From Student to Teacher – Thoughts and Advice from Mr. Jakkrawut Monkong
As teachers (or staff supporting teachers) it is always wonderful to see your old students doing well. We were thrilled to catch up with Mr. Jakkrawut Monkong who was a student at Kamala school, went to University and is now teaching at Kamala school. He kindly agreed to let us follow up with a few questions to get his take on our Foundation, education, his career path, and his advice to current students.
What is your first memory of Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation, Coconut Club, and English teachers at Kamala School?
My first memory is the teachers’ sacrifice; spending their time helping the underprivileged children and working hard for them. Thanks to the Foundation for being with us for 8-9 years. Also, Coconut Club has so many activities for the children and allows them to be together with friends and teachers.
What motivated you to go to University?
I had a terrible life before, and I was scared of that, so I thought I should have a secure life by working with the government. As a government servant, my parents will get the social welfare from the government. That is what I can give back to my parents for looking after me when I was young.
Another inspiration I had was through reading the story of the King. The King had the idea that the colour of government servants’ uniforms should be ‘light brown” – the colour of the soil. This was in keeping with Thailand’s character as an agricultural, farming and ploughing nation. The “light brown” coloured uniform is the colour of the soil, so when the government servants go out to work with the people, they don’t need to worry about the stain on their uniform. On the other hand, the strategy of soil colour uniform is because government servants should keep a low profile when listening to the peoples’ problems. The government servant is the representative of the King whose name “Phumipol” means “power of the land”. This inspired me to work as the King’s servant for our country.
Another inspiration was my Thai subject teacher. I realised she is a good person and apart from teaching in class she taught me other good things about life. She worried about the Thai language which is the heritage for the younger people and should be preserved. As a Thai, I think I should teach the correct Thai language and retain Thai culture the same as my Thai teacher did before. This motivated me to study my Thai subject.
How do you think having English lessons has helped you in your education or life?
I feel ashamed I didn’t pay attention when studying English subject in high school. When I grew up I realised that English is quite important and is a part of life. Many people around me use English for communication as an international language. I think speaking English would help me to be able to study at a higher level or I could get a scholarship to study abroad. It will help me follow my dreams in the future.
What do you teach? What age?
I teach Thai subject and Thai literature for Mathayom (Senior) 4 and 5. I am also a homeroom teacher of Prathom (Primary) 2/2.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
As I said before, I have 3 reasons for becoming a teacher. First, I want to be a government servant. Second, I want to do good things to give back to my motherland and third I want to continue the idea and lessons of my teachers.
To be a good teacher is not only teaching for knowledge but teaching students about the morals and ethics to make them good people. Then they can give the knowledge to the next generation to develop Thailand to be great. If you decide to be a teacher it means you have to be a teacher for life, not only from 8 am to 4 pm. Teachers have to be a good model for their students and I was sure I could be a good model to my students.
Why did you come back to Kamala to teach?
8 years ago, the tsunami destroyed Kamala school. The King gave us a new school funded by the King’s Foundation. I got an opportunity to get free food and accommodation for 5 years. There were many other underprivileged students who came to study at this school. I realised I got a good chance to study at this school and I decided I should come back as a teacher to give back to the school that helped me. This is the reason why I came back to teach here.
What advice do you have for our students who want to go to University?
I want to advise to the students who are going to study at University to realise that passing the exam to study in the University; it is not the end but just the beginning of the University life. If they pay attention and study they will finish their education in 4 years. They should select good friends; bad friends will take them away from studying. They have to look after themselves and take more responsibility for studying in the University. If they play hard outside the class they have to study hard in the class. They should have limits for their life.
If they have some problems they cannot solve by themselves they should ask for advice from their adviser or their parents. Do not let it go until it is too late. The best help is from family.
What could Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation do better to help our students?
Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation has given us too much so I cannot think of the words to say. No one ever gave us more opportunities than the PHBGTU foundation did. Not only by teaching English to us in the school without any payment from school but taking the students to do special activities on Saturday that allow the students to get some experience and not feel alone. The students know they have someone around to support them. I think to support the children and teach them English will lead them to the good future.
What effect is the foundation having on students’ lives?
Many things; first, we are more comfortable to speak English to the tourists. Second, we have more confidence to speak English in general. Third, we have more basic English to study at the higher level and fourth, we can get a good job.
Mr. Jakkrawut Monkong