Xavier College past pupil makes a difference in Thailand

Erin in Thailand

Recently Xavier College farewelled the graduating class of 2010. It is a time to contemplate what these young men and women will do when they leave school and what sort of adults they will become. It is reassuring when you hear uplifting stories about the work that recent graduates are doing. The story below is from Erin McAuley (Yr 12, 2009).

“When I told my great grandmother that I was going to Thailand she turned to me, horrified, and told me she would pray that I couldn’t go because she didn’t want me killed.

Erin in ThailandThankfully, God was preoccupied that afternoon and I have spent the past five weeks not fighting off murderers and rabid, disease-ridden soi dogs, but teaching English to monks, drinking Oreo shakes and eating banana pancakes.

I have been teaching at two different temples. Everyday at 12 o’clock, Lisa and I are picked up and taken to Wat Pratad Wittaya. On our busiest day we teach for four hours and on the quietest two. The van back to Nongkhai picks us up at five thirty, so we usually have time to plan lessons while we are waiting. We can also use the internet at school when there is a computer free, and there is no shortage of people wanting to chat, from the headmaster to students from the nearby high school.

It has been amazing getting to know the kids. I will never be able to memorize fifty different names when they all sound like the same single syllable, but I know which kid does the awesome animal impressions and which one is going to laugh every time I break the chalk. Then there is the smallest child, who used to shake when I spoke to him but now he never stops smiling at me.

In the evening four nights a week all the volunteers in Nongkhai teach for an hour at Wat Sri Sumang. This is an optional English lesson, so the level of English of the monks who come is quite good. I have been teaching the advanced group, who are all students studying to be teachers at the Buddhist University. It might be an exaggeration to call them geniuses, but they’re pretty close.

On the weekends we are free to travel around Thailand and Laos, but so far I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away from Nongkhai. I feel more content than I could have hoped and I am surrounded by beautiful, kind people and delicious food.

As a strong contender for the title of world’s most sensitive person, a culture where raised voices are avoided and women will leave their noodle shop to show you where the forks are kept sits well with me. The staff at Travel-to-Teach are terrific. I’ve tested out the twenty four hour support and can confirm that someone will be on hand to help you at ten o’clock on a Friday night if the need arises, or will accompany you to the hospital.”



Source: Xavier College