Amazing and Life Changing, the first words I think of when somebody asks me about the Thai Immersion Trip of 2014. I can proudly say that the two weeks spent in Thailand with six of my classmates along with Mr Vidot and Ms Nash, was the best experience of my life. The experience has taught me an array of great values along the way including the importance of education. It was more than just a holiday or a chance to travel to another country, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience life in a whole new environment and perspective. I fell in love with Thailand and everyone I met there. The trip can be summarised in three main highlights: the students at Dan Nok Serithamwittaya School; the culture; and the aftermath of the experience.
One of the aspects that had a huge impact on me were the students including my class and others. At the beginning of the English Teaching Project, the students were not participating so much and the whole day was awkward. My allocated partner, Reina, and I would constantly ask each other what we should do next. Eventually however, after playing games with the students, our relationship developed and we grew so close that they seemed like family to me, whom I never wanted to leave. The other students influenced my perspective on life greatly as well. Every day at school with them was a blessing and every morning I would gladly wake up early, looking forward to seeing them. As soon as I walked into the school, some of the older female students in Year 8 would kindly invite me into their classroom to do my hair. During lunch breaks, when I walked out of the staffroom, I would look down to see several younger female students holding my hands and giggling.
An example of an inspirational moment was a student named, Farm. He was one of the top students in Year 8 that I would always look up to, even though he was younger, he moved me throughout the whole trip. An Australian boy at his age would spend hours gaming, yet he would rather spend hours studying. Only having his grandmother, he still has the motivation to study and achieve his dream of going into engineering. When we asked him whether he wanted to play sport or study, he automatically said: study. This was a real eye-opener to how important education is and how we should appreciate our fortunate situation. It is a rope that carries us to greatness.
The second highlight of the immersion tour was the culture, including food, clothing, etiquette and religious background. During this experience, I’ve realised that the people of Thailand are the most polite people I have ever met in my whole life. Everything they do, they do with utmost respect while always smiling hence why Thailand is often referred to as the “Land of Smiles”. It is hard not to fall in love with their shrines and temples such as the Wat Ban Rai – The Elephant Temple, handmade out of more than 20 million pieces of mosaic. With stunning artworks portraying Buddhist teachings and amazing views of Thailand, it continuously took away my worries about the trip and always put me to ease.
The final highlight was the ending and aftermath. On the last day at the school, we stayed up until 2am that previous night making letters for each student with lollies as they were of great importance to us. Teachers, such as Su, would be with us every day eventually they were a sisterly figure to us. Countless tears were shed during the farewell, numerous amounts of handmade goodbye and I love you cards were received and a hundred photos taken.
Time has past and we still share a strong connection with the people we met during our amazing experience in Thailand. Dozens of student still keep connected via the internet and almost every day video calls are made, which are full of “I miss you” and “I love you”. Overall, they are inspiring. They had a major impact on me and who I am. After I met them, I suddenly have the motivation to do more and go beyond. They were always loving and nice and they've influenced me to be that way, to love those around you. Their dedication to school has motivated me to appreciate school and the opportunity of having an education. Over the two weeks of falling in love with Thailand, I have also created a tight bond with my six classmates who share this special memory with me as well as acknowledging the support we all have for each other. I am so thankful for having this great opportunity to be a part of the 2014 English Teaching Program in Thailand and to meet the amazing students who have taught me so much. I could not have asked for a better experience and I will never forget those two weeks.
We went to Thailand to teach the students, but in the end they taught us.