Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Lesson learned: but not much English

During the course of this trip, Chris and I have scheduled some visits to schools, bike clubs and various Oxfam projects – to promote the Cyclestrongman Expedition and sustainable living. A friend in Surat Thani needed some English teachers for a three-day English camp, so Chris, Gemma and I happily volunteered, thinking it would be a good way to make a bit of money as well as get some media attention.

However, my expectations again came back to bite me. It was obvious that the camp was fairly unorganised from the outset and the students (15-17 year olds) knew very little English meaning the activities and lessons we had planned were pretty much useless. We resorted to our repertoire of ‘fun’ games such as Simon Says, Eye Spy and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – and most of the time I felt like a circus clown rather than a professional English teacher. Thankfully we had Gemma there, as her enthusiasm and rapport with the students helped us to overcome the filthy looks that we were getting from the other teachers all weekend.

I was so relieved when it was over, especially since most of the weekend was spent driving around various tourist destinations on one of those extremely colourful and noisy Karaoke busses that Thai people love. Since returning to Surat Thani, I have had several annoying Thai pop songs ringing in my ears.

This experience has taught me a valuable lesson though. To never do something just because you are getting paid for it. I would rather have spent the time riding my bike up steep hills, sleeping on the hard floor in a wat and smelling like I’ve been sweating for three days straight without a shower.

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