Friday, July 27, 2007

Excursion to UnderWater World Pattaya

JN told me this morning that the volunteers wanted to bring some of the orphans to UWP this afternoon.

Though I had not started any work at the Orphanage, I agreed to help the volunteers and nannies in bringing the kids around. The kids enjoyed themselves very much, especially at Shark & Ray Tank. They were amazed to see those big fishes. Some of them were scared of the big fishes and wanted the volunteers or nannies to carry them (so as to protect them). Although the kids do not know me beforehand, they have not problems in coming to me...... Some of them wanted me to hold their hands; some of them wanted me to carry them to see the fishes...... And when they were about to leave UWP, one of them even ran to me and clung onto me, wanting me to carry her again before she leaves for the orphanage. They are just so adorable!

Fun session at the School for the Blind

JN (a volunteer from Denmark) told me on Wednesday that she was going to the School for the Blind in the afternoon to play games with the kids. She asked if I wanted to go along and I agreed.

The kids at the Blind School really like the session with the volunteers cos they get to sing and dance, and play ball games. Though they are blind (or some had very poor eyesights), they are not hindered by their handicap. I can see that all of them enjoyed the session and kept asking for more.

Well, I should count my blessings for being healthy.......

And oh, where is my camera? Why did I always forget to bring it along with me?

Visiting Auntie at the Home for the Aged

I'd started visiting one of the old folks from the Home for the Aged.

She's known as Auntie. She's a Burmese. I'll be her buddy every Tuesday. She's deaf on the right ear and hence, I got to shout into her left ear so that she can hear me. She was an English teacher in Bangkok and I understand that her students still visit her sometimes and even send her money.

It is Auntie's routine to want to pray at 4 designated statues in the premise of Redemptorist Centre. I took her out for a walk on her wheelchair. The volunteers were told that we should make Auntie walk for a short distance like 10 metres to the last statue. Well, she had rejected me nicely 2 times, telling me that the weather is too warm for her to walk. Oh my, in such a case, how can I still force her? Anyway, she should know that it's for her own good that she does some exercises (and not for me).

Busy, Busy...... But HAPPY :)

I had started to teach on my own this week. After one week, I feel that I'm so worn-out. The hours are nothing compared to my previous jobs but I guess it's the stress which you bring along with you when you are off class. Haiz! I think I'm making the same old mistake again. Didn't I promise myself that I should stop bringing work home? Well, maybe it's just so ME. I had to prepare for the classes, thinking on what to teach, how to teach. On top of that, I had to prepare my own assessments for my students. There are past assessments which the teachers can use but I feel that some of them needs to be improvised. And so, I had to spend time preparing my own set of assessments for my students. Other than that, I also have to prepare my own test papers..... It's like the students should have a test after each unit (which usually takes about 2 weeks to finish teaching). Given the wide differences in the standard of my students, preparing a set of test paper which is suitable for all is really a headache.

For my first class, initially, I had 10 students. However, as another class is closing down due to not enough teachers, I took in another 3 students. So, in total now I have 13 students. Unlucky number, huh? There are 2 students whom I may not be able to “rescue”, no matter how much effort I put in on them. Due to their handicap, they have serious problems speaking, not to mention understand the lesson. I can only do my best to teach them and also, hope that they can do well in their main subjects. Looking on the bright side, I feel that I might be able to “rescue” 4 of them and help them to do better.

I'm not so worried about my second class. Though they are thought to have the worse English standard in the whole school, I feel that they are "able to make it" if I put in more effort and patience with them.

Maybe “rescuing” as many students as possible shall be my goal for being a volunteer teacher here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thai Food, Anyone?

I've talked about it for so long. I wanted to learn how to cook Thai food.

YH had helped me to approach the Thai restaurant (known as J-Pen) located at the opposite of the house of Khun Pae (one of the divers). We frequently go to this restaurant for lunch or dinner (if there's any occasion like farewell or birthday). The food at this restaurant taste nice. I thought it will be a good place to learn how to cook Thai food. Unfortunately, due to my incompetency in conversing in Thai, the Thai chef is not willing to take me in as her disciple cos she can't speak English. Haiz.... I should buck up on my Thai so that I can do more things here.

Last evening, I got a chance to learn 2 Thai dishes from Khun B'en. B'en is a young Thai Chinese lady and was recently married with Khun Nop, a staff at UWP in charge of the gift shop. She has been very helpful and warm since I met her; and she speaks good English. As she's not working currently, she spends most of her time in UWP walking around, just like me. And so, we just “click” together. She had taught me some Thai and I teach her some English. And yesterday, we were talking about learning Thai food and she said she can teach me. Then the next moment, I heard the other staff talking about going over to her new house for dinner. And off we go, to her place to learn Thai food and cook dinner for some of the staff..... Emmm..... Isn't that a bit too fast? I thought we are starting the cooking class next week? Hahaha.

I'd learned 2 dishes: “Minced Pork with Basil” (known as Pad Gulp Poa Mu in Thai) and “Tomyum soup”.

Tips for dish #1:
- There are 2 types of basil leaves. The stem could be red or green in colour. To cook this dish, we need to use the one with green stem.
- More basil leaves will give better smell. So, up to you how much you want to add when frying.

Tips for dish #2:
- 3 must-have ingredient: Lemon grass, mint leaves & a kind of root…. (dunno the name but can be found in the market)
- Never cover the lid of the pot when cooking the soup. It’s said that the soup will not smell nice if we cover it.
- Never stir the soup while cooking too. Reason unknown. Just follow.
- Never squeeze the lime too much until the last drop cos the juice nearer to the skin of the lime is bitter.

Hee hee.... maybe I should start noting down all recipes and the hot tips and compile them into a cook book. Emmm.... not a bad idea.

Watch this space for more tips on cooking.....

I've started my new job....

Today is the 4th day.

For the past few days, I've been waking up at 7 o'clock in the morning to prepare to go to work. YH was still sleeping when I stepped out of our apartment. Rare sight! For the past few months, it was the other way round (i.e. me still sleeping while YH goes to work).

The Vocational School for the Disabled is where I'm teaching. The students at the school are given free education, accommodation, food and medical care. They are taught a skill so that they can contribute to the society (or rather earn a living) when they graduate from the school.

After some administrative work, I joined G at her class. G is a young & pretty lady from Denmark. She will be leaving for home next week and hence, I'll be taking over her classes upon her departure. She told me that she enjoyed her stay in Pattaya and will be back once she had saved enough money. I'll have 2 classes and each class has 10 students each. All the students come from different parts of Thailand and are of different ages. Although they are physically disabled, this does not stop them from being rowdy and cheeky. They kept asking questions like "Where you from?" (that's the local spoken English), "How old are you?", "You got boyfriend?", "Can you speak Thai?"...... And they kept saying "Teacher beautiful; Teacher lovely"...... G told me that I'll soon get used to it cos they say it everyday...... Hahaha.... Those cheeky teenage boys.

It is not difficult to spot the different levels of command of English the students have. Some of them are quite comfortable and keen in learning English while some are less enthusiastic about it. This is due to whether they had learned some basic English during their ground school. Some of them kept saying "Ang-Krit Yak" (meaning English is difficult). Emm... Just like I would say the same about learning Thai.... especially the written Thai.

Well, I actually started to teach a class this morning as G was not feeling very well today. She suggested that I could help the class to prepare for their mid-term test which is to be held next week. It's really a CHALLENGE for me to make my class interesting for all students. I noticed that the better ones are getting bored while the slower ones are still struggling their way through the class. And some of them prefer to practise speaking rather than writing. Now I know that being a good teacher is not that easy.... It makes me think of how great my teachers used to be and honestly, I inspired to be one :-)

I met 2 other Singaporeans, J and T, at the School. It's like making some discovery..... Singaporeans in Pattaya..... It's a rare find. I had an almost-an-hour chat with J, talking about living in Pattaya, volunteering stuff, getting to know more Singaporeans, etc. She has been teaching in the School last October and is now currently helping out in the Finance Department. She still teaches some classes in the afternoon. Did not get a chance to speak to T but he seems like a nice old man. Finally, the Singaporean/Malaysian network in Pattaya will get a chance to connect and expand....

Okie, it's time to crack my brains to find ways to make my classes interesting. Any suggestions?