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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 30 Aug 2009

Location: Nongnakam, Thailand

MapMy sister and I recently returned from teaching for 2 weeks at Nongnakamwitayakom in Northeastern Thailand and it was a truly fabulous experience! We stayed with a wonderful teacher, Suwatt, and were warmly embraced by all the teachers at our school.
Suwatt and his family live close to the school. They were wonderful hosts. Suwatt's wife, who we called "Mom", was the cook for the school and made the most delicious breakfasts and dinners for us. They also arranged for us to go on bike rides, play soccer with other teachers and students, play basketball with the kids, go visit silk and cotton fabrication in town, and took us on fun adventures during our weekend with them. Over the next weekend we went to an English Camp with other volunteers, which was fun, and during the down time Suwatt took us to Buddhist temples where we were able to talk to the Buddhist monks. Then we went to a market and Non Muang, an archaelogical dig site of an ancient village where they had recently discovered new bones. On Sunday we participated in a farewell ceremony and then set off for more adventures. We went to a gorgeous natural fountain where we had a picnic by the water, eating gai yan (roasted chicken), blaa (fish), som tom (papaya salad with baby shrimp, truly yum!), and delicious Thai desserts. After lunch, we went to a temple in a mountain and learned about Buddhist prayer, and then we went to the bat caves where we lounged around until dusk when millions of bats left the cave in spiralling lines, it was breathtaking.
We loved teaching English at Nongnakamwitayakom. The students were very respectful, always wai-ing and saying swatdikah when we approached. They greeted us eagerly when we came into class and were always attentive and participated in the activities. We started off reviewing body parts by singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, quizzing them on spelling, and playing games. They really enjoyed when we didvided the class into teams and had them come up one at a time to write a body part on the whiteboard. The team with the most correctly labeled body parts won. Simon Says was another big hit. We enjoyed teaching together and taught around 4 classes during the day and everyday we taught Matayom 1/1 (the youngest kids in the school)afterschool for an hour. 1/1 was so smart and energetic, they caught on quickly to all the games and activities and we enjoyed getting to see them regularly. We also had fun doing Mad Libs as a class, playing games with questions, and singing songs. At the end of our two weeks we both wished we were able to stay longer with the kids.