As part of this program we are also giving our younger students the chance to practice English by staying with Pat and myself in the weekends. This gives them the chance to practice daily conversation out of the classroom in an informal setting.
Janjira is a 13 year old who is of the Lawa hilltribe. The first time I met her was on my last trip to Thailand, we took a visit to her school where her English teacher was giving us a guided tour of her school. He summoned his star pupil to come and say ‘hi’ with us. Her smile and cute ‘nice to meet you’ left an impression on me, in just those few seconds of meeting her I definitely felt that there was something special about her and that she had potential.
Janjira has an extreme appetite for English. She is staying with us for 4 days and in her 4 days with us she has never wanted to leave my side or stop talking to me! Bless her, she’s my new puppy dog, she will only eat when I eat, and only sleep when I sleep. I’m sure if she carries on at this rate she’ll be fluent in no time. This is also a good way for me to learn Thai, as we can exchange sentences and words.
It’s amazing how much you can learn from a 13 year old. It’s fascinating to learn about her daily life. Today she told me “my family is poor but we must be good people. My father say to me because we are poor we must be good, because if we are poor and bad people, that is very bad for our life and our next life”. By this I think that she meant that she should never feel ashamed of being poor, and that society views poor people that are bad as even worse than rich people that are bad.
I asked her what time she normally wakes up and she said “normally about 4 or 5”. I remarked at how early this was and she said “yes……because I have to make the rice because my parents go to work very early”. When she says ‘make’ the rice she doesn’t mean to just wash it and stick in the rice cooker as we would do. She means to take the rice husk out by using her feet and a wooden rice pounder (see pic) which is really hard work, then wash and boil it.
She also told me how on some days she doesn’t go to school because she has to help her parents on the farm.