Considering I have just completed my first week of volunteering, I reckon it's time I update everyone on exactly where I am, and what I'm doing. I have been meaning to do it all week, but I'm living on Thai time right now, which is pretty relaxing, but is not good for my efficiency!
After I left Bangkok, I traveled up to a volunteer organization called Isara, which I found through the lonely planet guide of Thailand. What's different about Isara is that it doesn't cost money to volunteer, and you can really make a difference without having to pay thousands of dollars. The organization is completely financially transparent, and as much money donate as possible goes to supporting the programs (like teaching English) which is why we try to conserve as much power as possible (though they are getting solar panels in a few weeks).
I arrived here last Friday, and after getting very lost in Nong Khai, and being taken to a Danish bakery, I arrived, and met some awesome people. I got settled in all day, and was thrown into my first day of classes. It was only three hours of teaching - but man it was tiring. As tiring as it was, it was definitely a great experience, and I was excited for the next week.
I got settled in, met the other volunteers and hung out with them over the weekend. We checked out local temples, and the local Tesco, and everything was great. I also decided that I was going to go running every single day... I've gone once. Only twice in my life have I committed to something like that where it's lasted longer than a month... I should probably start being healthier, but oh well.
Anyways, Sunday rolled around, and at the volunteer meeting I was assigned to a bunch of classes for the next week. Let me explain a bit about how that works. Isara runs a learning centre, which we also live in upstairs in the dorm. Classes are held from 4PM to 7PM every day of the week, and it alternates between Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, Thursday. On MWF, there are just english classes for kids of all ages, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are also English classes for kids, but also for adults, as well as a computer class, and an art class.
So we teach different things to different classes, depending on if they're beginner, intermediate and advanced, and it can range from colors, to manners, to directions, to ordering in a restaurant. The kids here can speak anything from a little english, to relatively good English - enough to have a basic conversation - which is kind of amazing.
So that's what I spend my evenings doing - and after going out for noodles, deep fried ice cream and fanta, which is fantastic. But there's another aspect to the teaching here. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we head out to government schools in the classroom, and spend a few hours with the students there. I'll post a whole other article on the government schools, because there's tons of stuff that I'm sure my Brock teacher friends would be interested in - how it works, how it 'functions', etc. But let me just say for now, that it's tons of fun, sitting and reading stories, playing games, and handing out cat stamps when the kids are good, simultaneously saying "meow" as you do it.
I've gotta go prepare for tonight's lesson though, so I'll update you all later next week. After that I've got to go to Laos and get another Visa (20 minutes away not even), and after that a medical internship in Chiang Mai, which I need to get on top of for preparing - that will be this weekend. Bone up on my anatomy, and immunology, so I don't look completely incompetent when I show up.
P.S. American Beauty is a crazy good, but crazy messed up movie.