Despite a lot of stressing over the first lessons and much sweating in my hot classroom, I can officially say that I am a teacher. My first week is over and done with, and it feels great. The faculty, students, and even the lizards welcomed me with open arms. In Thailand, students grade levels are different than in the United States. Rather than being broken up into grades K-12, secondary students are in Mathayom 1-6 so grade 7 is Mathayom 1, grade 8 is Mathayom 2, etc. This semester, I have been given the responsibility of teaching General English focusing on listening and speaking for Mathayom 3 and 5 (9th and 11th grade) and Public Speaking for Mathayom 5 (11th grade). For all of my classes, I was given very few resources for my classes, so almost everything that happens in my classes is up to me. I am able to choose what I teach and how I teach it as long as I am helping my students improve their ability to speak English.
I never could have imagined how much I would love being a part of the Princess Chulabhorn College community. The students are so respectful and greet me every class by standing and saying in unison “Good morning teeaacha! How are youuu todaay?” I am blessed to be able to call this place my home for the next 5 months (or maybe more). Even though we are still referred to as Farang (foreigner) by every local Thai, I feel as if we are slowly becoming known as well respected teachers in the community.
Life is simple here in Chiang Rai, but I could not ask for more. I live in a home with no kitchen, sleep on a bed made for a small child, and my roommates are tiny creatures, but I am grateful for the simplicity and the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture. Even though I am here to teach English to my students, I feel as if I am learning more and more about myself and others every day.