Day Camp at War Sra Kaew orphanage
Taking a day out is always a good thing, and when it's a day out with a meaningful purpose, it's even better. It's the beginning of school term, and the kids aren't quite ready for the start of school yet, so six teachers from the Spencer team took the Friday off, hopped on bus up to a small rural school in Lopburi province for a day of English fun with the kids.
And rural school it really is. Nestled in a bright green string of rice paddies recently dealt an agricultural blow by the intense rainy season floods, the school is tricky to get to. Down this road, along another, around a few potholes, turn here, over that bridge and, voila, there it is. I won't be able to find my way out of here without a GPS gadget, I found myself thinking.
Being where it is, the school isn't big. Around 100 children, ranging from kindergarten to grade 6, there is only one class for each grade level. Some classes only have a handful of students. One little wooden building stretches out under a shelter of trees, and another more modern building, recently donated by a nearby temple, overlooks the swamp-like football pitch.
Today we have arranged for the 6 teachers to teacher two classes each; a fun start to the children's term and not yet a disruption to the classroom teachers' schedule. We decided to take the topic 'Monsters' and make it as fun as possible for the students, while at the same time giving the teachers a chance to introduce vocabulary related to parts of the body, numbers and perhaps colours. Perhaps too ambitious, but worth a try.
Upon arrival, we found that only three of the six classes were studying. Floor related problems being the chief contributing factor. So the teachers doubled up to share the teaching.
I shared with Tom, and the kids were so wonderful, well disciplined, but their English was pretty weak. They struggled with the instructions, but they were very creative with the activities when they finally understood.
In the first lesson, the teachers introduced the new language, drew pictures of bodies and asked the students to draw each other so they could practice the names of the part of the body. There are some amazingly talented artists tucked away in these classrooms.
The second lesson was dedicated to creating monsters of the weirdest possible kinds.
They were very competitive. We rewarded them with sweets and biscuits and stuck their work up around the classroom. This was one of the highlights of my teaching career.
It was a wonderful experience from start to finish. The children themselves are an inspiration, they are polite, respectful, cheerful, fun-loving, attentive, well-behaved and so keen to do everything the way you want them to.
And then there was that trip home. Over the bridge, turn here, over that pothole, around that corner. Hang on – I don't recognise any of this. Are we lost??