It's all about the journey….
I’ve only been their teacher for one week, but I have already completely fallen in love with these girls. That’s not something I am just saying either. I can feel it in my heart. I am absolutely and whole-heartedly in love with them. No, they are not ALL great ALL of the time, but they are all incredible girls with amazing personalities who I just want to give the whole damn world to.
I have a few girls in each class who are impressively smart and do fairly well with their English. But it’s not like in the US where that smart kid might either be labeled a nerd by others, or might have an air about them where they think they’re better than everyone else. But not here. Here, they are humble and sweet. They pay attention and do their work. They ask questions and really try to understand. And they help the other girls who are struggling. But they don’t just help them by letting the other girls copy their answers. No, they actually try to explain it to them and help them understand as well. It’s really quite impressive. I have a lot of girls who don’t get it as much but they also try to listen and pay attention and ask questions. These girls are sometimes loud and are easily distracted, but when I get them on track, they do alright.
There is a girl in one of my classes who is almost as blind as a bat and wears these super thick glasses and has to sit immediately next to the board when she is copying stuff. And her face is literally maybe an inch or two away from her own paper when she is writing, so she can see it. She’s also either partially deaf or at least has a notable speech impediment. I wrongly assumed she would be one of the girls who would be more behind in class because when I had them copy down questions about themselves for homework, she was coming up to me and asking questions about it and trying to figure it out. And on the practice exam I gave today, she was also trying to ask questions (which I couldn’t answer because it was a test). But I was pleasantly surprised by her.
I was very impressed with another girl as well. She’s very tall for a Thai girl and she has longer hair than most of them and darker skin. On one of the first days I shadowed her class, she told me her Dad was German. On her writing part of the practice exam, she wrote about that. But it wasn’t the one or two words of broken English that had absolutely nothing to do with the assigned topic which is what I got from most of the girls. She actually wrote a complete story almost – using full sentences that made sense, paragraphs, and even quotations. I still can’t believe it honestly.
There’s this one little girl in one of my classes who just won’t really do much of anything. She doesn’t understand a lick of English and it makes me feel so bad because she just sits there with a clueless and sort of sad stare the entire class. For any other class and any other girl, the rest of the girls will always help out and try to sneak answers to the girl who doesn’t know it. But they don’t even help this one girl. And when I ask her to do something, the girls around her just look at me and say “Miss, she no….” and that’s it.
I was talking about it in the office today because it makes me so sad and I don’t understand why the rest of class doesn’t help her like they do with everyone else. Eric interrupted me for a minute and asked if I was talking about a girl in my P5/4 class. I said yes, and he described where she sat and what she looked like. He had covered that class a few times before I was hired and he said he remembered the girl I was talking about. He told me she was an orphan and she lives at the school. He said he would always feel bad for her too because the other girls won’t even help her. She hasn’t talked with me much yet, but I really want to help her somehow.
I don’t know how it works for the girls who live at the school, but I don’t really think they do much else outside of the school hours. I could come here and help her any time outside of school. And I wonder if Sister would let me take her out to eat or to go see a movie or something on a weekend. She’s such an adorable, innocent little girl who just doesn’t seem to have had the best of luck in life so far. I really, really, really want to help her. I try to go out of my way to encourage her in class and today she actually started copying stuff that I had written on the board, which she hasn’t in the past. So that’s good. And after school let out today I saw her in the hall and I said bye to her and used her nickname. She smiled a huge smile and waved to me. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen her smile before. I’m going to talk to Sister tomorrow to see if she would let me spend time with her outside of class.
I also have one of the cutest girls I’ve ever seen anywhere in my whole life in another class. I catch myself just staring at her a lot because she is just so damn cute! And she has the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen on a kid. For example, when she doesn’t understand or doesn’t know what you’re saying – her face is priceless and I honestly struggle to not crack up when I’m supposed to be being stern. She struggles a lot but the other girls do try to help her at least. I wonder if she stays at the school too or is another orphan.
I guess there are only a few who are actually orphans but there are a good number of girls who stay at the school. I’d really love to try to organize a club or outing every week for them. It must be awfully boring to just be at the school all the time. They don’t get internet access or anything. And I’m not sure if they do anything else. I’m going to try to ask around and find out. I am volunteering the first three days of my break in October at the English camp run by the school It sounds pretty cool actually. It’s at the beach and there’s a pool and they cook out and have a fire and everything. And it’s a camp so all we do is play games and organize activities really. It would be nice to actually be able to get to know the girls a little outside of school. It’s not ALL of the girls of course, because there are different camps that students go to over breaks. But it sounds pretty nice and I think it will be fun! 🙂
Amanda also asked me to cover a tutoring session for her next Tuesday because she is actually leaving for break early. Her and Eric both teach English an after-school program that Ian’s wife runs. And they get paid to do it once a week. It’s 750 Baht for an hour and a half which is pretty good. And honestly I would probably do it without even getting paid haha but money is always good too!!
Other than volunteering at the camp over break, I haven’t officially decided what I want to do with my two 1/2 weeks off. I’ve known I would have the time off since I started but I’ve just been so busy with learning this new gig that I haven’t really put much effort into planning anything yet and it’s quickly approaching!! I’m thinking I might do a few days in Bangkok since I haven’t explored there yet, and then head upcountry to Chiang Mai for the rest of it. It’s supposed to be beautiful up there. There are really awesome historical temples you can visit, beautiful mountains you can hike and wildlife reserves where you can see lots of cool animals. I just have to look into a hostel or hotel room and of course the train or bus up there. Amanda said she might be up in Chiang Mai over break as well so that would be cool to hang out with her up there. She has a friend from back home (in the US) who volunteers at an orphanage just outside of Chiang Mai. I wouldn’t even mind helping out there for a few days while I’m there too.
There are so many amazing people I’m meeting here who are beginning to restore my faith in humanity. Sure, a large percentage of people in the world are actually very greedy and selfish and there are many who are outright awful people… But there are also an outstanding amount of amazing, wonderful, kind, good-hearted people who truly care about others and I feel blessed to be able to have this experience.