Thursday, August 2, 2012

Barbara: An Intern's Teaching Experience

GVI has 2 project hubs in Thailand.  Our Huay Pakoot base in the north focuses on elephant conservation and community development.  Our southern projects, running for 5 years now, have been based around education and training, specifically TEFL teaching and training.  6 month TEFL interns spend 12 weeks gaining a 100 hour TEFL certificate and valuable teaching experience before moving on to a 12 week teaching placement.  Most placements are based in the south of Thailand but we sometimes place interns to assist with our northern teaching projects as well.  Barbara, a 6 month TEFL intern, has recently completed her project after spending her placement period in Huay Pakoot teaching English to students and to the local community.

Here's some photos and thoughts from Barbara:

Barbara Teaching at Huay Pakoot Primary School

I started my 6 month-volunteer journey last January within the GVI teaching programme in Ao Luk, in the south of Thailand.  Having now returned home, I cannot think of a better place than Thailand to have had my very first teaching experience.

I enjoyed each step of the GVI project. I first spent a few months in Ao Luk, where I took part in an efficient EFL training programme, stepped for the first time in front of my very own class and went on to teach at the local non-formal education centre. After 4 months, I was offered an amazing opportunity to join the GVI adventurers caring for the elephants in Huay Pakoot, a village in the clouds of Northern Thailand, where I would teach at the local primary school. That was a challenge I could not turn down or I would call myself a chicken for the rest of my life.
Barbara's Class at Huay Pakoot Primary School

In Huay Pakoot I spent my days lesson planning, reading (9 books in 6 weeks) and walking up and down the muddy village hills. At the school, I was teaching 40 students between 8-12 years old, 4 days a week and, at the nursery, kids as young as 5. After school, twice a week, the kids would go home, drop their bags, grab a notebook and a pencil and run down the hill towards the nursery. They would have a lot to talk about – in pakinyow, the local language – and the only thing I would be able to grasp from those lively conversations would be my name.  Sometimes, these are the little things that make living worthwhile. Well, my “little thing” which made me terribly - but secretly - proud was that exhilarating feeling I had when I was called “teacher” by my dedicated and benevolent students.
Playing a game in class
At weekends, after dark, I would also teach a few adults at the village chief’s house. As with the kids, the kindness of my students was heartening. One of them, Aree, was also my homestay landlady who made me feel like a queen at her home. She always showed careful attention to my well-being. To give a few examples, she spoilt me with a proper table-turned desk to work on so I didn’t have to do all lesson planning on the floor, and she also fed me as if I was in urgent need of weight-gain. Another of my evening students and shopkeeper, Nai, would offer me food and coffee almost everytime she spotted me after my class at school.

How can I ever forget the kindness of all these amazing people – students - kids and adults, volunteers and GVI staff members – who have made my journey worthwhile? I won’t.
Class at the Village Nursery

Thank you Barbara for your contribution to the GVI projects and the local communities of Ao Luk and Huay Pakoot!