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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Friday, 21 Aug 2009

Location: Ireland

MapThe school I was teaching in was 2 hours from Khon Kaen city, and was big...1800 students. Typically I taught around 20 hours per week and the students ranged in age between 12 and 18. It must have been quite difficult for them to get used to listening to an Irish girl who talks at 100kph - but eventually I learned how to poo cha cha (speak slower). I stayed with one of the teaching staff, Suwatt and his family, just a kilometre from the school. They provided me with a bike so I could cycle if I wished - which I did - every day, much to the amusement of the students who would fly past me in the morning on their scooters!
The students were quite shy at first, but once they got to see me make a fool I myself (which I did often) they became more confident. The staff were amazing, friendly and really treated my like royalty. I was never short of someone to go to lunch with and every weekend Waen (another English teacher in the school) would take me away to meet her extended family...in fact you could say I became part of her family. Living and volunteering in rural Thailand means you get to see the country as it really is. The people are warm and welcoming, their interest in you is sincere, the experiences are unforgettable, and you're not just another farang (foreigner).
I was able to experience some wonderful once-in-a-lifetime moments...I don't know any other farangs who have been invited to a Buddhist funeral or to sing karaoke at 11am on a Sunday morning after breakfast, or got to dress up as a Thai princess to be part of the parade for the Ceremony of Lights (see pic). I also had dinner with some of my student's families and was taken out to a rice farm to get a closer look at the paddy fields. I even tried my hand at picking some rice myself - but I think they'd agree I should stick to my day job!
I can't deny it was tough at times, like sometimes when I couldn't get a point across and the students stared at me blankly, but then there were the times when we played charades or hangman, or I tried to sing or dance and we'd all have a good laugh. Great memories indeed!