But how did we get there? Well that’s a long story that can most simply be explained with; opportunity (Bodhi and Lena) met us at Our Jungle House, and that opportunity happened to fill our needs (us having no plans and nothing to do from February through March). It’s that simple. We knew we wanted to have a genuine Thai experience and this opportunity seemed like the perfect match.
And so we arrived in February knowing one thing: we were going to teach English to local children, volunteering in Khao Sok. What we didn’t know is how much more we would get out of this experience. As we arrived at Wat Tam Wararam school, we could feel the excitement. We were anxious to start and the staff and students were excited, yet a little nervous, to be welcoming their first foreign volunteers.
We started by impromptu alphabet lessons by the tree. Bird! Tree! Flower! These simple vocabulary lessons proved to be enough to get the children in an excited mood, eager to learn English with their new “farang” friends. We taught all classes from the loud and hilarious grade 1 group to the shy and friendly grade 6 classes.
Evenings were spent with our wonderful host and head teacher, P’BeeBee. We slept at the school and shared dinner adventures with our new Thai friend. “Eat more rice! Makes me so happy” we’d be told every night. From spicy minced pork to mysterious jelly desserts, every time we sat down at our little table, it was a true Thai culinary adventure.
With our host and a few of her fellow teacher friends, we visited neighbours, we visited the local cave temple and even spent some time strolling around the town Buddhist festival. We may have been scheduled to teach for a few hours a day but the cultural experience went on late into the night.
On our second week, we were able to test out a pilot project to bridge the gap between farangs and local children. With the help of our friend Lena at Our Jungle House, we organized a visit of the school garden (that’s right, the school has its own garden). This was a great success! Shy students were able to mingle with guests, practicing their English. Children became more than just another snapshot on a tourist’s camera, replacing meaningless interaction with actual conversation.
We only had two weeks at this school, so we can’t kid ourselves thinking that we’d make a tremendous difference in these children’s English ability. We simply want to lay the groundwork for some authentic interaction between foreigners and the Thai children of Khao Sok, so hopefully we’ll be the first of many to come talk, laugh and learn.