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Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Teaching in Thailand

Ivybridge Community College Year 11 student, Tommy Chapman, has spent his summer holiday volunteering in Thailand in order to help those children who were affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004.

This piece, by Tommy, explains his reason for why he decided to volunteer in Thailand.  He writes, “After two energy-draining flights, totalling twelve and half hours in the air, we landed in the south of Thailand.  We then travelled north to the small, tsunami-scarred village of Khao Lak.  Although the town is lively and joyful, the coastline is etched with the seams of a distant disaster; most of the town is newly built and those buildings which have stood the test of time and nature are dilapidated, plant-infested, and fractured.  Most of the lakes and ponds that are littered throughout the area are new, which shocks every newcomer.  The destruction echoes further through the many trees, which line the shore and beyond.  While you drive through the vast jungles, you can tell which trees are new, as they’re in meticulous rows, as if they’re a disciplined army of nature.

After a few days we started to teach English to the local Thai children.  In Thailand, the ability to speak English is invaluable; you need it for higher education and any job in tourism, which is a massive sector over there.  I taught both primary and secondary school students, which meant the subjects varied massively from colours to past and present irregular verbs, but whatever we taught and whoever with, the same messages were clear.

Not just the children, but the whole of Thailand has a completely different way of life. They’re not the richest people, but they live with what they’ve got and love it.  All the children were cheerful, polite, and respectful.  Simple things were completely different, such as taking off your shoes in classrooms, the games they played at lunch and having what the locals call soi dogs in their equivalent of the dining hall.

We drove past the repatriation centre and vast tsunami cemetery every day on the way to the schools to teach; it was a poignant reminder of how fragile life can be. Their lives have changed so drastically over the past one and half decades and the fact is that every local knows at least someone who was affected by the Tsunami. Despite all this, the people stay hopeful of the future, smile all day and never let someone pass them without a wave or a cheerful hello.”