With the end of orientation, it was time for our new volunteers to go to their schools, move into their new living quarters and settle into their new duties at their schools. I traveled with Ed by 12-passenger van to his school in Prae (about three hours south of Chiang Mai). The school has an old wooden house that was built for CVT volunteers many years ago and they cleaned it up for Ed to use. It is a two-story house with one room (living room, dining room and kitchen combined) down below and four rooms (bedroom, bathroom, all-purpose room and storage room) upstairs. Only the bedroom is air-conditioned, but the school thoughtfully provided two fans to help move air in other parts of the house. They also provided a refrigerator, two burner propane cooktop, toaster, and electric hot-pot, along with dishes and silverware. A simple bed, two tables (one down, one up) and some chairs complete his home furnishings.
On Monday, we met with the other English teachers and the director of the school so that they could meet Ed and allow him to demonstrate the computer program that has helped him to teach English in other countries. After the demonstration, the teachers discussed how it might be used and made plans to incorporate Ed and his language learning software into their program. One of the teachers who was very helpful in this discussion was Teacher Udom, who is pictured here with Ed after the meeting. Teacher Udom is the son of missionaries to Thailand who are still serving there. He grew up in Thailand and is bilingual and he has been very helpful to Ed during this settling-in period.
I then traveled to see Ben at his school in Bangkok. Ben had already survived a week of school by the time I arrived. Since he does not have a teaching background, the school has decided to have him serve as a Teacher’s Aide for the first few weeks. This way, he can observe other more experienced teachers and learn from them. Teacher Jimmy, shown here with Ben, is one of the teachers that he will work with in the coming weeks. Ben has an apartment on campus – actually, on the top floor of a classroom building. His school is barely a block from a large shopping center and just over a block from the nearest BTS Skytrain station. Sajja Pittaya School is a historically Chinese-Thai School and is currently one of only two schools that teach all three languages (Chinese, Thai and English) to the students. Ben is eager to play his guitar and has already been assigned a date to prepare morning devotions.
Director Prattana has been out on maternity leave for two months. Her daughter came to church with her today for the first time and I was able to snap a photo of the two of them after morning worship. I have been amazed at all that Director Prattana has been able to do in the short time that she has been Director of the school. Two years ago, the school built a new playground under roof for the children to enjoy – even in the hot season and the rainy season! Last year, every classroom was retrofitted with air-conditioning and the school received and installed a new security system. Bathrooms were also upgraded and repaired. This year, the entire school received a fresh coat of paint – and what a difference all this has made!! Also, the teachers were relocated into a new spacious office that is also air-conditioned. A new computer lab was completed over the summer and is now ready for use. I can hardly wait to see what Director Prattana and her board of directors will do this year!
More Photos (double-click to enlarge):