Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Diary Of An English Teaching Volunteer: Thailand ♥

I spent 2 weeks volunteering in Chiang Rai as an English teacher, and decided to keep a diary to document my thoughts and feelings whilst there.

Day 1: Monday 16th May 2016
So I just arrived today and there were two other volunteers on my flight. They were nice girls and we got along well on the whole journey back to the volunteer house. The accommodation is more basic than I expected, there are 10 beds all squashed together in the dorm, and the toilet and shower is squashed together in one cubicle. I don't know how I feel about taking a shower centimetres from where everyone urinates. There are also tons of bugs everywhere so I don't know if I will sleep tonight. 

Day 2: Tuesday 17th May 2016
I felt a bit better this morning. There are many things that make me uncomfortable here (e.g. having the same food 3 times a day, and not having any personal space). But i'm here for 2 weeks so I need to try and deal with it. Today we had orientation which was quite nice. There were two other British guys who looked really uncomfortable so I guess they may be experiencing the same culture shock as me. Tommoro we will be leaving at 8.30 am to do our first class teaching English to monks. I'm supposed to be staying in Chiang Rai for 3 days after finishing my volunteer programme but I think that i'm gonna try and change my flights. I'll spend the last 3 days either in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Pattaya.

Day 5: Friday 20th May 2016
I spent the last couple of days on a home-stay in Chiang Rai, and it's about an hour and a half drive from the volunteer accommodation. I liked the home-stay because there was hot water, air conditioning and the place was clean. They made us teach in groups of four teachers per class. I feel like this is way too many teachers in a room, and means that not everyone gets a chance to practice their teaching. Some of the more experienced volunteers that have taught for months tended to dominate the lessons. But I still contributed to speech practice using flash cards, and making them repeat sentences and words over and over. On our last day of teaching the buddhist monks gave us a blessing in the form of a red bracelet. We were also given a certificate and had our photo taken in front of the whole school. The host of the guesthouse was lovely and took us to see a tea plantation after teaching on Thursday. Today he drove us to the golden triangle where we crossed the border into Laos. Tommoro is our working weekend so we will be staying in a hostel in the city centre for a couple of nights to explore. Oh and by the way the two other British guys dropped out and left the programme this morning. In a way I can understand why because the culture shock is big in Northern Thailand for anyone coming from the western world.

Day 10: Wednesday 25th May 2016
We had our weekend from Satarday to Monday. On Satarday the staff took us to the white temple which is the most famous attraction in Chiang Rai. We stayed two nights in a hostel and visited markets, got a thai foot massage, and visited the black house. I ended up in hospital on the weekend and was released yesterday, So i'm hoping to get back into teaching tommoro. Some of the girls taught at a hospital for sick children yesterday. They told me that it was a challenge teaching the younger children because they were more interested in playing. I have now gotten used to the wildlife in Chiang Rai and can easily flick an insect off me without screaming. I guess it is fair to say that progress has been made.

Day 11: Thursday 26th May 2016
So I went back to work today. I did a class in the morning with 6 year olds. The girls were right as many of the children did lose concentration easily. There was a little girl that kept on getting up and walking around the class. We taught them occupations and they seemed to understand it so I guess that is a positive. It is funny sometimes to walk in to a class and see the reactions of the children (many of them have never seen a black person before). Sometimes they are scared, sometimes shy, sometimes they laugh, but usually they begin to warm up to me halfway through the class.

Day 12: Friday 27th May 2016
Today was a long day, and my last full day volunteering. I got talking to a really cute little girl that was advanced at speaking English. I asked her how long she had studied English and she said 2 years. She offered me candy and I politely declined but took some photos with her after the lesson. After teaching we went into town because it was our last evening in Chiang Rai. We ate at a Korean barbecue place where they light the fire and you cook your own food at the table. After that I went to the night market with one of the other volunteers as we both wanted to stock up on our final bits of cheap shopping. I got 3 elephant pants, some handmade jewellery, and cucumber cream.

Day 13- Satarday 28th May 2016
So today was leaving day. We were given a certificate and scarf by the organisation at breakfast. Nikki made us teach a 2 hour class before we left (the cheek). This made the day very hectic because after teaching we only had an hour to complete our lesson plans, eat lunch, and pack for the airport. Oh and they made us clean the toilets 15 minutes before leaving for the airport. This sort of pissed me off because we were not given time to pack, and most of us wanted to shower before we left because of the sweaty heat. My foot has almost recovered so I should be okay for my flight on Wednesday back to London. Overall I guess that I have enjoyed the volunteer experience but I do feel that 2 weeks is not long enough to make a difference. If I volunteer again in the future then I will definitely stay for a month. 

                             llondon leopard

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