By Ray Sims – 1 week volunteer
It’s hot season in Thailand, and that means school’s nearly out for summer! This week we went into the village school, which gave us the chance to teach English, play games, and have some fun!
The P6 class graduate at the end of this week, so while some of the other volunteers got the chance to teach them, Talia, Anna and I went to help with the younger P1-2 class. Although their level of English was quite low, they were enthusiastic about the games and activities we brought with us – even if it was Anna’s penalty shoot-out game that proved to be most popular. I had a lot of fun teaching the alphabet to some of the kids, something they were struggling with.
Whilst we were teaching, I could see that the students were vibrant, chatty, and clearly trying their best to remember what we were teaching them. The school definitely needs more resources and a commitment to teaching and learning from both staff and students. KSES offers a teaching internship where experienced people can come and focus their time on helping the school, as well as an elephant research and photography internship, but right now they currently have no interns so the staff here are doing their best to help with all aspects of the project.
Spending time at the village school made me reflect on my primary school experience and the extent to which I took my early education for granted, given that I was taught a huge range of subjects and skills, from arts to sciences. I read a lot when I was younger, and enjoyed drawing and theater – I have no idea if I would’ve had these interests if I hadn’t found them through school. Then again, I am seeing education through a very different worldview, and the children in the Karen tribe have essential skills in areas I could never dream of.
An education is necessary for the future prospects of children and being a tour guide is a viable and lucrative career option for a lot of local kids, so having good English is essential in the long term. Watching the students engage in volleyball and football matches, as well as chatting to us all both in Pakinyaw and English, it was clear that they were excited by our visit.
As KSES is predominantly an elephant sanctuary, it is admirable that they devote time to assisting with the local school. With more resources and more interns or volunteers, it would be amazing to see the school improve; teaching for an afternoon was an experience that demonstrated to me the importance of genuine commitment to education and schooling. While I don’t have the skills to teach English as a foreign language just yet, I would encourage those who do to consider applying for KSES’s teaching internship to invest themselves in this village’s school, or one like it.