เรื่องเล่าอาสานานาชาติ EVS Happy Project for MLTV1501 Peace Village - Songkhla
Is it already a month? Or is it finally a month? It's quite difficult to feel time running here in Thailand. Maybe because of the hot weather, maybe because of the humidity. Sometimes I have the impression I have been living in this country for much more than a month, other times I feel like being arrived two days ago.
Building, organic farming and teaching English are the three main activities we are supposed to do, but here everything is “sabai sabai”, which means that there is nothing definitely planned and everything can be changed at any time. As soon as you understand that, your perspective changes. Organization and planning which were so important for you in Italy, are now not as much fundamental as they were before. Soon you realize that the idea of the impact you would have liked to leave is completely different from the mark you are actually leaving. It's not that much about planting cucumbers or mushrooms, nor about teaching English to the children, it's more about a kind of human and cultural impact.
In this first month, we have been living for two weeks in a village which asked to host future EVS volunteers. Our aim was to "test" it and provide a middle term and a final feedback about it. It was here where I started understanding that "my mark" would have been different from the one I imagined. Some of the volunteers were quite disappointed because in the Thai culture women are supposed to work in the fields and take care of the house and children, but are not supposed to be involved in building process. Here, we showed to the local people that women also can at least try to be involved in building activities and most of the time they are strong enough. We showed them that also guys can wash the dishes, as well as women can drink and smoke.
In the end, be open minded and be sure that your impact will never be the one you are expecting.
Time in Thaïland is different. Sabai Sabai. Be relax, follow the river, expect the unexpected… Sometimes, the time is a long string, you wait for the rain to pass, you wait for the temperature to cool down, you wait for the project to start or for a decision to be taken. And suddenly, you come into action: improvised English lesson for kids, collecting garbage, gardening, farming, cleaning the pigsty, collecting latex from rubber tree. Then it slows down again, it is the end of the day, so relax, enjoy the company of one another, singing, playing guitar, reading, playing cards…
And on Friday night, comes a new kind of rush: free time! It is now time to explore Thailand! It is kayaking, we’re falling, laughing and suddenly a cry of “catch that cap!”. We are taking a breath, walk a bit then around the corner a beautiful waterfall appears, our eyes are filled up of the scenery, smile longer than our face.
The next weekend we go to Koh Mook Island, a beautiful place, we are all together, and between music, beach, beers and laugh, that short time seems to stretch in an amazing present. Sadness is also present; Thailand lost its king, a person they hold dear in their hearts. Thai people are mourning, colours are forgotten, except black and white, the music is now silence and celebration doesn’t matter anymore. Later, little by little it returns, celebrations is an important part of Thai life, celebration is life over death, celebration is community, smile, sharing…
There are also some times of adrenaline, seeing a scorpion in your shower, or discovering centipede (a very frightening animal, red, kind of like a worm but with many legs and fast movements!), some amazing discoveries, mainly Thai food.
Then we get flabbergasted by a demonstration of traditional thai dance: is that possible to turn the hands that way?!
This month was not counted like days or hours, this month was counted as moments, pictures, discoveries and feelings.
Sawasdee krab! hello guys! we are four volunteers writing at the same time. Our names: Nacho, Mariangeles from Spain, Adrian from France and Franccescoli from Italy.
We are writing from Thailand! After one month here, we can say living here is very relax, Thai people use the term "Sabai sabai" for that expression.
Currently, we are living in our Peace village called "Kuan Niang", located in the South of Thailand in the middle of the jungle with a very kind host family, they have two little daughters and they are really amazing, they are our Thai language teachers.
Living here is amazing, now there are only four of us, but until last weekend we were 12 volunteers living together and to be divided into groups has been a little bit tough!!
We are working on a farm so far, every morning we have to pick up the liquid from the rubber trees, this liquid is used to do latex after that we have to take care about 100 pigs, we have to fed them up and clean their houses, and we are also planting our own land for having vegetables and fruit during we are here.
From next week we will start to go to the school for teaching English to Thai kids. We are looking forward to starting with the lessons.
In the weekend, in our free time, we usually go anywhere all together, two weeks ago we went to the amazing island Mook, which was amazing experience.
We hope all of you are really good in you respective peace village, we post some pictures and then you can check how is our live here!
Thank u all for reading! lot of love
Laa kon krab!!!!
… Good Morning! I am… I’m fine, thank you and you?... I… I’m fine thank you…….. You need to tell them to sit down… Oh…?! Ok. Sit down please.
This second month began with this little scene. I am no longer Maïlys, I am teacher Mali! People I admire so much as they are doing the great job of teaching which is, in my opinion, one of the most important job in the world. And this is a role I never thought I would have… Funny how life makes its own way!
Memories of childhood, when you never thought that your teacher would see you play with your pens, or hear you speak with your friends, or not see the shy ones and the troublemakers… Oh, we couldn’t be more wrong! When you are in the front, you see it all. You see it when the kids get tired, you see their interest renew by the banana song, you see the ones having trouble with the clock, and the ones getting it immediately. It is not teacher superpower, it is just a “Oh gosh, how can I explain that?” or “I don’t want to make them repeat the numbers, it’s boring, let’s find a game…”.
Yes, teaching is amazing, but can also bring lots of questions… Luckily, for this great adventure, we are two. The best teammate ever, I present you… Teacher Arisa! – Previously known as Enrica, one of the Italian volunteers on the Happy Project –.
Together, we are Castor and Pollux, Laurel and Hardy, Black Widow and Hawkeye. We are completing each other greatly, if one of us decide to improvise a song because the kindergartens get restless, the other catch it on immediately, if one is teaching, the other encourage the kids to repeat… Then, when the present teacher do not speak English, we improvise mimes acts duet to explain the exercises or the games; and, finally, when class is over, the work is not done, as we continue to work together on creating materials to teach English…
But let’s focus a bit on our audience... Aged from three to twelve years old, all of them wear the fabulous Thai smile, they are curious, eager to learn English and teach us Thai in return, which causes lots of laughs! We share games and invent new ones; some are shy, some ask lots of attention; there are those running in your arms when they see you, and those, silent, observing you with attentive eyes wondering what you will invent next. There are those coming in the break room watching you creating the next educational material and those stealing your phone to take hundreds of pictures, there are those sitting in front of you, those who grab your hands when you do a circle and then those directly sitting on your knees… And always, everywhere in the schools, you know that you will soon hear “teeeeaaaacheeeer!”. Yes, they are simply amazing. And they never get tired.
Outside of the volunteer work, there is still the beautiful Thailand, and this month, the Loy Krathong festival and the Lanna Festival (also known as Yi Peng – held in the North of Thailand), but for most of us known as the Lanterns Festival. It is said that the origin comes from an old ritual, paying respect to the water spirits. This is a beautiful festival, the moon is full, lanterns go high in the sky while little “boats” – made of banana leaves and decorated with flowers and a candlelight in the middle – are released on the river, temples are decorated, candles light up the streets and people are full of glee…
With two other volunteers (Justine and Esra), we went to Chiang Mai in order to enjoy both festivals. Our first reaction was not amazement but shock! Hundreds of tourists all over the city. Wherever we were going we heard English, French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish… speaking. After one month and a half without seeing other occidental people (outside of the volunteers) we could not believe our eyes…
But the adaptation was fast, after all, it is always a pleasure to meet new people!
During our stay in Chiang Mai, we visited some amazing places, so if you come around, here is the must see/do:
The grand canyon of Pai (of course much less big than the Grand Canyon of Arizona),
Any waterfalls on your way,
The city of Pai (rasta people places and quiet time),
The old city of Chiang Mai
The beautiful temple of Wat Doi Suthep
And others temple in and around Chiang Mai,
Do a massage at the Prison Product Shop & Massages (Rathwithee Rd); it is a place that rehabilitates women from the prison. You will do a good action and these ladies are amazing!
And if like me, one of your little girl or boy’s dreams was to meet and hug elephants, go visit an elephant sanctuary, where elephants are respected and protected. You will get to know, feed and wash them and you won’t ride them but walk alongside. This is an amazingly beautiful experience.
Oh! And don’t forget to rent a scooter to visit around!
As October, November went pretty fast, due to new discoveries about Thailand and volunteering but also about me and my abilities. Volunteering is truly an amazing experience!
VSA Thailand สมาคมจิตอาสา