Welcome to Khaenakhonwitthayalai School! I have been here for eight weeks which means I can spell the school name about 50% of the time and pronounce it about 75% of the time. Progress! We are a public high school (grade 7-12) in Khon Kaen, Thailand. Khon Kaen is in the Isaan region of Thailand which has a unique dialect of Thai and type of cuisine.
The school is made up of about 4,000 students and 250 teachers. The campus is huge, which is a blessing when it comes to forcing me to use Thai to ask for directions and also a curse when I am half-asleep making the long trek to scan in each morning.
I would equate KNW’s campus to a small college campus in America. The campus is always busy with students sprawled out practicing their instrument or sport on the different fields, gardens, and common areas. I love to walk around and see the different projects the students are working on or watch them practice their synchronized cheer for sports day. It is unbelievable.
Being a foreigner in Thailand you definitely get some extra attention and this is no different at school. I am always prepared to be a part of a selfie or respond to an excited "good morning teacher!!!!". Being a novelty, makes you feel special which is helpful in such a large place that is so different from home. It also comes with people always offering you food which is not a bad perk!
My class size is unusually small for Thailand. I am one of two teachers for the inaugural class of International Program students. My class consists of two very sweet, silly, and hardworking 7th graders. I co-teach social studies, computers, PE, music, art, and English with my best friend who I came to Thailand with. Seperately, I teach science and she teaches math. Our students also take Thai with a Thai teacher and Chinese with a chinese teacher. This sounds like a large amount of work but we are given more than enough planning time each day to plan our lessons and reflect on student's performance and understanding.
KNW has two school canteens for students and teachers to purchase breakfast and lunch. There are over 60 stalls with a huge variety of food for a great low price. I usually buy fresh fruit for breakfast and some sort of noodle or rice dish for lunch. There is also a convenience store on campus. Thai students love their snacks and visit the convenience store whenever they have free time. My students enjoy making me try Thai snacks but I draw the line at Hot Chili Squid Lays.
There is a lot of KNW school pride. It seems we are always celebrating the opening of a new building or an award or competition won. Thai teachers love their jobs and Thai students seem to love school, which makes the campus a really exciting and enjoyable place to be. I really love being a teacher at Kaennakhonwitthayalai and not just on the days where there’s a chinese dragon parade and free food, but those are pretty fun.