Ban Phov Mock Village
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who may never be able to repay you....
That quote was almost perfect, however, the children repaid us more than anyone can understand.
Today was the most rewarding day I have ever had and I am sure I speak for the girls as well when I say that our experience was the highlight of the trip.
Last night, Jacqui and I were discussing my reasoning for coming on this trip and teaching English was brought up.A man overheard our conversation and asked if we would be interested in teaching English in a village about thirty minutes away. Of course the only word that could come out of my mouth was "absolutely." He was a teacher himself and wanted help teaching the children English from native speakers. I decided to return to our hotel immediately to get ready for my big teaching debut.The girls continued their night, but to my surprise they were completely on point in the morning.
The gentleman arrived at our hostel around 11am.At this point, he had thought itwas only me coming to teach, so all he had was his motorbike.To his delight, the other three were more than interested and he quickly got a tuk tuk for the rest of the crew.I couldn't resist the motorbike though, so I led the way on the motorbike (well, I just weighed it down while he took us to the village).
Both the tuk tuk and motorbike could only go so far as the road ended and turned into mud.I don't think we have this kind of mud in the states, it was insane; but to be honest, I absolutely loved the feeling of it squishing between my toes.I know, there might be something wrong with me, but mud is the least of my worries.
The muddy hike continues for another thirty minutes; probably could have been a little shorter if four Americans weren't attempting the trek, but we made it.The classroom was one big room and more like a hut.There were no desks, chairs, books, pictures on the walls, furniture, etc.There were two benches, one for sitting and one for writing.Then there was one whiteboard and one marker.And this is where the teaching began.
I began the lesson with animals, first writing the word then attempting to draw the picture of what the animal looked like.The kids got a kick out of that.Apparently I am no artist, and they noticed that within two words.Because of the different age levels and the difficulty of four teachers teaching six children at once, we decided to split the group up.Court and Jax took the older children in the corner and worked on more advanced objects and pronunciations.They even busted out the music and were dancing at one point.
After teaching for a couple hours and with the children getting restless, we decided a fieldtrip was necessary.Being that the village was only thirty minutes away from the main town, we all assumed the children have been there before.We were more than wrong.This was a first for all the children; one even ran and put on a collared shirt to dress up for the occasion.Of course, I cried.Nothing new for me.
So off we went.Taking every teaching opportunity possible along the way.Pointing out colors, flowers, animals and anything else we could see.The biggest learning opportunity award definitely goes to Courtney.She was teaching the children how to do a bank transaction at the ATM.This wouldn't be so hilarious if each ATM machine begins with "please cover your pin number," and shows a hand covering the pin pad.Court must have shown her number at least eight times, even let the children do it themselves.
After cruising through town we posted up at a restaurant along the Mekong river.Another clue that this was the children's first time in the city was when the little girl pointed to the river and said, "Mekong river!!"Another heart breaker.
Pizza is what we decided on for lunch and the kids were ecstatic.Who doesn't love pizza and it was such a joy to introduce our new little friends to our caloric culture.Pepsis, shakes, and pizza were order and every child had the biggest smile on their face.The little tyke next to me had never had a soda before. I know I should feel a little guilty, but I just can't overcome the excitement that I was able to share that moment with him.
Another heart breaker: the teacher that recruited us told us that the children said, "they were so happy to walk around town with us."I wasn't sure if that was the reason they wouldn't let go of our hands or if it was because they were scared and over whelmed with the newness, but it didn't matter.I can't describe or begin to illustrate what today was like, but hopefully the photographs and my blogs can help paint a picture.I saw every child's eyes light up, whether it be for the pizza or motorbikes, they were impressed and loving every minute of it.
After lunch we took a quick trip to the market and bought all the little ones bracelets to remember us.Our journey doesn't end here though.Tomorrow is another fun filled English teacher day, only this time we are coming prepared and organized.Court and I went out and bought books and are currently putting together lesson plans.
Not only were we the teachers, but we also became to the student within minutes of the trip.During the tuk tuk ride, we started asking how to say certain words in Laotian.Not only does that establish a connection with the children, it is fascinating attempting another language.It also reminds us how difficult it is to learn a language that is completely foreign (and not Latin based).This lesson continued during lunch when Courtney pointed to each English word on their notebooks and had them say the word in English, then repeat it in Laotian. - here's one: the Laotian word for cat is Meow.Brilliant!
$200 won't stop Dr. B or myself from changing a life, and I refuse to let that interfere with what I came here to do.
From what we understand, the parents of the children are so thankful for today that they are having a type of ceremony for us tomorrow, or something like along those lines.I believe it is for good luck, and after my frog incident in Bangkok, I'm hoping that's what it is.Whatever it may be, I am just thankful to be included in their rituals and culture.
This blog is to be continued…we are talking about starting a fundraiser for the children who cannot afford to attend school.It would cost $109.99 a year per child to go to school and many families cannot afford that; therefore, many children are not able to attend school.Their families work all day in the rice fields to pay for the school fees as they know how important education is.Unfortunately, because of various reasons, not all the families are able to make the payment.
Once we figure out how we can make these donations work, I will send details.It doesn't have to be money for school, a dollar can bring a smile to a child's face in this part of the world.I will be talking with the locals tomorrow and getting more ideas of how we can help.We spend a great amount of money on unnecessary items where I come from and just from being here for this short amount of time, I have realized we can use our resources to better lives other than our own. Until our next blog….