After some complications and a slight delay, the brand new term is now underway! This term we decided that the lessons are going to be available for the current students of the Non Formal Education centre in Takuapa.
And so begins a four week term for the local people that are keen to learn. The staff at the centre have helped a lot, finding us a room that’s not too hot. We’ve been having a class of about 15 and they’re a joy to teach, really keen. They truly are as good as gold from bus drivers to farmers, young and old. As the term goes on more will become clear, but it’s looking good to continue next year.
So we’re happy to say that the term’s begun and most of all we’re all having fun. Thank you for your support and we look forward to giving you more information in our next report!
In July 2007 GVI started teaching free English classes to the small but rapidly developing town of Ao Luk; five years on, the base here has seen nearly 450 volunteers come through its doors and make a difference to the warm and welcoming Ao Luk community. As such, over the course of 2012 demand for our free classes has declined as thousands of community members have worked their way through the GVI course and become confident English speakers. Many have used their newly learned language skills to develop their own community tourism businesses, others have improved their employment prospects and some of our younger students have gone on to study English at university in the hopes of becoming English teachers.
In September we closed our base in Ao Luk and moved to a new location on the west coast in Phang Nga province. We’re settling in nicely here in Baan Nam Khem. Amidst these beautiful surroundings – endless beaches, stunning waterfalls, thick jungles – much of the community lives in poverty, with many families still struggling to recover from the effects of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, 8 years on. Baan Nam Khem was the worst hit place in Thailand and those who survived lost everything, even the land they lived on; with no formal property records, many families were unable to prove ownership over their land – in the redistribution many lost out entirely.
We’ve been meeting some of the groups who have been working here since the tsunami, finding out about the work they do and what we can do to help them. The Foundation for Education & Development work primarily with Burmese migrant workers, some of the poorest people in the area and worst affected by the tsunami. They provide education, healthcare support – including hygiene, nutrition, family planning and HIV/AIDs awareness, - legal assistance and vocational training programs to Burmese migrants, who are often marginalised and exploited. They have had a great impact on the lives of the Burmese community and we hope to provide support for their healthcare and education programs.
We’ve also met with various other organisations in the area;
I hope as our supporters, you are as excited by this new challenge as we are. Thank you for all your support in 2013 and we look forward to sending you more information on how the project in Phang Nga develop!
We started this month with a fair at the Ao Luk Non-Formal Education (NFE) Centre, where we have been running free English classes for adults since July 2007. There was a lot of fun to be had and lots of mess to be made; Teaching Children (TC) volunteers Sophie & Laura got to work painting faces while the rest of us ran the various games & activities, including a 3 legged race, hoopla, pass the parcel, fishing for prizes, a can shack and a crafts table making penguin piggy banks out of plastic bottles! By far everyone’s favourite was the Global Village Idiot stocks, where students got the chance to bombard their teachers with wet sponges, water pistols and, eventually, entire buckets of water. Students – adults & kids, volunteers and staff all had a whale of a time and walked away drenched but happy.
As is tradition at the end of each term, we held a party at our base for all the students, community and volunteers, the theme this time being ‘GVI rak Ao Luk’ – ‘GVI loves Ao Luk’. The students always make a huge effort and, as always, brought an obscene amount of food, but this time we also had a special treat for them. After weeks of intensive training (thanks to GVI staff member and Ao Luk local, Apple) the volunteers & staff got dolled up in traditional Thai dress and performed a Thai dance at the party; I think we did a pretty good job and everyone loved it (or were too polite to say otherwise!). Laura B & Ian also put together a heart-warming and tear-jerking slideshow of some of the highlights of our time in Ao Luk. After hours of laughter, food and a lot of karaoke, our guests gradually drifted off, leaving us to close-up the karaoke with our set piece; as 1am approaches, so does the haunting (and mildly disturbing) howl of Bohemian Rhapsody!
As part of our Teacher Training initiative, aiming to improve the standard of English taught in schools by providing workshop for local teachers, GVI asked Rachaprachautit School if they would like to host one of these workshops. We were very excited when they replied that all of the schools in Koh Lanta, on hearing about the teacher training, had decided to close for 2 days so that all of the teachers could attend! For 2 days we ran workshops in the various techniques we use in our classes for the 45 teachers; they took part in English games and activities and everyone had a great time. Most weren’t even English teachers, but, with the launch of the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Economic Community in 2015 – for which English is the official working language – Thailand is in the midst of a national initiative to get everyone speaking English, and the teachers were eager for the opportunity to practice with native speakers. We were treated like royalty, fed endlessly and had the chance to see the beautiful National Park as well as some brilliant Thai dancing by the students.
August also saw the start of our final ‘full’ term in Ao Luk; over the past 5 years demand for our free classes has declined, as thousands of community members have worked their way through the GVI course and become confident English speakers. Many have used their newly learned language skills to develop their own community tourism businesses, others have improved their employment prospects and some of our younger students have gone on to study English at university in the hopes of becoming English teachers. The community has benefitted hugely from the classes and is in a good position to continue more independently, with GVI playing a smaller part in their English development.
Our services continue to be in great demand in Krabi province and beyond this month, primarily for teaching English, though we have been diversifying into other areas… The start of July saw us taking on the leaders of the various communities of Ao Luk district in a football match to open the Ao Luk Non-Formal Education Centre’s sports day. Our opponents were decked out very professionally in their yellow & blue kits while our kits were a little more…eclectic. Despite some excellent performances on the pitch we lost 3-2, but we gave them a run for their money and gave the spectators a fair few laughs!
We’ve been getting around even more than usual; on top of the usual free English classes at the Non-Formal Education (NFE) Centre and in schools we have been providing much needed language support at a local vocational college in Klong Hin and a full day of English activities for students in nearby Khao Panom. The NFE Centre has been putting our skills to good use, with a two-day English Camp for their students as well as a basic conversation workshop for their teachers.
Most excitingly, Jon, Julia and Jess – on the Teaching Children programme – joined GVI staff Laura on a trip to the incredible Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani province to teach 40 students from Phuket. They taught the kids about the flora & fauna of the park and were treated to some evening entertainment in return, as the kids took part in singing & dancing competitions. The Mayor of Phuket even turned up and demanded a performance from our resident songstress, Laura! Everyone had an amazing time and it was a great opportunity for Jon, Julia & Jess to see a slightly different but equally beautiful side of Thailand to the beaches and islands around Krabi.
A very eventful month for us!
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