Anne Guilbdaud , the volunteer from French teaches at Rajapajanugroh 50 Khonkaen School from 6th November until 13th November
Songkhla for 2 months
“I stayed one week in Khon Kaen, in Rajapajanugroh 50 School. The school, only 30 minutes by car from the city center, is a self-sufficient community: there is rice and banana fields, a farm with animals (pigs, chicken, etc), solar panel, the 800 kids from primary school to high school are taking care of the place.
The school is under the Royal foundation so, as in many place in Thailand, you can see that the king and the Royal Family are everywhere. Around 30% of the children have no parents or come from poor family and very remote area. The kids from secondary to high school are sleeping in the school and some of them are going back home for the week end. The teacher are also leaving in houses in the school. So I had a bedroom in a house with two others Thai teachers. The place is in the middle of the beautiful nature so I have seen many animals like snakes, big night butterflies, big lizard, definitely a wild place for me .
When I arrived there, 3 little girls where in charge of taking care of me. Even if they were not able to speak English, they were very cute and helpful with me.
The daily life is very organized, the kids wake up around 4 a.m. from Monday to Thursday then they get ready and go to have breakfast. The kids have a different uniform every day (also Saturday and Sunday!). After breakfast, everybody have to assembly at 8 a.m. in front of one of the building and sing the national anthem in front of the portrait of the king and they raise the Thai flag. They have class from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then they can do many activities such as Issan Dance, art like music or sculpture, sport, helping in the kitchen at the canteen. I had two to three hours of teaching per day and the rest of the time I could join the activity with the kids.
What’s particularly caught my attention in that school is the fact like everybody seems very happy and the children were very well behaved, polite and I felt like most of them were blossomed.
During that week, the fact that I couldn’t speak English a lot (because I am talkative) made me think a lot about that place.
I remember that the day of the American election was also the day at that school of the election of the student representative. I try to speak with teachers and children about that American election which was a big concern but nobody seems really aware or concern about the election of Donald trump but very concerned with the election of the student representative.
So it makes me wonder, do they really need to speak English?
I think I choose my volunteer work as an English teacher because I think that speaking English is a gateway which allows you to choose your future and your job and offers you new opportunities. But in an other hand, if you’re happy in your community, do you really need to speak English ?
Also, I think the next volunteers will need a different caretaker. Honestly, I felt like she was asking me a lot to integrate, the way I had to dress, to make up, teaching me Thai language and Isaan language. I think it’s normal and I did my best to fit in but I think they also had to consider the fact that I’m coming from a very different culture.
Also, I think you should be at least with an other volunteer in that place. I had live 6 months in Bangkok before and, even if I know Bangkok is not the “real” Thailand, when I arrived in Khon Kaen I really felt that I was in the middle of nowhere.
But, even if I quit that project after only one week, I am very happy to have discovered that very special place. I think that experience was incredible and everybody was very nice very with me. I learned many things about Thai culture, and I also learned about myself.
Project in Songkhla
(from 14th of November to 15th of December)
I am back now to Songkhla since almost 3 weeks. I am very happy to leave in a Thai family with two little cute girls.
I’m working in BanBangDan School, a small primary school in Songkhla. I have around 12 hours of teaching per week with 6 different “Pratom”. As usual, I had a very warm and nice welcoming even if it’s not easy to speak English. I’m getting more and more used to my teacher job and now I know that the kids love to play little English games or to learn English songs. I didn’t know that being an English teacher was so complicated and I think it’s a very good challenge for me.
I also very enjoyed the rice planting activity. I think is very interesting to do different activities with other people.
During the weekend, I’m catching up with the others VSA volunteers because we became really good friends or with the student from Thaksin University that we met during the orientation week. Songkhla and Hatyai are so different than southern touristic place and I really like the fact that I’m discovering that part of Thailand life. I really feel that Songkhla province is still developing after South Thailand Insurgency. The everyday life is quite exciting because there is always funny misunderstanding because we don't speak the same language and there is also many unexpected places to discover like the museum in Ko Yo island, the Songhkla Zoo, the sleeping Buddha or the mermaid in Samila Beach.
To finish that story, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Tum and Ae, for helping me, listen to me each time I had a problem and giving so much time and energy to make our volunteer work a good and meaningful moment. You made that experience amazing and unforgettable”