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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thai Tales

When I was in Thailand I taught older kids between the ages of 11-15. If I'd had a choice I would've worked with younger kids but any experience is a good experience and because the older kids sometimes (I stress sometimes) had quite good English and you could teach them more. But when the shit hit the fan with the Secondary school I had a chance to teach at a Primary school, covering for someone for 2 weeks. The other night I found this in a notebook. I'd always meant to post it but when I came back it was a bit too difficult writing about Thailand. It's almost a year since I've been back now and it's about time I got round to sharing it:

I did my last day of teaching today. Obviously I'm happy because it was a chore getting up in the mornings but I also feel sad that it's all over.

I'm glad I had the chance to teach the younger children. It was a totally different experience from teaching high school kids. For one, they're much better behaved. They are more respectful and sweet and they are more easily pleased.

It was like a breath of fresh air having an assistnat to help me
(I was lucky if the Thai teachers at the high school sat in on my lessons, let alone assisted me). Koong disciplined the children, which is something I've always hated doing. She also translated when the children didn't understand. The kids obviously learn much more in this kind of set-up.

The school I was working at was private so classes were much smaller than Prah Narai. Koong often talked about 'special' children. These kids came to class but never particiapted. In the West these children would live in residential homes and be closely monitored but mental health problems aren't properly recognised in Thailand.

I found these children fascinating. They obviously all suffered from different problems but were all treated the same way. One boy, who was missing half of his left arm, was very quiet but he obviously had a lot going on in his head. He was jittery, chewed on a little piece of plastic wrapping. He was largely ignored by the rest of the class and he ignored them but every once in a while he'd get excited and come over and grab hold of me and fixate on something.

Some of the 'special' students were merely not as intelligent as their peers. They could so the work but not as quickly or to the same ability as everyone else.

One little boy liked to be told fables. Koong would sit at the back with him and tell him traditional Thai stories. He'd fall asleep almost instantly but wake up looking startled if Koong stopped.

There was only one student that Koong told me to be careful around. He'd bitten her a few times and he liked to hit the other children. It didn't help that he was twice, maybe 3 times the size as all the other 6 year olds. He lay down on the ground and wailed and moaned. If he got up all the kids would get up and run away from him. He looked permanently distressed. I felt sorry for him.

The most fascinating children were a little boy and a little girl who shared a table. They obviously hated each other and the other children that shared a table with them were wary. The little girl would move away from the boy, causing the others to shuffle around so they weren't too close to her. But they'd shuffle around 'til another student was too close to the boy then he'd start shuffling round in the opposite direction to get away from him. The little girl and boy would hit each other and yel at each other. Koong left them to it.

The older childen were very inqusitive about me. They wanted me to write my name, age and birthday in their notebooks and they drew pictures of me beside them. They asked me questions about my life at home; did I have pets; siblings; was my house made out of wood or cement. They asked these questions in Thai and Koong translated. But they were still listening to English and therefore learning. Sometimes you could spend a whole lesson with the older students just trying to get them to be quiet.

It ended there but reading it over makes me realise that if I'm ever gonna teach again it'll be the young 'uns because they're not as cocksure as teenagers are. Hmmm...makes me long for a better job and a bit of adventure.


ganching said...

This was really interesting Hannah and also good that it is making you think about doing something more interesting!!

Anonymous said...

Made me w3any to go to Thailand and work with people with learning difficulties. I'm sure it's probably not recognised so much as here. Wonder if i could persaude Linda. dad xzxxx

hootchinhannah said...

Thanks Ganching. Writing about Thailand definitely makes my fet itch.

Dad, I think it's be a brilliant idea for you to work in Thailand. Sometimes it was so sad to see people with learning difficulties and how they were treated (never meanly because Thai's are buddhist) but they're is an ignorance as far as mentsl health's concerned.

Anonymous said...


There are so many children here in Ireland who need your help as well, children with real learning difficulties who are as closed off from the outside world as if they were speaking a different language. Think about it. This country needs young people like you to build a new future, I hate to think of more of our young having to leave to find the challenges that inspire them as so many previous generations did. I stumbled onto this blog by accident a while ago and I was impressed with your intelligence and wit. Don't waste it, life is short. I speak from experience, you only regret the things you didn't do, rarely the things you did.

Your anonymous friend

Anonymous said...

What your anonymous friend said is true. We have a couple of people from Ireland with us cuz there is no real service in Ireland. One of em does me head in cuz i'm his named nurse and he has OCD b ut i like him anyway. Dad xxxxx

hootchinhannah said...

I know exactly what you're saying anonymous, I know there is much I can do in this country. And I do want to. Perhaps I feel that I would be better equipped to help people here if I take myself off and learn as much as I can from other cultures and other ways of being.

Have you considered starting a blog of you own anon? You always leave such encouraaging comments here that put a smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are not annoyed by by my comments Hannah! I know I am poking my nose in without invitation, but as I said, I found your blog by accident one day and found it very funny, sometimes sad, but always enlightening. I have encouraged others to read it also - who knows, you could become famous through it. I have thought about blogging myself, but I spend too much time reading other peoples to have the time. I want to encourage you for all the reasons I have said. I truly believe you have a lot to give. I don't believe that work should be the most important thing in life, 'work to live and not live to work' is a good motto, but if you have a 'calling' such as helping children, then follow it if you can. But if you have itchy feet and want to travel, get that out of your system first. But don't forget to come home! Above all else, to thine old self be true.

Your anonymous friend

Anonymous said...

Of course, that should have read 'To thine own self be true' Perhaps it was a Freudian slip, and I am the old self I want to be true to!

hootchinhannah said...

LOL don't you just love Freudian slips! I really do appreciate your comments and don't feel that you are poking your nose in without invitation atall. If you do find time to start a blog be sure to let me know. Until, then please keep commenting and sharing your thoughts and ideas.