During the recent Elephant Story elephant polo tournament, we had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Khun Natalie, the new English teacher in the Chang Boon Wittaya and Baan Ta Klang schools in Surin province which are supported by The Elephant Story. We also had the special treat of having the force of the Learning Link, Kru Oh, with us. Kru Oh has been directly responsible for the creation, recruitment and design of our English language program in the primary and secondary Thai schools in this remote village which is home to 200 elephants.
Some time back, Kru Oh sent me a video of Khun Natalie interviewing for the teaching position. Although she was born in Thailand in 1993, she immigrated to Australia at age eight. We will wrap us this blog with the video so you can close your eyes and envision a lovely Australian lady speaking. In any event, Kru Oh asked if I had any problem with a native Thai being the English teacher and my response was that it would be inspirational to the students. You should know that although Khun Natalie, whose Thai name is Panatsaya Puntavee, speaks a few words of Thai, everyone has been instructed to speak only in English to her.
We arrived at the Chang Boon Wittaya school to immediately be met by the headmasters of the primary and secondary schools who are on either side of the line-up. Kru Oh is next to me and Khun Natalie is next to Joey.
Over the course of the next three days, we had the opportunity to personally visit Khun Natalie with her students. First of all, her infectious enthusiasm resonates with the young primary school students.
Okay, whereas we had smiles from the girls, we had open grins from the boys. Young boys may be a bit more free spirited. In actual fact, we are experiencing more open communications with the primary students than the secondary ones which is why we must start soon in their lives.
Natalie's classrooms may be a bit basic but we have to remember we are in a remote elephant village. In fact, how many schools do you know that have elephant images on the meeting hall walls?
If you ever want to feel good about making merit, go see the results it can have on young children. In fact, Khun Natalie's motivation to teach English in a remote Thai village was to give back something to the country of her birth. However, if you just listen to her accent in the video below you would never imagine she was from Thailand. It is all very special on many different fronts.