Student Leader Diary – Thailand 2012 – The Land of Smiles

James Hallworth was selected as a Student Leader for one of the two Thailand projects that VESL ran at Edgehill University this year, here he reflects on his time overseas and the challenges he faced.  

I was very nervous about taking this role due to having no previous management experience. Looking back, I am so glad that I did. It threw up so many different challenges, from sorting out volunteer timetables to organising transport for 15 people! It was a wild ride, but the experience was amazing & once you get settled in to that responsibility it becomes a lot more relaxing.

During the 6 weeks I laughed more times than I could possibly imagine. To anyone who is brave or lucky enough to take on this role in Thailand – I promise you that it will not be regretted and that you are in for the ride of your life.

James with his school host and member of his team

My team were excellent and followed my advice. In general the areas that I felt most useful were lesson planning. A lot of my volunteers had no previous teaching experience so I used my knowledge to get them started and help them relax. It gives you a lot of pride to see them come on and turn into brilliant teachers.

That bit of extra freedom that comes with the role is very welcome. There is opportunity to see lots of different schools, teaching lots of different children & get to know the wonderfully kind people in each community.

Thailand its self was stunning. I have never been somewhere so visually striking. The people are kind and happy, the food is wonderful & the children are desperate to learn. That to me was the most important thing. The children are respectful, grateful & have a genuine interest in you and what you can teach them. It makes the experience much easier and also helps aid progress for both the pupils and the volunteers.

James saying goodbye to his students

The school I was based at was wonderful. As well as teaching nine different age groups, we ran sports sessions & English sessions with some of the Teachers. We did drawing competitions whenever we could as well. On the day we left it took about an hour because 300 children at a time wanted to hug us and never let go!

Thailand is referred to as the ‘Land of the Smiles’ for a very good reason. Every one you meet wants to smile, say hello and make sure that you had everything you need. I LOVE this Country.

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