Today marks the seventh day of our trip to Thailand and I am glad to say that all is wellJ Being my first ‘school trip’ without my parents, this is indeed a totally new experience and in these few days, I have realized how much I used to depend on my parents. Without my parents with me, there is this sense of responsibility and this knowing that no one will help me clean up my mess if anything goes wrong. Fortunately, nothing has gone horribly wrong yet but in fact, these few days have been very fulfilling and enjoyable.
We reached Chiangmai on Saturday but the actual first day of our volunteer work began on Monday as the weekend was mostly spent travelling and visiting some tourist attractions. During these two days, we did not have a tour guide to bring us around. Instead, the principal of the school which we will be volunteering at accompanied us throughout and became our ‘tour guide’. This really touched me as it showed his hospitality and how sincere he was in hosting us. He showed that actions indeed speak louder than words. Through his warmth and willingness to take care of our every need, which included buying everyone of us a phone card so that we can call home, he undeniably captured the hearts of all the teachers and students in the group.
On Sunday night, we arrived at Da Tong Secondary School, the school where we will be teaching at for 2 weeks. We received a very warm welcome from all the teachers and students who were present. They made paper garlands for everyone of us and put it around our necks as we walked past them. There was also a lion dance and other performances during dinner. Dinner was a grand affair, with more dishes that I normally see on my table during dinner time at home. For the students, this is indeed a feast as they do not usual get such a sumptuous meal. Once again, their hospitality can be felt from the way they prepared such a feast to welcome us.
Monday marked the start of our teaching in the school. In the morning, we were given time to prepare for our lessons. The teachers of the school assisted us by providing us with some of their teaching materials so that we have an idea as to how to plan for our lesson. After lunch, we were given some time to rest before we proceed to teach in the late afternoon. As all of us dispatched into the respective classrooms that we were assigned to teach, we had the same feeling of nervousness in our hearts. After 2 hours of lessons, everyone gathered together with endless things to tell each other about their class. Some would talk about how successful their lesson was, how mischievous the children were, how the children bullied them, how they were made to sing and dance, how some of them were losing their voices etc. But amidst all the ‘complains’ and stories, every one of us wore a smile on our face. Despite looking a little tired, the smile that we all had was a smile of achievement, a smile of accomplishment, a smile that signified that we have successfully taught a class for one day.
Following that was dinner, where every one gobbled up their food hungrily after using up so much energy during their lessons. There was then a short time to rest before proceeding to teach again at night. The night classes were for students who lived in the school hostel and students who were weaker in their studies. Each of us were assigned to about 2 to 3 students and we were supposed to either guide them along if they had homework or to teach and explain to them the things that they were unsure of. It was an enjoyable time as we got to know the students on a more personal level as compared to during school time where there were 2 teachers and 40 students in a class. We could thus identify their weaknesses and help them with those areas more specifically.
After the night classes, we would then proceed back to where we were staying and wash up, rest and sleep. The next day would then begin again with the same routine. Despite having the same schedule everyday, every day is a new experience, with different things encountered and different lessons learnt.