Like Rolf Potts, the writer who inspired Alex to teach abroad, Alex comes from a family of teachers. He has been in Thailand since April of this year and teaches M3 and M5 students in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Read on to learn about what Prachaup is like and some of his favorite memories.
Q. Can you share with us how the placement process worked for you?
The placement process was not as daunting as my TESOL group originally anticipated at the start of our program. You can give your preferences for community size, age group of students you would prefer teaching, geographic locale, etc., but the coordinators with XploreAsia will also take into into consideration where you will likely be a good fit and where you can maximize your potential. I will say that everyone in my group was pretty satisfied with their placements and at this point we are all doing very well in our communities. You will be given details a little bit at a time. I knew my location, school, and age group I would be teaching around the third week of the course. Some logistical information and even school start date for the beginning of the semester came later on.
Q. What should we know about Prachuap?
My placement community is quite picturesque! I live in Prachuap Khiri Khan, which is a real jewel of a town that is on the beach. It’s the provincial capital and has a population of about 30,000 people, so not too big and not too small. Geographically it is about 3-4 hours south of Bangkok on the Malay peninsula. The town also rests about eight miles from the border of Myanmar (Burma) and sits on the narrowest point of Thailand if you’re looking at a map. Prachuap is home to three beautiful bays, the Thai Air Force base, lush, rolling hills and steep limestone mountains in the bays. There are hardly any foreigners in my town, so I do get stared at often. The people here are friendly, curious and are quick to flash a smile as I walk or bike past. We have phenomenal seafood here that is locally sourced, and most of Thailand’s pineapples come from around Prachuap, so you can imagine how tasty they are! As far as getting from place to place, I get around easily on a bicycle. I’m just too uncoordinated for a motorbike.
Q. Favorite memories from your time so far?
I am at the point now where I am completely settled in and working, living and thriving in my community. I teach Mathayom 3 and 5 students primarily, which is the equivalent of freshmen and juniors in high school. The students are great, but it’s not without challenges. Most of the time the classes run smoothly, but sometimes you have to improvise, because teenagers are either bored or they won’t sit still! I love being their teacher though and hearing their English improve is such a reward. Last week in one of my M5 classes, one of my students at the front pointed to a girl across from him and shouted at me, “teacher! It’s her birthday!”, we all immediately jumped into a loud, clapping and stomping happy birthday song. She was so happy she started to cry! My jaws hurt from smiling after that class. You can’t put a price on moments like that. One pleasant surprise I must include has been the friendships that I have developed with the Thai teachers at school. A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a few of them after school and we all sat, talked, and ordered plate after plate of delicious Thai food until about 11 o’clock on a Monday night! Teaching in this community is truly a blessing.