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01869 338890

Being a 'Farang' in Thailand

My name is James Colclough and I went to teach in Thailand over the summer of 2010, which was one of the greatest choices I have ever made. I always wanted to do some volunteering and chose to go to Thailand because I had heard lots of great things about Asia and really wanted to experience a true feeling of it instead of just being a tourist and travelling whilst surrounded by lots of other tourists.

James Colclough teaching in Thailand

Northern Thailand was the one true place that I got to really experience Thailand and all that it has to offer. Whilst there we were welcomed with open arms and were able to immerse ourselves in the community, which is richer and more vibrant than anything I have experienced in my travels before hand. All of the Thai people were so friendly and more than happy to show you how they live, which for some families was a real eye opener.


Before we were let loose on classes of Thai kids the Maekong river resort guys taught us rudimentary Thai, about their culture and also a couple of really easy Thai dishes that we cooked nightly.  Whilst in the school all of the teachers, locals and especially the children were delighted, and quite often inquisitive, to have a "farang" (foreigner) visiting them and teaching them English, which in the north of Thailand is quite a rare skill.


The school day started with the flag raise, national anthem and prayer and 8:30am, in which the James Colclough and fellow AV volunteer at a school event in Thailandkids all lined up and said good morning to the class above and below and finally to the teachers. In the day we taught, in pairs, two 1 hour long lessons a day to children aged from 5-11 years old, after which had a quite grand sit down lunch with all the students and teachers. Most afternoons were spent taking an hour long sports class, which was much anticipated by the kids, in particular trying to teach the great English game of rounders! After you finished for the day your time was your own. Whilst in the school we were able to teach the children a good basic standard of English as well as learning a lot of their language and culture from both teachers and children, we even ran a couple of lessons for the teachers so that they would be able to keep up our efforts after we had left.


In our own time we were able to do what ever took our fancy, from cycling or runs, visiting local hill villages or Buddha statues, to relaxing in the amazing Maekong River resort complex to taking the 3 hour bus journey to Chiang Mai, the near big city. Whilst out there I liked to be a bit more active than the girls and managed to find loads of great, quite remote, beauty spots that you never would be able to find if you were just travelling. I stumbled upon a couple of village tribes that were some of the friendliest people I have ever met and created a bit of a stir when the foreigner came into the village on a bike looking pretty hot and sweaty. Most evenings I played football with the local teenagers and giving my amazing lack of football talent was great fun and apparently hilarious for them. I also had my 19th birthday out there which was the greatest birthday I have ever had, with cake from the school and then going down to Chiang Mai for a couple of nights of quite western style entertainment.


From going to Thailand I have gain many great friends, both Thai and English, and even stayed with our Thai friend Chon to be the second foreigner his family and local village have ever seen. I also gained a great perspective about how happy these people were, all of the time, even without our western comforts; and how great their sense of community and family played on their every day life. When leaving you really feel like you have helped both the children and the school to gain skills and experiences that they never would have had the opportunity to enjoy without your help, as well as looking great on the CV and doing something that's a bit different than the standard gap year experience.


James Colclough's placement was arranged with Africa & Asia Venture (AV)

Africa & Asia Venture are offering a 5 week teaching only project in Thailand - unique for Summer 2011



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Thanks for wriitng such an easy-to-understand article on this topic.
Comment made: Tuesday 28th June 2011

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