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April 10, 2005

Teaching English

The mood at the Volunteer Center has changed dramatically over the last week. The 100 Days Memorial has been a real turning point, as the Center now needs to look toward long-term building and away from initial emergency need. They are slowly making the change.

In the meantime, many volunteers (like me) who extended their stays a week, a month, two months, to be able to participate in the event have moved on, and the project managers are taking breathers after a long work period with few breaks.

So it's been pretty quiet around here. While Scott always has organizational work for me with the Pakarang Boatyard project, I still want to try some new things, so I have taken a one-week assignment teaching English to all-ages at a Kura Buri camp. It's more than 40km north of here. I will stay in some provided housing with a volunteer named Lisa, and teach three one-hour classes a day, focusing on tourism. ("Bathroom" "Check Please" "Can I help you?")

This is an investment in the Thais future, as the good jobs here all focus around tourism—hotels, motorbike rentals, restaurants, tours, taxi service. Many of the well-employed English speakers were working in the resorts near the water when the wave came. For the area to rebuild, they will need to rebuild the tourism they can offer here.

For those of you still puzzling, No I don't know any Thai. An embarrassingly small amount. Hardly even a useful amount. The week will be challenging. I suspect I will learn more than the "students."

The Songkran Festival, or Water festival for the Thai New Year is this week as well. No idea how we will celebrate; it will depend on What They Do in Kura Buri. (I ultimately decided to skip Chiang Mai—It would have been four days' travel roundtrip (spent entirely on a series of buses), additional expense, and lost time helping others here. Moira decided to take a week off at Krabi with some other friends. She may join me in Kura Buri next week.)

If the week is good I can extend into a second week — or I can come home early. It's a pretty open arrangement.

The only real bummer is that I have just finished the one book I had here (Life of Pi...I jettisoned ShutterBabe in BKK when my suitcase was too heavy, knowing it was an unwise decision. Regrets!). The best second-hand book I've found so far is The World According to Garp — German language edition. See, Khao Lak isn't only geared toward tourism, it's geared toward German/Swedish tourism. You find evidence of this in unusual places. Like the pile of used books. Entirely in German. Stay tuned to see how this shakes out.

Posted by sedda at April 10, 2005 02:33 PM