Teacher Paul

Native Thai speakers struggle with the “sh” sound in English. “Fish” can end up rhyming with “itch” without careful coaching, which is just what Paul is providing.  


Swastika at my school    … I need your help

About a month ago, I stumbled onto the following John Oliver clip in which he illustrates the maxim “those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it”:

Hm, I wondered, is there history instruction at my school?

Today I arrived at school and as I got off my bike I saw this:  I’ve no doubt that the student with the swastika sticker has no idea what naziism is. Of course, he needs to know. 

And that leads me to a request for your help. 

I need your help to find an online video. It’ll be 3 to 5 minutes long. It’ll explain what happened in Germany during Hitler’s reign. And — here’s the catch — it’ll be either in Thai (unlikely) or be language-neutral so a Thai kid can fully grasp the details without understanding narration or screen text.

(Why all the constraints? You’ve gotta meet your audience where they are; you can’t  drag them to where they aren’t).

Tall order, I know. Please send this link to anyone you know who might be able to help with a little online research!

Hoping for the best. Please email the link to bob -at- sykora.org

Thanks in advance for your help.

My co-teachers

 Despite my high respect for their skills, I cannot wai them because they’re younger than I am. So on Uniform Day (Mondays) I salute them.

Wow! Great news!

Okay, you’re going to have to be a little patient with the backstory to fully appreciate how great this news really is. 

Paul and I met in a swimming pool 34 years ago. Since then, our main exercise has been swimming. We love the water! At various times we’ve had our Red Cross water safety instructor licenses, lifeguard training, scuba instruction. We came to Thailand and learned that the number-one killer of Thai kids is drowning …

Drowning! Kids fall into fish ponds, canals, irrigation ponds … and they drown. Few know how to swim. Most kids have no idea what a swimming pool might be. There is no swimming pool anywhere nearby.

We met with the Governot of our province and he agreed that child drowning prevention would be a great part of our service as Peace Corps volunteers.

But … how can we teach water safety with no water?

We discovered a program called Swim Safe Thailand…

But … how can we teach water safety with no water?

So we traveled to Bangkok and met with the fine people at Chulalongkorn University’s School of Public Health:

Dr. Sathirakorn Pongpanich is the Dean of the School; Dr. Ratana Somrongthong is the principal researcher who guided studies about child drowning and obtained initial funding for Swim Safe Thailand.

But … how can we teach water safety with no water?

Today we stumbled onto private land as we were exploring Nongyasai, the closest town to us, about a half hour’s bike ride away. The sign over the gate read Dharma Ranch …

Huh, we thought, looks like a park. In we went. It was park-like, but with ponds dried-up, cracked, caked mud where water should be. In ten minutes we were greeted by a smiling woman on a scooter.  In the first few minutes of conversation using our choppy Thai, she happened to mentioned that she is building a wai nam, a swimming pool.

It’s not just some dinky backyard pool:

The pool is being built by two sisters and their brother, a Buddhist monk who is in charge of all the engineering. They’re building it to help their elderly mother, who needs exercise, and as a philanthropic contribution to the community to help train kids about water safety.

There’s a kiddie pool, too, shallow and perfect to train the littlest kids:

Yep … that’s how we’ll teach water safety!

กรีน (“Green”) water

Single-use water containers are handy in a country where no tap water is drinkable. But they’re not-so-green!    

Is it just me, or does it appear that  the children are tossing their used containers on that green meadow?