Volunteering in Thailand

The sun was stronger than ever this morning. I usually am very careful when taking my showers. As I have told before, I hate cold water! To my surprise however, I am not only totally getting used to the bucket bathing, but i am actually enjoying it a lot. There is something else quite strange about this place. It is like suddenly little things become quite delightful. I, for instance, love eating outside on a little wooden stool and washing my clothes by hand. Not many, just a couple inside of a bucket, lots of foam, the birds singing, the cool water, and my total inability to do it well. It is absolutely therapeutic. And it is not that i really need to, there is a very old and quite simple washing machine. But i just like to start my day having a bucket shower and then listening to the splashing of the water while i wash the few items i have worn the day before.

And then there is breakfast. Mind you, all of this before 7 am. Nothing hurried, nothing unpleasant. Almost a ritualistic morning routine. For breakfast i have the fruits of the garden and the region, which i will not even attempt to write the names, as many of them i have never seen before. And then we ride the scooter for 4 km into the little village until we reach the school.
Today it was once again PE day. Have i already explained about the colours of the clothes? On Monday they dress in blue and white, and the teachers in brown for the government, on Tuesday in pink for the king, on Wednesday they dress as scout boys and girls, on Thursday in black pants and red shirts for PE day, and on Friday in yellow for the Kon Khaen province. I guess it is a way to insure that kids change clothes every day. Thai people are very clean and usually shower twice a day. I really don’t see how to do otherwise in this heat, but then again in some other places people do.
Today, as we arrived in school, Horm told me ‘i am going to Chum Pae (a bigger village around here), wanna join me?’. Even though i have been here for a while it still surprises me how teachers can suddenly just leave the school and the students unattended. So, i said i would stay, and i was left taking care of year 3 and 4 on my own.

Picture this, i do not speak Thai and they do not speak English. In fact, nobody speaks English around here. I had absolutely no idea what to do, and luckily for me they were more than willing to help me by teaching me games we could play together. Everything here involves a lot of noise. So the games consisted in the kids either singing very loudly, or i had to write numbers on the board, divide the class in 2 groups and call the numbers out (a bit like bingo) while one person from each group raced towards the board to circle the correct number. I also made up a drawing game and they really enjoyed that.

As i teach them words in English they tell them to me in Thai. I cannot explain to you the laughter that is generated by my poor attempts in speaking Thai. In fact, I even suck in knowing their names. And when i ask them they give me nicknames, and then their names, and then something else, or just repeat what i am saying, or just say yes to whatever i said, which makes it impossible for me to know. When they say something to me in Thai which i don’t understand they think that by repeating it very slowly i might. If that doesn’t seem to work they try very loud. Then i go for help to year 5 and 6 to get Non Nan or Tangnoi. They come smiling and are very very helpful and always sort it out. Then i had to move to year 5 and 6, which were also left alone in school this morning, and they were also willing to teach me new games.

Lunchtime is also much better lately. Apart from the first day there was never again any hitting of the kids, and as i bring my own vegetarian food it is all fine. I never stay and eat with the teachers, i always go and play with the kids. So lunchtime is basically spent inside the classroom, where there is a fan, playing board games, singing games, clapping games, or just simply laying on the floor. Oh, i am also taking lots of pictures, and they love posing for them. In fact, so far, lunchtime and school time don’t seem to differ all that much. During the whole day in school there are kids who are not from our school, but always pop up to visit. ANd adults seem to come from everywhere, and teachers seem to disappear all the time. As you can see it is not at all what you might think of an Asian style school. The whole day there is lots and lots of laughter.

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