Monday, October 26, 2009

Thailand - Summer 2005

Last summer I wanted to travel round Thailand and decided to do some voluntary work with Concordia. I didn’t want a run of the mill beach holiday, I wanted to see Thailand properly if that’s possible in a couple of months. To be honest the idea of teaching didn’t appeal to me particularly, I’ve not spent anytime with children since I was one myself. However after the initial shock of ‘oh my god there’s forty 14 year olds waiting for me to entertain them!’ I found myself having the most fantastic time. I guess teaching brought out the secret performer in me, it was quite a buzz, thinking on your feet and thinking of ways to make mere words come alive to a child.

The town of my first camp with very very rural, the nearest internet café was two hours away, no-one spoke English, I felt like a visitor from Mars, we were stared at so much! I stayed with a family with two other volunteers and they treated us like royalty. In fact the whole town did, I’ve never felt so welcome in a place in my life. Staying in this town, in the heat and the smiles and the wonderful food made me fall in love with Thailand. It has the most appealing culture and assigning myself to a ‘work’ camp meant this culture was all the more vividly available to me. I don’t think I ever would have come home but unfortunately I had a worried mother and a degree waiting for me in England.

As soon as my finals were over I booked myself onto a English Language Teaching course. A month (of horribly hard work) later I was the proud owner of a TESOL certificate, certifying me to teach anywhere in the entire world! Anywhere! I poured over the map like a kid in a candy shop who only has 20p, where to go? It was definitely going to be somewhere outside of Europe, there was no question about that. I tried to take the sensible route and go somewhere that spoke a widely used language to improve my job prospects when I finally returned to England. However I’m not very good at being sensible and soon I found myself applying for jobs in Thailand.

I’ve been living and working here for two months now and it’s still a dream come true. Obviously I don’t walk around with an insane grin on my face all the time, some times I have a bad day at work, miss my Mum and want to cry! But I’ve never been so satisfied or had such a general sense of wellbeing as I have here. I work in the kindergarten of a huge 4000 pupil school. At first I was treated like a novelty but I’m pleased to say they’ve now got used to the funny white girl who falls asleep every lunch time (a bit too much partying goes on in the evenings here!). I’m slowly learning the language, which is surprisingly enjoyable, far more fun than the dreaded French class at school. People are always astonished to hear a felang (white foreigner) speaking Thai. I regularly come up with ridiculous translations, I’ve told my friend I wanted to sleep with her and told a pet shop owner that I wanted to eat cats. Luckily everyone here is pretty patient!

I share a hour with another English teacher, and each time I shoo the chickens out the way so I can park my motorbike I get a little smilt on my face. I would recommend volunteering to anyone who wants a holiday of a lifetime. It certainly changed my life.

Addrienne Munday

Click here for pictures of projects in Thailand

Click here for a country profile of Thailand

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