1. Go with the flow. You will often hear the phrase, “Mai pen rai” in Thailand which essentially means no worries. This has been key while planning and implementing lesson plans. The schedule has changed, my classes have changed, and I have had random meetings pop up at various times. I even had to leave school in the middle of the day to go to the airport because immigration gave me the wrong stamp for my visa and it needed to be fixed as soon as possible. It has helped to still have an outline with a lesson plan, but be ready for it to change and then probably change again. Being flexible is a strong characteristic of any teacher!
2. Having a co-teacher can be incredibly helpful. I have two Thai co-teachers between my five classes. They help me get the necessary materials for my lessons beforehand. During the lesson, they will translate any directions or information that may be confusing to the students. As I am teaching English to first graders, it comes in handy. I am thankful for my co-teachers and how much support and help they have given me already.
3. The students are inspiring. I have felt like a superstar. Any time I walk into a classroom, I hear enthusiastic tiny voices saying, “Teacher Gena”! For every moment after, the students are extremely willing to learn. They want to know more and it truly shows through their work and classroom interactions. The energy they bring to the classroom makes me excited for every class and thankful for every student I get to work with.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have been lost, multiple times. One thing about the people in Thailand is they are more than willing to help. Often people will seem to realize I might be a little out of place and offer to help me with directions, trying to order food, or get a ride. There have been times I am unsure about which bus to get on or what I am supposed to be teaching in 20 minutes, but if I ask questions and am open that I am still learning and adjusting it all works out in the end.
5. Explore. My school, Amnuayvidhya School, is located right on the outer edge of Bangkok in the province of Samut Prakan. The school sits on the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the center of Thailand. I currently have a motorbike to take me to and from school. The drive is filled with scenes of local markets, temples, and beautiful natural landscapes. It can be a little overwhelming to just walk unsure of where you are going, but it can often lead you to meet the nicest people and stumble upon some incredible places. Moving to a new place, let alone halfway around the world, is a big change but being open to whatever comes your way has set me up pretty well since arriving in Thailand!