Sarah Lucien, France
My friend and I were volunteers in Mahachanachai Vittayakhom school from June to August as part of our French university program. During these months I was an English teacher for different classes and different levels of students. When we arrived, the teachers and students were very nice to us and we had a very warm welcome. We prepared lessons about us and about France and we asked them to present about themselves to learn something about them. At the beginning it was difficult to communicate with them because they didn't understand our English and we didn't speak Thai. Fortunately, we and the students were very motivated to communicate and we adapted our lessons with role-playing games such as how to get directions, how to order in a restaurant, and how to make a telephone appointment. The students did the dialogue with us and after that presented in pairs in front of the class. We also made games for the younger students to learn animals, foods, introductions, etc. We also taught some French games because they were very curious about that. Therefore we created a real relationship with each class.
I think the biggest challenge is that it was difficult to communicate with them at the beginning because lots of them were very shy and didn't have confidence by themselves. Thai students are very attentive and eager to learn but they dared not to talk with us. Therefore, we decided to propose playful lessons instead of boring lessons. Thanks to this, the students felt more relaxed and they understood that the main aim was to speak even if their English is not perfect. It was a very beautiful reward when they started talking more and more.
I learned lots of things about Thailand, in particular about the Buddhist religion, and about the importance of the king. I discovered lots of traditions about the monarchy through their celebrations. Thai people are very attached to their traditions. I can see that with the many celebrations at school when the students dress up to pay respect to teachers, the king, and the monks. I also saw that Thai people are very open minded, straightforward, and generous. The students and teachers insisted on eating with us and sharing their food (sharing is very important in Thailand).
Our last day was very difficult for everybody to say goodbye, but I hope to stay in touch with lots of my new Thai friends!