… Good Morning! I am… I’m fine, thank you and you?... I… I’m fine thank you…….. You need to tell them to sit down… Oh…?! Ok. Sit down please.
This second month began with this little scene. I am no longer Maïlys, I am teacher Mali! People I admire so much as they are doing the great job of teaching which is, in my opinion, one of the most important job in the world. And this is a role I never thought I would have… Funny how life makes its own way!
Memories of childhood, when you never thought that your teacher would see you play with your pens, or hear you speak with your friends, or not see the shy ones and the troublemakers… Oh, we couldn’t be more wrong! When you are in the front, you see it all. You see it when the kids get tired, you see their interest renew by the banana song, you see the ones having trouble with the clock, and the ones getting it immediately. It is not teacher superpower, it is just a “Oh gosh, how can I explain that?” or “I don’t want to make them repeat the numbers, it’s boring, let’s find a game…”.
Yes, teaching is amazing, but can also bring lots of questions… Luckily, for this great adventure, we are two. The best teammate ever, I present you… Teacher Arisa! – Previously known as Enrica, one of the Italian volunteers on the Happy Project –.
Together, we are Castor and Pollux, Laurel and Hardy, Black Widow and Hawkeye. We are completing each other greatly, if one of us decide to improvise a song because the kindergartens get restless, the other catch it on immediately, if one is teaching, the other encourage the kids to repeat… Then, when the present teacher do not speak English, we improvise mimes acts duet to explain the exercises or the games; and, finally, when class is over, the work is not done, as we continue to work together on creating materials to teach English…
But let’s focus a bit on our audience... Aged from three to twelve years old, all of them wear the fabulous Thai smile, they are curious, eager to learn English and teach us Thai in return, which causes lots of laughs! We share games and invent new ones; some are shy, some ask lots of attention; there are those running in your arms when they see you, and those, silent, observing you with attentive eyes wondering what you will invent next. There are those coming in the break room watching you creating the next educational material and those stealing your phone to take hundreds of pictures, there are those sitting in front of you, those who grab your hands when you do a circle and then those directly sitting on your knees… And always, everywhere in the schools, you know that you will soon hear “teeeeaaaacheeeer!”. Yes, they are simply amazing. And they never get tired.
Outside of the volunteer work, there is still the beautiful Thailand, and this month, the Loy Krathong festival and the Lanna Festival (also known as Yi Peng – held in the North of Thailand), but for most of us known as the Lanterns Festival. It is said that the origin comes from an old ritual, paying respect to the water spirits. This is a beautiful festival, the moon is full, lanterns go high in the sky while little “boats” – made of banana leaves and decorated with flowers and a candlelight in the middle – are released on the river, temples are decorated, candles light up the streets and people are full of glee…
With two other volunteers (Justine and Esra), we went to Chiang Mai in order to enjoy both festivals. Our first reaction was not amazement but shock! Hundreds of tourists all over the city. Wherever we were going we heard English, French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish… speaking. After one month and a half without seeing other occidental people (outside of the volunteers) we could not believe our eyes…
But the adaptation was fast, after all, it is always a pleasure to meet new people!
During our stay in Chiang Mai, we visited some amazing places, so if you come around, here is the must see/do:
The grand canyon of Pai (of course much less big than the Grand Canyon of Arizona),
Any waterfalls on your way,
The city of Pai (rasta people places and quiet time),
The old city of Chiang Mai
The beautiful temple of Wat Doi Suthep
And others temple in and around Chiang Mai,
Do a massage at the Prison Product Shop & Massages (Rathwithee Rd); it is a place that rehabilitates women from the prison. You will do a good action and these ladies are amazing!
And if like me, one of your little girl or boy’s dreams was to meet and hug elephants, go visit an elephant sanctuary, where elephants are respected and protected. You will get to know, feed and wash them and you won’t ride them but walk alongside. This is an amazingly beautiful experience.
Oh! And don’t forget to rent a scooter to visit around!
As October, November went pretty fast, due to new discoveries about Thailand and volunteering but also about me and my abilities. Volunteering is truly an amazing experience!