Teaching in Thailand – September 2007.

My husband, Joel, and I traveled to and through South East Asia for four months in 2007.  We knew we wanted to travel, but we weren’t sure where exactly we wanted to go, so while planning our trip we let our passion for community service determine where we would end up.  We found an eco-friendly volunteer based program out of Singburi, Thailand and opted to spend our first month of our trip there.  Part of our month at the eco-house in Singburi involved teaching English at a local school.  Somehow we managed to miss the meeting we needed to attend in order to be placed at a school, so the program placed us at a very impoverished school 30 minutes drive out of Singburi in a neighbouring town called Inburi.  We didn’t know this experience would change our lives for ever…

The entire school and preschool population, including teachers.
The entire school and preschool population, including teachers.

The principal of the school (kind, sweet lady) would pick us up every morning and drive us to her school in her own car.  At the end of the day she would drive us back to the eco-house where we were staying.  This woman loved her school and her students.  The school fed us an amazing lunch every single day! We could never eat all the food that was prepared especially for us, but we were okay with that because we knew whatever we did not eat would go home with the kids in the late afternoon.

One of our incredible lunches, served to us in the library.
One of our incredible lunches, served to us in the library.

There were approximately 26 students in the tiny school we worked at.  The grade 1s, 2s and 3s were in one classroom and the grade 4s, 5s and 6s were in the other classroom. Joel and I always taught together, so we would alternate classrooms every other day.

The intermediate students learning how to make snowflakes out of paper.
The intermediate students learning how to make snowflakes out of paper.
The primary students, keen as ever to learn new English vocabulary.
The primary students, keen as ever to learn new English vocabulary.

Our students knew their English ABCs and most could count to 10.  We spent most of our days playing word games and trying to teach new vocabulary to these adorable children.

Joel giving this adorable little girl a lift while she matches an English word to a picture.
Joel giving this adorable little girl a lift while she matches an English word to a picture.
The kids really enjoyed having their work "checked" by the teacher...we spent a lot of time handing out stickers and marking their work :)
The kids really enjoyed having their work “checked” by the teacher…we spent a lot of time handing out stickers and marking their work 🙂

Part way through our time at this tiny school we got the impression that these students had likely never had volunteers come work with them before.  The kids absolutely loved to play with us, so after we ate lunch we’d play soccer with them, or skip, or play with bubbles.  We brought a big duffel bag full of fun outdoor game supplies (ie. bubbles) and teaching supplies with us from home.

The older kids and the younger kids all played together at lunch time.  There was a true sense of community in this small village.
The older kids and the younger kids all played together at lunch time. There was a true sense of community in this small village.
These little ones just wanted to hold my hand for the majority of our breaks.  I was totally okay with that :)
These little ones just wanted to hold my hand for the majority of our breaks. I was totally okay with that 🙂
This is one of my favourite photos from our entire trip.  These kids just LOVED him!
This is one of my favourite photos from our entire trip. These kids just LOVED him!

All week we had practiced teaching them a new song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.  The crowning moment of our time with these students was on our last day together – the students performed their new English song for their principal (the lady who drove us to and from the school every day).  Needless to say, she was elated!  Check out the video of their short presentation!

I wonder about these kids now.  I wonder where they are, what they’re up to, what they’ve become.  I wonder if they remember us? Every few days I think of these kids and how their vivacious love for life and education, despite their circumstances, changed me.  We tried to stay in touch with the school.  We sent pictures and a letter via snail mail, but we never heard anything back.  Email isn’t an option either because they had really poor internet connection there (and only one clunky desktop computer).  Wherever these precious souls are, whatever they’re doing now, let this post be an offer of my love for them.

Karley