Phetchaburi, Thailand 2006-2007

Phetchaburi is where I did my volunteer teaching right after the US Coast Guard.  The name of the school was Benchamatheputhit. Here I taught physical education and health to 7th, 8th and 9th graders. Most of the kids I taught could not speak any English and the others spoke very little.  Not enough to have a conversation. For health class I had to draw a lot of pictures to show the information the school wanted the kids to learn. In physical education I could use my body movements to show them what I wanted. I worked with a Thai teacher and a couple student Thai teachers when they could be there. This helped when trying to really explain the rules of games. I learned new sports from them and taught new American sports to them. We had a great time.  

The town was a true Thai town with almost no foreign travelers coming to look around. The only foreigners were the teachers from other English-speaking countries. This made it so I had to learn the customs and language enough to be able to just eat and not offend anyone.  This experience, and my travels in Thailand, gave me a new perspective and was the reason  why I wanted to get a degree in anthropology when I got back to the states.  

Living, teaching and traveling to many places in and around Thailand changed me forever.  These places and what I saw at the schools made me begin to understand what difficult conditions existed for struggling  cultures in some of the remoter regions of the world, out of site from our privileged existence in the States.  The way I was brought up was considered really poor and rough by my friends.. But here I would have been living like a really wealthy person. And the difficult circumstances of their situation meant a poor education level and few general life skills beyond basic survival. 

I also started to understand the need for assisting these communities in a way that didn’t undermine them. I would give what I could, when I could, to help the communities and people who had so little. While in Thailand, I became intensely aware of the extreme measures that were being taken to suppress some of these cultures,  like the genocide of the Karen going on by Burma, and no news about it anywhere else in the world. It made me start to think more intensely about these communities without the tunnel vision I had  growing up  in the United States.  This was also even before Myspace was big. Emails where the way to still contact anyone. Here a couple pictures from that time.