Teaching in Sing Buri has been a completely different experience this week as well. I began teaching at Wattoei School, helping as an English teacher. Because the kids are at the end of the term, they weren’t terribly serious about their lessons, but we still had a good bit of fun with language practice. Next week, I begin teaching at Wattoei’s English Camp over their break. Because of Buddhist holidays two days a week, I will only teach 3 days a week. The other two days I will spend working at an orphanage/boarding school doing construction and renovations.
At Wattoei School, the teachers are very curious about my story. I shared pictures of family and friends with them at lunch trying to build friendships. Toe-Wee-Cho is the main teacher helping to guide me in the classes. The students are much older. Generally, I teach students between the ages of 11-14. Their English is better than the younger children that I taught in Koh Tao, and generally, we can play more games and do creative projects because they’re more eager to listen. Even with their longer attention span, there’s no way that they can sit down for the whole 2 1/2 hours that one class has with me in the afternoon. After about 2 hours of language practice, I go out with the kids to the playground for hopscotch, a game of duck, duck, goose, or jump rope.
Wattoei had a going away party for one of their teachers on Tuesday as well. The students were moved to tears while bringing cards, bowing to her, and giving her hugs at a school-wide party. The sense of respect in Thailand is far more visible than I’ve ever seen it portrayed in the States.
The students saying goodbye to their teacher...
At the party, the school provided karaoke, sang by the teachers of course. They asked me to sing with them; which I hesitantly obliged the request. They brought up “Hotel California” and in front of all the kids, I attempted the Eagles cover. I think after that they started seeing me as more than just another volunteer, but rather someone who could have fun with them too.
Another one of the teacher singing a traditional Thai song for the kids...
The food for the farewell party was amazing. There was Thai-fried chicken, som tam (papaya salad), laab kai (boiled ground pork with spices. All so incredibly tasty and made lovingly, batch-by-batch in a mortar and pestle made from wood.
This is one of the teachers making som tam:1- grinding garlic, chili, lime juice, fish sauce, 2- folding in fresh green beans, and 3- finally folding in massive amounts of shredded papaya and carrots. I think I’ll be dreaming of this stuff when I get home.
The orphanage construction work is completely different from teaching. I spend most of the day working with other volunteers to paint, lay bricks for a fence around the school, or do general cleaning around the building. From time to time, the kids come up to us while we are working, so we’ll play with them for a bit. It’s nice to have such varied work all week- from alone to group work and mental labor to physical labor. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from our orphanage work this week, but I will continue with that this upcoming week.
When I left Koh Tao, many people told me that heading north was going to be starkly different and would be more “real” Thailand. There are many shared points and different points between the south and the north, but I am glad that I get to help and experience both as if I were a local. I miss my friends from Koh Tao quite a bit. There I spent much more time with Thai people, but now, I spend more time with the other volunteers at the center. All forms of kindness that I am lucky to have in my life. One of the coordinators at the center loves to repeat a local Thai phrase when describing all things: “Same, Same, but Different.” I find more daily that this joking statement is actually a disguised truth.