A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue

There are two weeks to go before the end of term; I have been dreading the approach of October for some time now. My friends would laugh and say that is because it my 50th birthday and remind me in their eyes at least that I’m getting old. Well OK, there might be a bit of truth in that but the real reason is that I will be boarding an air plane and heading back to London after 6 wonderful months teaching here at the Mahathai school in Pattaya.

Terry - Volunteer from EnglandIts seems an age ago since I first stumbled across the Fr. Ray Foundation web page. I was not actually looking to come to Pattaya or Volunteer, I was looking to do some travelling around Asia for a few months or as long as the money would hold out. I had started my own business a few years ago which was doing fine but the constant long hours and stress was beginning to get me down and so I would often dream of laying on a sandy beach under a palm tree and just relaxing. I planned my trip in my head but never actually decided to do anything until I saw the Fr- Ray site.
It stuck me at once that here was a chance for me to get away from it all and at the same time do some good. The more I looked into it and the more information I received the more determined I was to come here. My first thought were a working holiday I planned to spend a week in Chiang Mai before the term started but sadly lost my bank cards in Bangkok so had to delay the trip so I now plan to go there after term for a week before heading off home . While here I have visited Cambodia as well as the local island Ko Larn, just a 30 minute ferry ride from here and also planning to go to Ko Chang this weekend as I have the weekend off.

I was very nervous on my first day; I had no teaching experience before and would not consider myself very academic. I told Derek, the Volunteer Co-ordinator, this on my application but thankfully was still accepted.

Everyone at the school was extremely friendly and welcoming, actually that could also be said of all the Thais I have met too. I came to the school a few days before the term started and was given a tour and introduced to everyone, given my term books and timetable and a few words of advice and then lead to the slaughter. No seriously, I was told just to get to know the students for the first few lessons introduce myself and tell them about me and then find out more about them.
The students here are fantastic and have been an inspiration to me, always smiling and cheerful, very very polite and a joy to be with. They want to learn and have huge respect for their teachers especially owing the fact that like me a lot of volunteers have given up well paid work to come here and help. I am often told “Jai Dee Jai Dee “(Kind heart). Even walking down the street or taking the student to the beach passers by will stop and tell you this. I feel I was lucky to get my class because we have really bonded and get on very well, but then all the other Volunteers say the same about their class. I have been teaching Business English and a Speaking and Listening programme to 3rd term students every morning Monday to Friday.

On Monday afternoons after lunch I go to the Drop-In Center for Street Kids and help out there for a couple of hours, the activities range from playing football, helping with their English or just playing games to keep them occupied. Some of these kids have had a hard time in the past and some just need a hug and a friendly face but some are also very keen to learn, there are so many characters here, some are cheeky little sods and some are like little angels but all are very welcoming, when we arrive they rush up and throw themselves at you like your a long lost friend. It’s very rewarding.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons I teach at the School for the Blind, this offers new challenges and is equally rewarding. Some days, weather permitting we will take the students to the nearby beach, something they love to do, the younger student get really excited and never want to get out of the water, again the students here are amazing people. Friday afternoons for me are free time. Most Saturday afternoons we visit the Children’s Home or more recently the new Fr. Ray Village for a few hours and just hang out with the kids or organize games. Its good fun.

In short I have met some wonderful people here, the students, the teachers and the volunteers who come from all walks of life have been great, we are different ages and from different backgrounds but all blend in together and help each other. We have had some great times together; it’s been fun, real fun. I’ll miss this place, the school, this life style, my new found mates but most of all the students. This is without doubt, apart from becoming a father the most rewarding and satisfying thing I have experienced. I know there will be tears in my eyes when its time to say goodbye.
In my mind I’m already planning to come back next year. To increase my chances I’m praying to Jesus and Lord Buddha.

PS: don’t forget your camera.

Terry – England

Volunteered from April 2008 – October 2008

Categories: Volunteer's Stories