So we have just come to the end of our first three days teaching here in Myanmar, and it has been an amazing experience already.
We are staying in a house which is owned by our host Thane, along with two Myanmar girls in their early twenties who are studying to be teachers, Jasmine and Celia. Aside from Jasmine’s love of Justin Beiber they make perfect housemates. The girls along with a whole troop of Thane’s other pupils and children are looking after us like royalty, their hospitality is incredible.
We have two small classrooms in the house where we give our daily lessons, with me taking all 20 students in the morning, before we spilt them into ability groups for the afternoon and Laura leads an advanced lesson for those with greater ability. We don’t have chalk or white boards as it seems they just cannot be acquired here, so the duct tape from my backpack along with scrap paper is getting a lot of use. The facilities are very basic but we are improvising and getting by fine.
Our students, like everyone we have met in Myanmar so far, are some of the nicest and most considerate people we’ve ever met. They are pretty much the complete opposite of the students we have taught in Africa. They are punctual, beyond polite, interested and highly motivated. If all students were like this I’d probably take up teaching full time. Every day they make me laugh and I feel privileged to be able to help them. We’ve got a mix of Myanmar, Mon and Karen in the class, and I’ve pretty much got all the names remembered, except for a few of the Karen students whose names are not exactly easy to pronounce!
As Laura mentioned in her last post I’ve been loving the food here a little more than her, but I have finally encountered the one ingredient that Myanmar loves and I do not. Fish paste. Every day we’ve been treated to traditional breakfasts and lunches delivered right to our door, and I’ve discovered some tasty dishes which I’ll be writing a full blog about at a later point.
Our evenings have mostly been spent lesson planning and sitting in the local photocopy shack waiting for our copies, though we’ve also wandered the town, sampled some Myanmar lager and visited one of the hilltop pagodas. We have the next couple of days off and will be exploring the town markets, visiting some Buddhist monasteries with Thane, and then heading a few hours out of town into the Karen zone to visit an area that apparently no tourists have been to. The advantage of having such a knowledgeable host is really opening up the country for us and I can’t wait to see what is ahead.