So I have fallen in love. Her name is Meaw, she’s 3 years old, and she’s awesome.
This week, Emma, Kara, Meena and I were the only volunteers in town and we worked at a new school down by the Chiang Mai airport. We had kids ages 3-13, with all different levels of English. We worked from 9:00-2:30 Monday to Wednesday, giving us lots of time with the kids. It was nice to spend a full day with them; we were able to really get to know their personalities and, I think, teach them a good amount of English.
There were the older girls, Fai, May, Ning, and Pawn, who were a bit like the Mean Girl characters, sticking together, stealing toys from the little boys and hiding them, making faces, etc. Fai wants to be Miss Thailand and is always practicing her Miss Thailand wave. “Don’t move the elbow,” she told me, “just the hand. Back and forth. Smile.” The kids have been working with another Travel to Teach volunteer, Oscar, who has been there for about 9 months, and their improvements in English are noticeable. It was nice to be with kids who we could have conversation with, even if it was basic.
Even the younger kids were pretty far along in their English. They knew numbers, letters, colors, the basics.
This week I was really able to observe the differences in basic social behaviors in schools, the US versus Thailand. Here, I continued to be pleasantly surprised by how helpful and encouraging the kids are to one another. The edge of competitiveness found in most schools in the US is absent here. Kids who understand the lesson help those who don’t. Even during games, boys will let girls tag them if they’ve been running too long. I can’t think of an 8 year old American boy who would let himself be beat by a girl, especially in front of all his schoolmates.
The interaction between siblings is also great to see. We had two twin girls, completely inseparable and then we had Mong, 13, and Meaw, 3. Mong, who I would expect to be irritated by his younger sister, was completely attentive and loving towards her. Even the kids who are not related are affectionate towards one another. It was really interesting to observe.
This week we taught them the usual lessons: time, weather, clothing, etc. We also taught them the Cotton Eyed Joe dance (hysterical) and All You Need Is Love. The kids thanked us after saying that the only English songs they usually learn are basic nursery tunes. It was fun to sing and dance with them.
In other news, today we have two new roommates arriving, Gen from Australia and Kristine from Germany. Gen has arrived and she is lovely. Kristine will be moving into my room, which will make it slightly cramped, but oh well. Only two weeks left here. It’s gone by so fast! I’m not sure I’ll be ready to leave…