It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for- I started working at my volunteer placement!
If were not aware or have simply forgotten, my volunteer assignment was to teach English at a local public school. There was one other person assigned to work at the school from my group- his name is Joon and he is the same age as me. There is also a girl who has been here for 3 weeks who is working with us. We all were dropped off at the school this morning and met first with the English teacher there. Her name is Chawanna. She is about 60-65 years old and she is a little Asian firecracker! She seems to be in 10 places at once and even I had a hard time keeping up with her. Joon went with another teacher to teach the older kids, so I followed Chawanna around for the day. She teaches about 5 classes per day, coming in for about an hour at a time to teach English. We had kids in 2nd-4th grade (I think), so they were 8-10 years old. Their English is really pretty good.
When I first walked into the classroom, I was not prepared for how popular I was going to be with the kids. You would think Barack Obama had just walked into the room. The kids ran to their desks and sat up straight although they were bursting with excitement to meet me! Chawanna had them stand up and say in unison, “Hello, it is nice to meet you. Welcome to our class. What is your name, please?” To which I responded in my best English, “My name is Katrina!” I wrote it on the board and they copied it diligently into their notebooks. She then instructed them to ask where I was from and they recited, “Where are you from, please?” but they weren’t surprised to hear me say “I am from America!” Chawanna carried on with the normal lesson, checking homework and working on assignments. She would have me pronounce the English words that the kids were learning so that they could hear what the words sounded like from a native speaker. I could really tell that even just my presence in the room was a huge motivator for these kids to learn English. Every time I walked by they wanted to touch me, or have me check their work to see if it was correct. They were elated to hear me say “Good job” or “perfect!”
I ate lunch in Chawanna’s office with the other volunteers. The kids were constantly peeking in the door to get a look at us. When we would pass by them in the hallway, they would stop and bow to us, saying, “Good morning!” It really was like having a little paparazzi! Chawanna asked if I liked to sing songs. I told her that I loved to sing and was armed with about 100 songs that I could bust out whenever she wanted. She asked if I would like to teach a song to her afternoon class and I agreed.
The afternoon class was a little younger, so I decided to teach them the Penguin Song which is a short, simple camp song in which you get to act like a penguin. First, Chawanna had me right the words on the board and the kids all copied them down into their notebooks. Then, she explained the meaning of the words to them. I then taught them the song, camp style. They caught on pretty quickly although it was nowhere close to perfect. Although the words were a little difficult, they loooved the actions and wanted to sing it over and over again. Then we went outside and sang the song 2 more times on the playground. Needless to say, I was a little penguined-out by the end but it was so cute to see them trying to pronounce the words!
Although it was sad to leave the kids, I am glad I get to see them tomorrow. Almost all of the schools in Bangkok are shutting down for a few days because of the swine flu (H1N1), but luckily my school hasn’t gotten canceled yet.
Tonight we ventured out to Chinatown and another night market, which was really fun. I’m getting better at bargaining, but I have a feeling that my blonde hair and obvious American-ness are causing me to get ripped off. No complaints, however, because the stuff is still really cheap.
And one more thing, I had this really amazing salmon with Japanese teriyaki sauce for dinner. MMMM!