January 2019 Newsletter
Early in the morning our first group of 15 students set out on a bus trip, with smiles on their faces and eager expectation. This group did Christmas carolling at JW Marriott Phuket before. So impressive was their singing that JW Marriott Phuket invited them for the Children’s Day. After a hotel tour, our children got an unexpected opportunity to visit a turtle sanctuary Marriott team had fostered.
The turtle sanctuary pool contained two young green turtles that were born with physical disabilities. Without this sanctuary and the tender care it provides, these fragile turtles would not have survived, and they are so cute they attract many admirers, especially children. Our children lined up around the pool and were eager to know the turtles by their names, while learning a bit of turtle history from the volunteer staff.
The next stop was the Marriott Resort’s kitchen. Here the Marriott’s chefs taught our children how to prepare soup and sticky rice with mangoes. Preparing food according to the Marriott’s standard was easy because our children had been trained by Marriott in Yaowawit-Marriott pre-vocational college partnership. However, the chefs demonstrated new techniques to fashion the dish today. Mangoes were sliced in such a way to look like crabs on plates. For the well-done job, the children each received an accomplishment certificate.
Crab-like Mango Slices
It has been a tradition for military bases across Thailand to open their bases for children on Children’s Day. Besides free cookies and other kinds of food, other attractions the children took interest in were military-themed shows. For example, trained marines jumped out of planes. Soon the bright blue sky was dotted with marines in their parachutes. The show captured the imagination of our children, some of whom wanted to be like those marines one day. Other shows were to do with rescue missions, which show children the purpose of security forces was more about protection than aggression.
The children who stayed at Yaowawit for the day also had a lot of fun. Organised into small groups, they played some fun competitive games like chairball, which was popular. For cooperative games they played an egg swapping game which was quite tricky. Imagine holding an egg on a spoon by your teeth. OK, then you must walk over to your teammate and swap your egg into their empty spoon. (You would imagine them covering in egg yolk, right? Luckily the eggs were plastic!) Another game requiring teamwork was the “on-plank-standing” game. Hold as many friends as you can on your backs while still standing on a short plank. The group that held all of the friends the longest of time won.
Our new partner Phuket PALS (Phuket Academic Language School) were welcomed with a group of 38 students visiting Yaowawit for the first time. For a two-day event, we packed in many activities, which we hope made great memories and a keen expectation to learn together again soon.
The group toured the school and the farm, soaking in the Yaowawit’s experience. Most of the Phuket PALS group were bilingual, so thanks to this harmony we were able to get right into fun activities, playing games and then outdoor classes. By the time the quizzes, reading games, bamboo roof making and lemongrass harvesting skills were all done and practised, most students knew each other by name. Later the lemongrass was processed in a tea making workshop.
Joining in with the Children’s Day, Khun Layla (a professional singer based in Dubai) swung by for the children and their music club that she had instituted. Through music and singing along with the children she touches the children’s hearts, and forms strong bonds and lasting memories.
Khun Layla also tutored members of our JamStart Music Club with Kru Kim. Over the years, Kru Kim, our music teacher, has helped many children discover and develop their music talents. Khun Layla planned to buy some new instruments to replace the worn-out ones. Then the JamStart Club members got some training and guidance from Khun Layla, whose insights from professional experience was so valuable for the children, and wonderfully motivating for them.
Government sponsored STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) workshops have been held in Bangkok for teachers throughout Thailand to help them learn how to attract and support children in learning STEM lessons. These workshops have helped Yoawawit teachers integrate English teaching into STEM classes. Kru Tak and Kru Ning (Principal and Deputy Principal) learned how to use a video conference technology called Avaya Scopia on tablets and smartphones, which is effective in helping teachers share lessons online.
Collaboration across different schools and shared experiences are a key theme of the workshops, because this helps give teachers more confidence implementing STEM education successfully in their schools. Children love learning together, and when given the chance so do teachers.
About 200 teachers from schools throughout Kapong District gathered at Ban Pak Phu School this year. A morning Buddhist monk blessing was followed by teachers’ sports competitions, which fostered much fellowship and cheer.
An evening performance event was enlivened with a dress-up. Yoawawit teachers dressed in a lively coloured 80’s fashion theme. Some teachers who had only just met that day got up on stage to perform their gigs, some did song, some did comedy. There was a lot of chatting over tables, and you can imagine a happy sort of fun riot of good-will.
Running a Scout’s camping event on the school ground—next to our new hotels and on a hill surrounded by valleys—presented not only different challenges, but also a different experience.
Throughout the event, the Scouts overcame difficult activities. The first one was erecting the tents. The next one was tracking a way back to Yaowawit from Nai Not village—about five kilometres away. Along the way, the Scouts searched for training stations, where they had to pass assignment challenges such as tying up wood frames, setting up a tent frame or a cooking frame and collecting good firewood for cooking. They also helped making cone-shaped frames for bonfire substitutes. The frames were covered with red paper and would each enclose a lamp, which would look like bonfires in the dim of evening.
The final activity they did was lying down on their backs on the ground or grass for thirty minutes or so motionless to show their endurance, and crawling along grassy paths and through a small river to prove their perseverance. Some of them also climbed up a rope ladder across a bar about five metres in height.
Muddy and wet, the Scouts marched to the theatre area for a closing ceremony.