Teacher Hamant’s experiences in Thailand
Before coming to Thailand, I was honestly never really one for charity work. I think we all give to charities of our choice from time to time but to fully involve ourselves in charity work is something else altogether. I’ve been teaching overseas for over four years now and have had quite a few interesting encounters here in Southeast Asia. The cultural diversity, the warmth of the locals and incredible food are just a few reasons why the region draws the attention of many all over the world. However, being with the Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation has given me a whole new outlook on life.
I teach in Baan Kalim School and being the only English teacher there has helped me to improve my Thai language skills to no end. The English programme at Kalim is kindly sponsored by Baan Rim Pa, without their sponsorship, we would not be able to teach the number of students that we do.
Signing the contract and applying for my first visa nine months ago, I imagined that teaching in Thailand would just be the same as teaching in any other Southeast Asian country. That naiveté was quickly washed away by the tide of reality. Teaching here has been the most challenging aspect of my career thus far. I have become deeply involved with my students and I have certainly grown as a teacher in so many ways. I’ve always believed that the best teachers never stop learning and it seems like the longer that I stay here, the more I learn.
The most difficult part of the job is probably hearing the backgrounds that these children come from. Many students prefer not to talk about their pasts and when we learn their histories, it’s quite plain to see why. As teachers, we’re expected to have the answers to the questions thrown at us; we’re expected to be there for the students and wipe every tear off their faces; we’re expected to be that rock that they can depend on when things get difficult. Then again, what does one say when a 6-year-old is standing there crying by herself because she misses her mother? What does one say when a child says that their mother is away working in Bangla Road? What does one do when a child tells you that they feel lonely? How does one help a child understand parental love when they live in school and only have the teachers to care for them?
I don’t have answers to any of these questions despite the time I have spent here. I am part of a group of teachers that have reconciled with the fact that it is impossible to answer these questions. All we can really do, over and above just teaching, is to attempt to fill the voids that exist in each and every one of these children. We try our best to do this every single day that we are on the job.
In April 2016, I have decided to ride 5000km all along the border of Thailand in order to raise money for the foundation so that we are able to continue doing the good work that we do here in Phuket. The ride is called ‘Going the Extra Mile’ because I want to go above and beyond my job as an English teacher for these children. Read about the ride here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/a13qe7/ab/05Fwh9
I believe in our cause and the people that work for the foundation. I believe that the children deserve a better tomorrow, far away from the hardship of today. I also believe that I will stay here for a long time trying to make this happen.