Back from Thailand- Germaine Tan

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

 

Back from Thailand. It was an awesome 18 days. Especially the days in the school cuz the students were just so sweet and nice. I think I should really do some like official reflections before I forget my feelings and whatever little reflections I have all go away. Then this trip would have been wasted.

Before going there, I never really knew what I was going there for. I knew that we were going there to teach in the school and do CIP, whatever do CIP referred to. It was only at the last day of our teaching when we were supposed to do reflections that I actually thought of it. What were we there for? I guess the official answer will be to teach and to experience. Ok, so to teach. I'm certain that their teachers can teach as well, or else how else will they survive for the rest of the 355 days that we're not there. To experience would be to benefit us more than them. Being unable to come up with an answer, I decided to flip the handbook given by the school. It said that we were there to encourage the students and sort of 'brighten up' their lives by having us to teach instead of just having their usual lessons. At that time, I was really doubtful as to how much we can actually encourage them and brighten up their lives and I was already a little upset to finally realise at the last day that we may not have done much to help them but instead probably gave them more trouble cuz they had to host us.

However, on the last day in the school, when I read what my students wrote for me, I realised the importance of us simply being there. It wasn't what we taught that mattered. We could have spent the lesson playing games for all they care. It was the fact that we were there, the fact that we cared, the fact that we gave up 18 days of our time to be there with them and to spend time with them that mattered. Indeed, we go there to experience a different life from what we normally do and that is important cuz we learn to treasure what we have. But I never taught of it as during the 18 days that we're there, they experience a different life too. They get to interact with people who come from places where they have never been. They get to know about what is outside their world, about a different life that people in some other place live. Through all these, we give them a goal, something to look forward to. Living in their small village, if they know nothing abt the outside world, they would probably expect their lives to be very normal, which may be to study till sec 3 then go to an even smaller village school to teach. But after we tell them about our lives, about how I'm going to university soon, about how Singapore is, they have goals. They too want to go to university, they want to experience a different country for themselves and it is these goals that will encourage them to work hard, to study harder.

In the 18 days spent there, I spend more time talking to them than actually teaching them. Despite having a little regret that I didn't teach them enough, I don't really wish that I spent less time talking to them. Because a few years down the road, they will not remember a teacher who taught them english for a few days. But rather, they will remember a teacher who spent time talking to them, listening to them, caring for them, becoming their friend, a teacher who gave them a goal to work towards. And I sincerely believe that all of them have great potential, that if they had our environment to grow up in, they may probably be better than us. But I believe that it is because they grew up in that environment that they are so sweet and awesome.

These 18 days have been really unforgetable. Spending every night talking to them, seeing them trying their best to learn whatever we're trying to teach them, meeting them in school and hearing their cheerful 'lao shi hao!', waving to them from the first floor when they all line up in a row outside their classroom on the second floor just to wave to us, talking to them during breaks cuz they rather spend their break talking to us than going to buy food. The last night was specially memorable. Aside from them, everyone else seemed to become invisible. From the stage, I could only see them giving us all their attention to watch our performance and their widest smiles when our eyes met. They were the reason I was up there, smiling back at them.

I know that they have made an impact in my life, and similarly, I have made an impact in their lives.

 

trumpets forever - 11:32 PM :)

 

 

In Singapore.

There is so much to say, I don't know where to start. I've written official reflections for heart-wrenching scenes so I won't repeat. Everything though, is really just so indescribable.

I miss all of them so much ): I miss their warm smiles and hearty waves whenever we see them. I miss the little nods and simple words said to us as we pass on the road. And I can just feel it: that they really miss us too. I listen to the songs they once sang to us, after practising for hours on end, and there is so much nostalgia.

I miss the last night. The waving of hands up in the air, holding hands, the bright smiles from below the stage that gave us so much strength, the songs they sang from the bottom of their hearts, the hugs that brief as they were, still gave me so much.

I haven't missed someone so badly for a few years now.

Joyan Tan

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