Phuket Has Been Good To Us

Working to improve the economic opportunities and life chances of young people, by funding and implementing high quality, practical English language education in government schools on Phuket Island.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Teaching for a Nonprofit - by Teacher Caitlin

The first thought that comes to my mind when I think about the children that Phuket Has Been Good to Us works with is:

Many of the children, particularly the residential students, have been through so much hardship in their short lives but are still able to smile. I am often in awe when I see the little community that is created among the children who live at the school. Without parents to help them, they depend on each other. Working at RPG 36 Kamala School is not always easy as there are often underlying psychosocial issues that are not addressed properly. As one would expect, working with children of diverse histories is challenging but also incredibly worth it. Nothing that is worth it is ever easy, right?

To be a teacher is to be a role model, a leader and a person to turn to. The ultimate goal for me is to make a safe space for these children; a space where they are free to be children, to play, to learn and to grow. I believe that it is crucial for children to be able to play and have time to simply be young and carefree. When we let children play they develop the skills needed to thrive in our world. That is why Coconut Club, PHBGTU's afterschool and weekend programme, is essential. Residential students can join after school and just relax and be kids. With activities including drawing, cooking, and sports- we are enabling them to have fun and explore their own interests while practicing English with us in an informal atmosphere. Coconut Club becomes a safe space to be just like any other child and to bring normalcy back into their lives. 

Coming from an International Development background with a focus on Children and Education, working for a non-profit is an integral part of who I am. I doubt I would ever teach English at an International school simply because, for me, there needs to be a greater purpose. I believe there needs to be an overarching goal we strive towards. I feel comfort in knowing that the Foundation seeks to improve the lives of children through a supplementary English programme so they can enter into well-paid jobs in the tourism industry once they graduate.

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Thailand, and the largest industry in Phuket, generating more than 145,000 jobs with more being created each day. English is necessary to communicate, negotiate and make transactions with tourists. If a person can speak English and are able to have conversations with foreigners, then they are much more likely to obtain a higher paying job securing economic stability. 
 Is teaching English a long-term solution that will fix all the ongoing development issues in Thailand? No.
 However, the Foundation has the potential to change hundreds of children’s lives by improving their employability and opening doors where there would not be otherwise.

It may sound silly, but my favourite part of being a teacher is being able to give positive support to the students that come into my classroom each day. Being able to encourage my students to believe in themselves is something I cannot take for granted. Seeing their smiles and giving them a high five (or 10 high fives) for a job well done is often the highlight of my day. When we lift children up and teach them that they can do anything, we begin to instill a sense of hope and possibility beyond the school gates.

I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far and am learning a lot about what kind of teacher and role model I want to be moving forward. I feel grateful and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store!

Teacher Caitlin's Primary 1 class at RPG 36, Kamala School is made possible by a grant from XL Catlin. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Teacher Diego: A bumpy road to becoming an English Teacher

Teaching in Thailand is one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had yet. I’ve learned a lot about the culture of this beautiful place and I will never regret my decision to leave Italy and start my adventures abroad, which ultimately led me here.
I had to work hard to get the opportunity to take a TEFL course, going through countless adventures in Australia and New Zealand to learn the appropriate level of the English language that allowed me to start this amazing career. Despite my Bachelor degree in foreign languages and literature achieved in Italy, the language barrier was huge when I landed in Australia for the first time. Every day included many mistakes and struggles with incomprehensible words and local phrases. However, unashamed, I kept trying and trying until my conversations were fluent and my understanding was nearly perfect.

Then, after 4 years, it was time to face the new adventure that I had planned after my degree: teaching English in Asia. Many friends told me about their amazing experiences visiting Thailand so I did my research on the internet and found a very interesting TEFL course on the island of Koh Samui.  Upon arrival I discovered paradisiacal beaches, warm weather, and amazing fresh food; it seemed about right. In short, it was one of the best adventures of my entire life, I was surrounded by amazing people - future teachers, in fact, the location was beautiful and life seemed to be amazingly perfect (which it is even now).

The TEFL course was a blast and it went by too fast. The instructor was clear and funny and after the classes I was definitely ready to apply for a teaching job. I had quick replies from three different schools: one in Songklha, one in Krabi, and one from a charity Foundation called “Phuket Has Been Good To Us”, like the name says, in Phuket. I decided Songkhla was too far and in the middle of nowhere so I placed this offer as my last choice and arranged a Skype interview with the other two offers. Any doubts I had were gone after these interviews. There was nothing wrong with the Krabi school but the professional and friendly people on the other side of my screen from Phuket Has Been Good To Us (PHBGTU) were just amazing! My questions were all answered by the senior teacher, the recruitment volunteer and the boss of the Foundation. I decided to start my adventure from the Island of Phuket!

Friendly staff welcomed me in the small town of Kamala. We had lunch and introduced ourselves; everyone was very friendly and at the same time very professional. The staff and my co-workers helped me a lot during the first months of the job until I got used to it and I started to have my first achievements. Students began to get used to me; the younger ones started to see me as an example and the older ones as a friendly face who they could open up to and explain their problems, dreams, and hobbies. Teaching in the underprivileged government school is not the easiest thing to do but the rewards are enormous considering we can make a small difference in the lives of less fortunate students. I have been so fortunate as to be put in charge of the P6 class here in Kamala which has been sponsored by Jean-Claude and K Kantaya, meaning I can make an even bigger difference.  

Every day is a new experience and there is something new to learn. Even after one year and a half as a teacher for PHBGTU I am still surprised an amazed the Thai people, the community and my co-workers and I’m looking forward to the rest of this academic year ahead.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Global Perspective on Teaching English: by teacher Violeta

I came to Thailand from Spain. I grew up in a small city in the centre of Spain. Since I was a child I wanted to be a teacher because I loved studying, going to school and I had the chance to have some amazing teachers that inspired me.

While I was at university studying a degree to be an English Teacher in Spanish schools, I found out my passion for the English language and started travelling thanks to several scholarships that I obtained from the Spanish government.

I started travelling only during the summers to improve my English skills and got the amazing opportunity to travel to England, Canada and the US and live with different families for a month or two at a time as well as got to know people from around the world.

After I finished my first degree, I kept on my studies and went on to complete another degree to be an educational counsellor. Unfortunately, Spain was not a good place to work because of the economic crisis and after a few short-term jobs, I decided to move to England.

I started off by doing some volunteering artwork which was a really amazing experience. However, after a while, the teacher within me started to rebel and I decided to move on to teaching again.

I worked with a charity that had opened a new school. I worked as a volunteer teaching assistant at the beginning and then I took on the kindergarten teacher role. I worked for that school as a volunteer for three years and this really taught me how deeply I can bring benefit to kids as well as benefit myself from teaching. I learnt that as teachers we have the opportunity to take part in the development of children not only by teaching the academic curriculum but also providing the kids with some tools that will be very helpful for the rest of their lives in many different aspects.

Unfortunately, after almost four years of full volunteering, I ran out of resources and needed to find a paid job so I decided to leave England and try in a different part of the world.
I stayed with my family for a few months trying to figure out what to do and where to go and somehow I found out about Thailand which was a complete stranger to me at that time.

Within one month I decided to leave Spain again and came to Phuket to complete a TEFL course so that I could have more opportunities to work as a teacher around the world.

That first month in Thailand was great, I was amazed by the way of life and how people take life in a more relaxed way. So, I decided to look for a job in Thailand. I went to the east coast of Thailand and worked as an English teacher for a private school for a few months. It was a good experience that allowed me to get to know the thai system and I also met many amazing teachers.
However, I realised that I was missing being able to help children in a deeper and more meaningful way than just teaching English and therefore started to look for other types of job.

I had read things about PHBTU while I was doing my TEFL course and right away I was drawn by the foundation and its purpose so as soon as I discovered that they were looking for teachers I saw the great opportunity to be able to take part in this inspiring project. With help from my sponsor, MontAzure, I was able to join the team and start teaching soon after.

When I arrived again in Phuket I was so excited to start working and meet the children at both schools where I work. It was a challenging start as it always is in a new job but the children quickly got my heart and working with the team of amazing teachers and volunteers gave me more reasons to love it. The students always seem so happy to see me even if I am not one of their teachers and they learn very quickly.

Working with unprivileged children has brought me a new perspective on life that makes me keep striving to improve my skills as a teacher as well as a person trying to be the best I can be.

My goal for this year is to enjoy every day and take the most of this great opportunity.
I would like to thank the foundation for giving me this amazing opportunity as well as to all the sponsors and in particular, I would like to express my gratitude to MontAzure for sponsoring the English Programme for Anuban 1, 2 and 3 at Anuban Kamala School.

Friday, August 25, 2017

“No I don’t teach, I work in the Office” – by Erin Grout

My mother was skeptical when I said I was leaving for Thailand in a month to work as a full-time volunteer for an NGO for half a year. She was reassured when she saw that the organization had a website, was on Google maps, replied to my emails, and generally seemed legitimate. Still, I had student loans and the more responsible choice at the time seemed to be staying in the US, getting a paid job, and maybe taking a holiday to Thailand someday. But I decided it was the opportunity I was looking for and, bank-account-be-damned, I was off.

Luckily, it turned out moving to Phuket and volunteering for Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation (PHBGTU) was a great decision. Volunteering for the Foundation doesn’t just mean making coffee (although we do enjoy our morning cup of Joe); I became the primary marketing and communication fellow or the “Marketing Department”. This role meant liaising with media sponsors, updating our social media, creating our quarterly newsletter, marketing and helping to plan our major fundraising events, and more! In short it was amazing career experience, working with great people, on a beautiful tropical island! #Winning.

Even the fact that I happened to arrive on the island during an El Nino year –which meant the rainiest high-season most people seemed to be able to remember – hasn’t put a damper on my time as a full-time volunteer. One of the best parts of the job is helping out at Coconut Club, the after-school programme for residential students at Kamala school. For an hour each day we play games or create arts and crafts with students who live full time at the school because they are orphans or their parents are unable to take care of them. Spending time with the children we work to benefit through quality English language programmes is the best reminder that a day full of monotonous emailing was worth the effort. 

Fortunately, working in the office was usually very dynamic and meant taking responsibility for a variety of projects. I stayed with the Foundation for 9 months and was able to take part in all three of our major fundraising events over the course of the year: A Night at the Opera; Black Tie, Muay Thai; and Pop Up 3. While I was primarily working on marketing our small team shared responsibility for tasks and everyone was involved in our fundraising events. Even our seven-member teaching team would help out before and on event day.

 While a salary is a nice perk of any job, I am incredibly happy that I chose to be a full-time volunteer for PHBGTU. I was lucky enough to move to Phuket and meet fun people, take part in great festivals, eat delicious food, and travel around Thailand a bit! Plus, while my time with the Foundation is wrapping up, I am hoping to stay on in Phuket and I am therefore seeking new work opportunities. In the meantime, I will definitely stay informed on all the happenings at Phuket Has Been Good To Us and take part whenever I can!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Brand New Website Launch Next Week! -by Evi Verdoodt

Working together with the Weber State University, Utah, USA, we are excited to announce that we will be launching a new user-friendly and dynamic website next week. HOORAY! Watch our FB page for the exact date and time to join us in our virtual launch party!

Phuket Has Been Good To Us’s previous website was kindly donated by the ESCAPE and we were able to provide all our news, events and sponsors information to our supporters through the website for a long time. After several years, however, it became evident that we needed to update in order to keep our content relevant. Moving into a decade where dynamic content is very important, we were enthusiastic about the suggestion of Dr Fry from Weber State University to support the Foundation by building a new good looking, user-friendly and dynamic website. And we are so happy with the result.

You are definitely going to want to check out and discover our new look and exciting new content! 

We are confident our supporters are recognized and thanked more than ever on the new website, our future teachers and volunteers can navigate more easily through the website and find all necessary information and all visitors experience a pleasant journey, seeing new videos, pictures, upcoming events and exciting news!

Thanks to Oscar Suarez for dedicating his time and choosing to design our new website as a project in his curriculum and thanks to Dr Fry for coordinating between the Foundation and his students, and for his guidance and the support.

Be sure to follow us and stay in touch so you don't miss the official launch date!