Peace Corps Teaching in Thailand

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 10:10 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Teaching in Thailand

Peace Corps Teaching in Thailand

"I had always thought about teaching English overseas," says Benjamin Malcolm, Bates graduate-turned Peace Corps volunteer. Experience gained teaching in local adult education programs and high schools led to his eventual acceptance into the Peace Corps and a teaching assignment in Thailand. After three months of training in various areas of the country, he was assigned to a small school in a rural setting, surrounded by rice fields, rubber tree farms, and forest. "The first few months are all about getting used to the site, and trying to figure out relationships, methods of doing things, and setting up your living area. Once you get more comfortable with language, things start to flow a little more smoothly as you figure names and places out, and ways of getting around. The most unique thing about being a Peace Corps volunteer, claims Malcolm, is that you are usually in the middle of the countryside, in the heart of the country, doing what you are doing. "A Peace Corps assignment really gives you the key language training and the rare chance to get deeply in touch with a culture, by working out in the middle of places that tourists rarely see."

With so many different asssignments even within the same country that a handful of volunteers can have completely different experiences, the Peace Corps has become much more than the cliched images usually associated with it, explains Malcolm. "The concept of living in a grass hut in the middle of the grasslands or jungle is definitely way past its prime. In Eastern Europe, for example, there is [a need] for Business/English teachers, so the Peace Corps had to tailor its program for that area, while other regions are looking for help in water management or agriculture." In Thailand, Malcolm had some, but not all of the amenities he was used to in America. "I still had to take a bath by dumping buckets of water over my head," he says, "and the electricity disappeared for long stretches. My house flooded several times, and my worst sickness was... effectively... a month-long fever. You learn to deal with adversity in the Peace Corps."

Malcolm remarks that seeing the positive things he accomplished with his students, and getting to know their families, made saying goodbye at the end of his two years very emotional. "Joining Peace Corps is a dificult transition, but leaving Peace Corps is as difficult if not more," he states. Malcolm believes public service or activism in community events or affairs, an interest in foreign affairs or international events, and a demonstrated willingness to take risks or show leadership are good drawing cards for any person interested in applying for the Peace Corps. To those people who make it, he advises one thing above all: "Expect the unexpected."

by Sam McDaniel '98

By Amber Carr ( on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 3:42 pm: Edit Post

Hello, my name is Amber Carr. I'm a senior in high school and hope to become a teacher and eventually teach in the peace corps. I was hoping that you could e-mail me some more information on your own personal experience. This would help me a lot. Thank you!

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