I left the office at noon to run an errand on my lunch hour, little knowing that I would come face-to-face with some Thai students in an unexpected way. I had to purchase my airline tickets for my trip to Nakorn Sritammarat and Trang and I had to pay my monthly Internet service provider bill as well. It did not take long to finalize my travel plans to visit the two schools that are the farthest south and I was quickly on my way to the shopping mall where CAT, my local Internet service provider, has an office that accepts monthly payments. Having been there before, it did not take long to make my payment and head back to the parking garage to get my car. I was minding my own business when, suddenly, I heard a small voice behind me calling, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” and I heard the sound of running feet. I turned and was instantly surrounded by Thai students in uniform. What were they doing the shopping mall in the middle of a school day? It did not take long for me to find out.
The designated spokesperson (or the student whose turn it was to do the interviewing) asked if I was busy or whether I could answer a few questions. I agreed to answer a few questions. The entire interview was conducted in English. What is my name? Why am I in Thailand? Do I like Chiangmai? Why do I like Chiangmai? Do I like Thai food? What is my favorite Thai food? There were about twelve questions. As one student asked the questions, the others helped her fill out the questionnaire, spelling some English words and making sure she asked everything she was supposed to ask me. Then, one of the other students took a photo of the two of us together – proof that she had actually interviewed someone and not just filled out the form. She thanked me and I went my way – only to be surrounded again when I rounded the corner by another group of students doing the same thing. The process was the same, but the questions were slightly different. After this interview, I found one of the teachers standing nearby and learned that the students were from Varee Chiangmai School and this was an English class. What a great way to give the students some practical experience speaking English to non-Thai people! It was fun to be a part of their learning experience and to see their enthusiasm for this activity. (And it’s another idea to share with our schools as I visit!)