It all started with a 6AM rise, I got out of bed, sorted myself out and headed to the office. Here awaited me a ride to the school; the first I would have ever set foot in in Thailand. Nervous was an understatement, I thought I was nervous going travelling on my own but this was something else, the plan for the day was extremely vague and I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Just over an hour later we arrived, at "Princess Chulabhorns College, Pathumthani (Regional Science School)" it looked pretty modern and I was just praying it had air conditioning, after a quick security check point at the gate we headed to the hall. The staff consisted of: three Thais, two Americans, one Tibetan, one Ugandan and and myself, British. Upon entering the school hall I was relived to see and feel 16 air conditioners blowing down from the wall; that was the first worry over. After the opening ceromony we had to introduce ourselves to nearly 200 kids (girls and boys aged between 13 and 14). I was then pretty much dropped in the deep end, I was to be in charge of 30 Thai kids for the next two days with little or no guidance, just some very basic instructions, lets just say I had to think on my feet very very quickly, initially just getting them into a cirlce was challenge enough so I really was thinking wtf am I in for here. After some rapid ideas though, I had it sorted. My next mission was to get them all to think of a team name and a chant, most of them spoke reasonable English whereas others didnt, in the end we came up with the "Komodo Dragons".
To decribe the rest of the day would be very difficult but with every hour I was becomming more at ease, the majority of the kids were very respectful and I was wai'ed to frequently. For those that dont know, in Thailand they have the "Wai" this is a traditional sign of greeting and thanks, it involves placing ones hands together and performing a bow. I havent fully mastered it, I think the higher position or status of the person the higher you hold you hands and the lower you bow. As a teacher you are (generally) granted the upmost respect, expect by the kids that see farang teachers as a joke, (kind of like I saw supply teachers when I was younger I guess) In Thailand, Thai teachers can hit the children whereas farang teachers generally cant, the kids know this so sometimes dont show as much respect but I never had any problems. I managed over the day to improve more and more and was able to get alomst all of the kids engaged, it helped a lot once they got to know me and I no longer felt any apprehension or nerves. The whole day was filled with a lot of dancing, singing and games and I worked up a serious sweat even with the air con on. One of the main games I ran involved big flash cards with letters from the alphabet. They were all spread around in the middle of the circle and I had a list of words that I would get them to spell. Instead of me teling them the word I would ask a basic riddle, for example, "I am a big animal very famous in Thailand", they then scrambled on the floor and held the cards up high spelling out "elephant" it was a great game. During the day when we had breaks the kids would bring us some snacks and drinks over. Lunch was pretty good too we headed to the cafeteria where we feasted on some delicious Thai food and had a chat to one of the teachers in the school.
The final activity of day was "baloon toss" It was throwing a normal baloon filled with water to your partner then taking a step back each time until it bursts. We obviously went outside for this but only after us teachers demonstrated it inside soaking loads of kids. It was a whole lot of fun. That then concluded the first day, I was absolutely exhausted but on a mega high. I really enjoyed it. The second day was more or less the same, we had some diffrent fun games that we ran with the kids which they all loved. For the final hour we had some drama games to keep them entertained, basically the kids all got very load and very silly which was great to see.
When the two day camp had come to an end we were inundated with requests from kids wanting our autographs, it took about half an hour before we managed to slip away. It was the perfect end to a great couple of days, it proved that these kids really enjoyed themselves and that we had made a diffrence. It was very hard work and pay was low however it has given me a lot of insight and invaluable experience working with Thai children. I shall certainly being doing a few more of these programs.
Tomorrow I'm actually working a two day camp again but at a diffrent school. This time though its for Thai adults who are teachers themselves, I will be helping them better thier English so they can pass it onto the children. Im looking forward to it.