I joined the Sustainable Community Development project for three weeks to teach English to children at the Greenway School in a rural area close to the border with Thailand. There, children from largely poor backgrounds go to the Greenway School to learn English for free from a combination of local teachers and volunteers (some of them long-term, for 3 hours a day in addition to attending general classes at their government-supported local school). In addition to learning English, the children also learn about, and work on, the maintenance of a vegetable and fruit garden.
Humbling, inspiring, heart-warming and heart-melting are just a few of the words I can think to describe my time at the Greenway School. The children’s respect and genuine love for you, the volunteer teacher, and their eagerness to learn cannot be emphasized enough; it will melt your heart away, particularly when one considers the limited resources and facilities available to them. And yet, the dedication of the local teachers is all encompassing as it is their professionalism with a curriculum tailored to each learning level and progressively taking on the best of the modern teaching practices.
Yet, it is like going back to a time, much simpler and somewhat much more humanely rich and fulfilling, where desire to learn by the children and to teach by the teacher were the main driving forces, which would conquer any obstacle or problem in the way. You, the volunteer really feel you are part of their education and contribute to the development of the program.
Overall, one cannot but be impressed and humbled by the whole experience and you will come away (with difficulty and a heavy heart because of the love and lessons those children with so very little have taught you in such a short time) inspired to take back home some of those simple “rules” and customs of teaching, so often lost or forgotten in our modern obsession for league tables and political correctness.