When I first arrived in Thailand, I was nervous about the six months to come as a TEFL intern. Challenging as it was, the rewards where beyond measure. After three months, I was lucky enough to apply and be offered a placement teaching children at the Community Development Centre (CDC) in Baan Nam Khem. The CDC was established after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami to support the local Burmese community, many of whom are not recognized by the Thai government. The CDC provides schooling from Kindergarten to Grade 9, with children often traveling for an hour or more just to attend.
Words cannot express how grateful and honored I feel to have been a part of this community. The teachers and children welcomed me with open arms; the air conditioned office was just an added bonus! The children know how lucky they are to have this opportunity and are keen to make the most of it. It was amazing to see them grow and learn and to learn from them during my three month placement.
Saying goodbye was one of the hardest and proudest moments of my time in Thailand. Exams were over and it was time to get out of the classroom and have some fun!
The fun kicked off with school sports day run by all the GVI volunteers. We were all a bit worried as it had rained the whole week, but Thursday dawned clear and sunny, a little too sunny! Like all good sports days we started with a group warm up Zumba session led by the talented Grace. It was then time for the children to earn team points at the skills stations. The stations included bowling, skipping, obstacle course, penalty shootout, target practice and Gumboot toss (wellington toss for the Brits!). Fun was had by all but as the day wore on the heat and sweat multiplied. It was time for the under and over water bucket relay in an effort to cool down. It worked for about 5 minutes! After a few more relays it was discovered that two teams had tied for first and two teams for third! So it was time to pull out the big guns, Tug Of War! Joe’s blue team provide victorious.
The following day the older students had a school outing and GVI were invited along. We organized our packed picnic lunch and climbed aboard the songthaews for the two hour journey to Phang Nga Dairy Hut farm. I was lucky enough to join the children on the bus and seeing their faces as they saw the cliffs surrounding Phang Nga was magical. The children also loved exploring the farm and feeding some of the animals. We saw llamas and alpacas, wallabies, camels, sheep and goats. The children also had a pony ride, looking like true cow boys and girls in their hats. After lunch, it was time to say farewell. Jason thanked me and the volunteers for our efforts in the community. I received some beautiful gifts, including a jar of tiny origami stars but the best was the song the children sung me in English. The children also gave me some handwritten letters that seriously tore at the heart strings. It was an amazing way to end my time with the children.
Working with these children has been a life changing experiences that I hadn’t expected, I feel so honored to have been able to share their learning journey.
Jamileh Callaghan, 6 months TEFL intern.
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