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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Friday, 20 Jun 2008

Location: Thailand

MapEd Muhley and Charlotte Rhodes
Wangpikun Pitta Ya Kom

As the bus left Bangkok both my girlfriend and I were somewhat nervous and full of uncertainties, which only increased on the long bus journey out to our school in Wanpikun. Too much time to think and concoct unlikely situations is never a good thing! However, on spotting our waving Thai hosts with a huge grin on their faces, it quickly became evident it was completely unnecessary! Nothing can quite prepare you for the friendliness and enthusiasm with which you will be greeted at the school. You become the center of attention (nothing quite like standing in front of the whole school on your first day at the flag raising ceremony (microphone, sound system, 600 students), attempting to say your name and where you come from in Thai). Everywhere there are ‘good mornings’, and some ‘good afternoons’, occasionally we are offered ‘sweet dreams’, even though it is only lunchtime. Students pander to your every need, ask you to accompany them to the market, temple, watch them dance, help them cook, play football or badminton with them, and if it is all getting too much, you might just get a Thai massage. Oh, and occasionally you teach some English too. My first lesson was a lesson full of 16 year old boys who also happened to be in bottom set English. I was also going to teach this one (and every one thereafter) solo. Gulp. Again it quickly became evident that I need not have worried. I quickly learned that the best way to cope was to relax and give off an air of confidence. Most importantly though was the realization that a smile and a joke, even if it is at your own expense, goes a long way to gaining their trust and attention. Thai’s are full of fun and have a light hearted sense of mischief, and if your lesson plans revolve around these traits, you will soon win friends. Over-exaggerated pronunciations of English words are also funnier than you could ever imagine - trust me! So if you have any concerns, quickly try to dispel them, however real they feel. Take that sense of adventure that has made you investigate Volunthai this far, mix it with a healthy amount of humor and get involved!
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