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.|