Friday, August 22, 2008

Tsunami Volunteer Center - Khao Lak, Thailand

Greetings from Khao Lak, Thailand. We began volunteering with The Tsunami Volunteer Center (TVC) on Monday. TVC was started the day after the December 26, 2004 tsunami hit. It started with rebuilding and construction but grew into a boat rebuilding project, handicraft education, and English education. They have hosted around 4,000 volunteers, many for months at a time and many for multiple return trips. One volunteer, Ken, actually came to do some construction, but after a while saw the need for English education since many of the English speakers who worked in the tourist industry had died in the storm. He has now been here for 3 years and is in the process of starting a new non-profit Volunteer Teaching in Thailand. TVC is actually closing their doors on September 4th. They have completed all of the rebuilding they can and will be able to contribute some of their resources to Volunteer Teaching in Thailand. I feel lucky that we got to be part of the second to last group to work here.

On our first day, we met a group of amazingly sweet, funny, and smart girls from Leeds University in England. They had been here for two weeks already teaching English at camps around Khao Lak. They shared their expertise and we began preparing our lessons for the next two days when we would be at Ban Thanun English Camp in Phang Nga, about an hour from Khao Lak. We taught lessons introducing words on topics like, my village, my family, foods, greetings, and directions. The kids were very polite and respectful. Most were very timid to speak English and participate in the silly games we had prepared. They are used to learning in a more copy and repeat format.

The kids were so adorable we wanted to snatch a few up and bring them home. Thai's tend to have really long names so they tell foreigners their short versions. Some translated to some English words. We had a Bus, Pond, Porn, Poo, Pup...each one cuter then the next.

The students would repeat exactly what was said to them. I was going over "places in your village" words and when I got to the last word I would naturally say, "and, police station". The kids would repeat with a smile, "and police station." It cracked me up every time. The next day my topic was "people in our family" and the kids were learning to say, "I have one brother and 2 sisters" or whatever the case may have been for them. Few of them spoke with much confidence but this one kid, in the most confident way, said, "I have one son!" My partner Laura and I couldn't help but giggle at the thought of this little boy with one son. Laura and I were both speaking English but with very different accents. We would sometimes get perplexed looks from the kids like, "um that is not what she just said."

The goodbye ceremony we recieved was full of gratitude and emotion. The kids were even asking for our autographs! Kawp Kun Ka!

I look forward to the next week and a half....


Ev said...

That's a great post, Mare! All I can think of is that M*A*S*H episode where they're trying to teach the locals (Koreans) some English. Iirc, the direct quote was "I (state your name)" and this group of Korean men all said "I...state your name..." :-) Then there's another scene where Hawkeye has taught them all to say "Frank Burns eats worms!" Ah, youth. And innocent tv programming.

mary said...

So funny. My partner and I were teaching Greetings. Dawn said, "My name is..." Then pointed at herself and said, "Dawn!" The circle of kids did the exact same thing. It killed me.

Anonymous said...

I cannot wait to see these stories recreated in person.

So incredibly proud of you, Mare.

I have gone to call you up about 70 times since you left, and then remembered, oh yeah, you're helping people on the other side of the globe. Forgot.

So I try to do something nice for strangers out of guilt, as I am not building someone a new home each week.

Love coming here and reading up on your adventures, I'm jealous in the best possible way.

You following election stuff out there? Crazy exciting times right now. Has anyone asked you about Mr. Obama?