The worldwide Augustana College experience

I’m a Local Celebrity!

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for- I started working at my volunteer placement!

If were not aware or have simply forgotten, my volunteer assignment was to teach English at a local public school.  There was one other person assigned to work at the school from my group- his name is Joon and he is the same age as me.  There is also a girl who has been here for 3 weeks who is working with us.  We all were dropped off at the school this morning and met first with the English teacher there.  Her name is Chawanna.  She is about 60-65 years old and she is a little Asian firecracker!  She seems to be in 10 places at once and even I had a hard time keeping up with her.  Joon went with another teacher to teach the older kids, so I followed Chawanna around for the day.  She teaches about 5 classes per day, coming in for about an hour at a time to teach English.  We had kids in 2nd-4th grade (I think), so they were 8-10 years old.  Their English is really pretty good.

When I first walked into the classroom, I was not prepared for how popular I was going to be with the kids.  You would think Barack Obama had just walked into the room.  The kids ran to their desks and sat up straight although they were bursting with excitement to meet me!  Chawanna had them stand up and say in unison, “Hello, it is nice to meet you.  Welcome to our class.  What is your name, please?”  To which I responded in my best English, “My name is Katrina!”  I wrote it on the board and they copied it diligently into their notebooks.  She then instructed them to ask where I was from and they recited, “Where are you from, please?”  but they weren’t surprised to hear me say “I am from America!”  Chawanna carried on with the normal lesson, checking homework and working on assignments.   She would have me pronounce the English words that the kids were learning so that they could hear what the words sounded like from a native speaker.  I could really tell that even just my presence in the room was a huge motivator for these kids to learn English.  Every time I walked by they wanted to touch me, or have me check their work to see if it was correct.  They were elated to hear me say “Good job” or “perfect!”

I ate lunch in Chawanna’s office with the other volunteers.  The kids were constantly peeking in the door to get a look at us.  When we would pass by them in the hallway, they would stop and bow to us, saying, “Good morning!”  It really was like having a little paparazzi!  Chawanna asked if I liked to sing songs.  I told her that I loved to sing and was armed with about 100 songs that I could bust out whenever she wanted.  She asked if I would like to teach a song to her afternoon class and I agreed.

The afternoon class was a little younger, so I decided to teach them the Penguin Song which is a short, simple camp song in which you get to act like a penguin.  First, Chawanna had me right the words on the board and the kids all copied them down into their notebooks.  Then, she explained the meaning of the words to them.  I then taught them the song, camp style.  They caught on pretty quickly although it was nowhere close to perfect.  Although the words were a little difficult, they loooved the actions and wanted to sing it over and over again.  Then we went outside and sang the song 2 more times on the playground.  Needless to say, I was a little penguined-out by the end but it was so cute to see them trying to pronounce the words!

Although it was sad to leave the kids, I am glad I get to see them tomorrow.  Almost all of the schools in Bangkok are shutting down for a few days because of the swine flu (H1N1), but luckily my school hasn’t gotten canceled yet.

Tonight we ventured out to Chinatown and another night market, which was really fun.  I’m getting better at bargaining, but I have a feeling that my blonde hair and obvious American-ness are causing me to get ripped off.  No complaints, however, because the stuff is still really cheap.

And one more thing, I had this really amazing salmon with Japanese teriyaki sauce for dinner.  MMMM!

Good night!


16 Responses to “I’m a Local Celebrity!”

  1. Katrina, I am glad you finally got to start teaching. It was a great blog entry. Can you send us a picture of your class and Chawanna?

  2. I love reading your story every day. I hope you are able to print these out and keep them as your journal, because they are awesome.

    We are starting to pack for the big weekend (we will MISS YOU IMMENSELY though!!!) I agree with Kaj, pictures would be great!!

  3. I’m disappointed that you didn’t teach your students the moose song.

  4. “First, Chawanna had me RIGHT the words on the board and the kids all copied them down into their notebooks.”

    well at least they didn’t have you wrong on the board

  5. Even though the kids loved you, I am sure you have a group of angry parents who heard nothing but the penguin song since the moment their children arrived home from school. 🙂

  6. Katrina, this is so exciting! Teaching is so cool, because you can witness when people make the connections with somethign new … hope it continues to go well.

  7. Thanks for giving us an idea of what it’s like. Are the kids teaching you any language in return? What Thai for “penguin?”

  8. Wow! It sounds like you’re having an AWESOME time. I can just picture all of these adorable kids going crazy over you. However, the pictures in my head probably are not very accurate, so I must see all of the pictures you have taken/will take when you get back!

  9. Hey Sunshine sounds like you are having an amazing time over there! Camp is going ok now that me and pinkerton have taken over!!!!! lol Pinkerton now has a pet snake in the pool!
    We all miss you! O hana bi’s cits are fun, and o hana bi wants an email back!!!
    Lol there are now lots of little Thai children running around doing the penguin song!
    Bye for now,
    Kiwi and Pinkerton xo

  10. Greetings from Camp!!
    SUNSHINE!!!!!!! We miss your presence at camp SOOOOO much!!! but it’s lovely to hear about the lil’ children over there. We loved to hear that you still are singing songs even though you are not at camp!! It was definitely weird not having you at the opening campfire for this session :/ we miss you!!!

    Write more soon!!

    Oatmeal and Bubbles

  11. It’s sooo great being able to read about all your adventures. I laughed when I read that you taught them the Penquin Song. Now it’s stuck in my head. We miss you sooo much here at camp…but you’re having the time of your life. If you talk with Genie or Natalie tell them Speedy says hi. Take care…have fun…and teach those kids more camp songs!!!!

    Miss you!!


  12. Trini, this sounds so cute! 🙂 I’m so glad that you’re having a good time! Just remember that we don’t have a lot of room in our apartment for a bunch of cute little Asian children…as fun and adorable as that would be. I miss you a lot and hope that you’re enjoying every moment of your adventure!

    Love, Ana

  13. Katrina, that sounds like the perfect first day of work that anyone could ever ask for.

  14. Katrina!

    It sounds like you’re having so much fun! And yay for salmon!!!

    Miss you!

  15. Katrina,

    Little miss popular! I disagree with Ana; I think you could fit plenty of little Thai kids in that spacious swanson apt next year. 🙂 I’m glad you are having a good time. Please, stay safe so you can come back and cook us some awesome pad thai. 😉

  16. Hi Katrina!

    It was so nice to read your blog, as I was reading adventure stories, like Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s travel” :-). I think your first day at Thai school will be unforgettable not only for you and for kids. It was amazing you decided to start from teaching them camp songs!:-) I remember my first class with native speaker from England who taught us English at primary school and I was so exsited that day, and guess we tried to do the same things as those children. hahaha…

    Your post helps me so much, as on Monday I’ll start to teach English two lovely kids from Korea and I was a bit nervous, I haven’t already taught English for last 2 years. But now, after reading your note here, I’m enthusiastic and inspired.

    Now keep continuing my reading of your posts…:-)

    Take care,

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