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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Friday, 06 Aug 2010

Location: Wageningen, Netherlands

MapVolunteering in Thailand was an amazing experience for us. We volunteered at the Watthana Nakhon school. Itís located in the east of Thailand, near the border of Cambodia.

The school had only had one volunteer before us. So us being there was not only new to us, but also new to them. In the beginning we didnít know what to expect. Chaiyaphum was out of the way from Bangkok to Watthana Nakhon, so we didnít visit there. After we met Oh in Bangkok we went straight to Watthana Nakhon.

The school turned out to be really big, more than 2000 students and 100 teachers. The first night we were brought to the so-called Ďteacher homesí. This was very shabby and primitive. There were many bugs and there was an old traditional Thai bathroom which we were definitely not used to! We got a bit worried. After the first night the head of the English department saw that we were not bad people. She decided she could trust us and invited us in her home for the rest of our stay. We are still really grateful for that!

At school everyone was really excited to meet us, but also a bit scared. The people in Thailand are extremely kind, but also humble and shy. Some teachers would avoid us, because they were afraid to have to speak English to us. Most teachers hardly speak English and they were afraid to embarrass themselves. However, we were able to make a lot of friends, especially among the English teachers.

The level of English of the teachers was low, but the level of most students was even lower. It was really difficult to teach them. One of the teachers would help translate things whenever the students didnít understand us. I think it wouldnít have been possible to teach without their help. We played a lot of games to practice their use of English as well as their pronunciation, and also the students seemed to like that best.

In the weekends the teachers would take us to see some sights in the neighbourhood. It was great to explore Thailand in a non-tourist way. All teachers were happy to take us anywhere. We were treated like VIPís!

All in all, it was a great experience for us. I hope we were able to learn the students a bit more English. At least we taught the teachers better English and were able to encourage the students to learn and use English. If there is the possibility some day, weíll definitely go back.

Claudia Choi and Karlijn Meeks