Saturday, August 27, 2016

School in Thailand, 1970s

From my wife’s writings about her grade school in Thailand:

School in Thailand by Thiphawan Suphannaphoowong Gault-Williams

When I was seven years old I went to an elementary school named Navangvean. It was in the countryside in northeast Thailand.

First of all, I had to walk to school. I walked to school with my brother and some of my friends in my village. One reason I walked is because my parents could not afford to buy a bike for everyone. In my family I had five brothers and one sister. That's why my parents did not have enough money to buy a bicycle for everyone. I had to walk about thirty minutes one way, or sometimes it took longer if we played a game. It was fun for me because I always laughed and ran away when we played a game. Sometimes it was raining. We would use a banana leaf to cover ourselves up.

The class was small because there were only twenty or twenty-five students [in the entire school]. I had different teachers each year. My favorite teacher was my first grade teacher. His name was Thi. He always made students laugh. For example, when he came into class he always asked us, "Do you want to have chicken soup?" We always said, "Yes". Then he said, "I will kill a chicken now." The way he [pretended to] kill the chicken was to turn around his hands on the chicken's neck. He turned his hands in a circle. He said, "The chicken is dead now." A little while later he took his hands away from the chicken's neck and made a chicken noise, “Eeg eeg eeg." We were laughing all class.

(image of Thip’s classroom taken three decades later)

I had to take lunch to school. My mom always prepared my lunch pack for me. I always looked forward to my lunchtime because I enjoyed my lunch and shared with my friends. We took lunch outdoors and then after lunch we played a game. I usually ran and laughed. For example, the game we played was to run to touch another person. I had to run away to not be touched because if someone touched me then I would have to run to touch another person. I ran very slowly and it took me a long time to get one of them.

My parents had to buy books for me. My favorite subject was reading. The book I liked was a story about children who liked to help and share. For example, Manee, Mana, and Peti were my favorite children in the story. They were friends and tried to help friends at school, or help family at home. They were always looking to help people. First of all, when they were at school if they saw some friends get hurt or fight each other, they always told the teacher to help out. When they came home from school they helped their grandfather water the plants. When they had some candy or fruit they always shared with their friends.

At the end, the things I did not like from school was homework because I had to finish it myself before I went to play and run with my friends. That was the rule from my parents. No matter if I had something else I wanted to do. I still had fun at school.

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