Julia is the Middle volunteer on InternCutural and Language (ICL) in Ratchaprachanukrok 50 school Khomkan. She worked for 4 months from June - September 2015at the school and made her great effort for students, teachers and community. After came back her Country (France) for 3 months VSA received her story with amaze that we did not expect.
About the School
The school receives about 800 pupils and is a boarding school. A significant number of pupils stay at school all week and even during the weekend.
The pupils are between 7 and 18 years old and some of them are orphans. The mother, father or both died or they have never seen them. They all come from Isaan (North East of Thailand) province.
The school is really big, some Thai teachers have their own accomodation, administration building, school buildings, meeting hall, canteen, banana fields.
Generally Thai people are not confident with their English, even the teachers. In this school there are teachers who can speak English and are very involved in their job. I have been learning many languages and I know the frustration of being unable to communicate in a foreign language. This helps me to remind me not to mock the pupils and adults while speaking English!
The importance of participating in the orientation week
VSA is used to receiving volunteers from all over the world. All volunteers are very welcomed and prepared for their voluntary work. I have the opportunity to meet other volunteers who were teaching in class and see them in class. I got some tips, song. I met also other wonderful new volunteers like me from Japan, Hong Kong, France, Italy and Thailand. We cooked pasta, crêpes. went to see the sunset at the lake.
VSA team explains how to dress when you are a teacher, the Thai greetings, some basic vocabulary. Thai people are sensitive about people who show respect for their cultural codes. The first impression is often the most important. So I bought 2 black skirts, 2 white tops for teaching!
I kept a warm memory of this week.
In Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen is an important city in the Issan Region and has a university, a department store including a cinema and various restaurants and café. The School is located about 20 km from the city center and is reachable by taxi or public bus.
Other volunteers at school ?
I met Noémie, another VSA volunteer who arrived one week before my arrival in Khon Kaen. Another volunteer from China who teaches Chinese was already working for the school since 1 year. She was in Thailand in the framework of the cooperation between China and Thailand. This cooperation aims at encouraging to learn Chinese as a second language.
The school director welcomed me to her school. I had my own house at the beginning then I changed to move out with the Chinese Teacher.
Remarkable memories :
I met a green snake in my first house!! I was not prepared to see one in the house! Fortunately, I had a mosquitos net on my bed. So I could close myself at night! The same week, I had other visitors…Because of the lights the ants few inside the house…Now I am laughing out of these adventures!
I met Mu again a Thai girl who was with me at the orientation week in Songkhla. She lives one hour from Khon Kaen. We visited with his brother the pagoda of Khon Kaen and her city. In September she went to Japan for a voluntary work. I was very happy she contacted me in Khon Kaen!
Every morning I went to attend the raising of the flag with the national anthems with the pupils. I had around 12 hours of teaching every week and every 2 weeks there is an event at school in which everyone has to participate. I had breakfast, lunch and dinner at school. I discovered the daily life in a Thai school. I spent also time in the evening with the pupils : they taught how to dance Issan dance, some Thai or Issan words, we had small talk in English. Some evening I cooked crêpes with a small group of pupils or read stories in the evening or at lunchtime. After a while pupils got used to me and came to me to read them stories in English, just asking questions about myself or even some of them asked me to teach them French after class! One weekend a friend of mine from France was in Khon Kaen and we paid a travel agency to visit the weavers of the region and the farm where silkworms are produced.
I recommend this volunteer work in Khon Kaen for people who can do things on your own. Don’t expect to go out every night, meet a lot of other volunteers.
I spend a great time in this school. Nevertheless, there is a lot of free time and you can feel alone because few people can speak English.
Special thanks to VSA team and SVI for making this experience happen!