPod (which always leads to them wanting me to sing Linkin Park), playing the game Hangman, them bringing lizards over to show me, and of course taking pictures! I have to admit, since I am the first foreigner they have spoken with, it is difficult to talk with them because their English is so bad. But it is a TON of fun to try to explain what I am trying to communicate! When it is time for lunch, I cannot even count how many times people ask me: "arroy-mai?" is it delicious? Afterschool, I hang out with the teachers at the school or help them with their English homework (those getting a M.A. in English) or we go to their house located behind the school and eat.
This has been such an amazing experience for me! Everyone is so nice and they all do whatever they can to help me! The students are adorable and are so excited to learn. I will be so sad to leave!
I know I was scared before I left to volunteer, so if anyone has any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact me: dawneriksen@gmail.com