Coming home, far away!
T2T is like having friends and family in a foreign country and you’re going to visit them, and while you’re there you teach, get to know the people and see the country.
I wanted to travel to Thailand but I didn't want to just go and be a tourist. I wanted to do something. So I found the Travel-to-Teach web site and the program was just what I was looking for. The program fees were reasonable, and they were very flexible with start and end dates.
One of my best experiences in Thailand was when I was teaching in Sri ChiangMai, a small town on the Mekong River.
After attending an outdoor aerobics class (I know, aerobics was the last thing I thought I would be doing in Thailand), I started talking with some of the towns people. One was the headmaster at a primary school in a nearby town. He invited me to come out to his school and talk with the kids.
A few days later I headed out on my bicycle. A 25 minute ride took me to the entrance of a school, but I wasn't sure if this was the right one. The kids were at recess, and when they saw me they stopped playing to investigate. They don’t see too many farang (westerners) out there, and I was quickly surrounded by 50-60 kids.
The bigger kids acted as security guards keeping the smaller ones from mobbing me. I quickly discovered that the kids’ English wasn’t that good and since my Thai just isn’t there, I needed help. I soon found the teachers and headmaster, so I knew I had the right school. I was given a quick tour.
It was easy to see this was a public school. The classes were fairly large, the buildings rundown, and not a whole lot of teaching resources. I spent the rest of the afternoon going to each of the grades (1st through 6th).
They all knew some basic English. As with most Thai school kids, they mainly wanted to practice conversation and pronunciation. Some students needed to be coaxed into speaking in English, and some were ready to venture to practice what English they knew. While I was working with the students, one boy was being disruptive, actually mocking me, making the other kids laugh. The headmaster said that he was developmentally slow. I said I understood.
I stayed until school let out, but I didn’t want to go.
Half the fun that day was teaching, the other half was just stumbling across this experience and making it happen.
The downside of my time in Thailand was the heat, humidity, mosquitoes and ants, and my video camera being stolen (be careful on long bus rides). In spite of all that, I’m very glad I went.
T2T is a great name for this program because I did teach people English, but I also had the time and assistance to really experience the country and its people.
Pat Marlow, March 2003