And again – new experiences

In June I had the opportunity to meet other international Volunteers for the first time in Thailand. Five international Volunteers, to be exact. And somehow all five happened to be from Italy.

For two weeks I joined the upcyclingcamp on KhoYo. It was a great experience. Totally different to the teaching project I was used to. Except for our several visits to different schools.

We were all accommodated in a big room within the grounds of the big Thaksin Folklore Museum. Every morning we could see the sun rising from behind the hills of Songkhla Town. And every evening we would see it kissing the ocean on the other side.

On one of the first days we went to a mangrove forest to plant some young trees into the soft soil. It was fun trying to find a way between the already mature trees, without sinking knee-high into the mud. However, when that did happen you had to be very careful not to leave your shoe behind when freeing your leg.

On another day we met some students from Thaksin university. Together we did a short session of beach cleaning. After that teacher Nok, professor at Thaksin university, and us volunteers prepared some games and tasks for intercultural exchange.

And on several other days we went to a school to do some crafting workshop. Together with the students we created phone holders out of the pressed waste of the timber industry. We also crafted flowerpots out of old tires. Proper wastemanagement is an important issue all over the world. Every country has to contribute to improve the situation. As for Thailand the things that might be most shocking to foreigners are the huge amount of plastic products, such as bags, straws, cups and bottles, and the amount of trash to be found everywhere on the side of a road. I think within the two weeks of the camp we couldn ́t change too much on the topic of upcycling, but at least drew some students attention to the problem.

Overall, one of the things I liked most about the camp were the people. It was so nice being with my Italian “aunties” and Thai friends!

Nevertheless, when I returned back to Klonghoikhong I really enjoyed the teaching again. It is so much fun when the children are enthusiastic, curious and playful. In between classes I try to encourage them to small conversations in English. Then they would ask me to play some traditional Thai games, sing the chang song together or compete in arm wrestling.

It is interesting to have such an intensive insight into Thailands everyday school life. At first sight it might not seem too different to my primary school back home in Austria. They also have different subjects a day, each lesson is about one hour. But here in Thailand we do have the morning assembly with it ́s song to the king and revision of English vocabulary. Also the canteen and the daily chants of thankfullness to the farmers are new to me. And the daily pack of milk for each student.

If you take a closer look, the primary school in Thailand is VERY different from my primary school in Austria. One particular picture that stuck in my mind was, when one teacher on the way to the morning assembly, took of her shoe to hit on a scorpion until it was dead. Normal. Not further surprising to me either. Just very significant.

Except for the first one or two weeks I never got homesick so far. But after two and a half months of teaching in Thailand I am not sure.... might I get thaisick (the opposite of homesick; the feeling of missing Thailand too much) once I go back to Austria? And what will it be that I might miss the most?

Floria, volunteer from Audtria in ICL Songkhla project May - July 2023