“Greetings from the Community Learning Centre (CLC)! My name is Hkawn Mai, and I am one of the Mekong Youth Net youth leaders and an English teacher at the CLC, teaching basic English to children. For those of you who are not familiar with the CLC, the project is about empowering and strengthening the local community members around DEPDC/GMS (mostly from ethnic minorities) by providing them with more learning opportunities and therefore better prospects of getting a job in their locality.
“We hope that through the classes at CLC, the students can gain self-confidence and self-sufficiency by improving their language skills, learning new vocational skills and taking charge of their education. The target groups at the CLC are truly diverse – they can be children and adults ranging from 10 to 55 years old, from any ethnic minority, including Tai Lue, Tai Yai, Akha or Burmese migrants, and there are housewives or even novice monks from nearby temples among our students! Because people from all over the community come to study here, the CLC is also a convenient and strategic place for us to put on awareness raising programs about very important subjects like human trafficking and child rights. This quarter, we continue to offer languages classes in Thai and English, computer classes and vocational workshops. Currently, we have two Thai classes (basic and intermediate) and two English classes (basic and conversational). They take place every weekday from 6 to 8 pm in the evening so that even people who work during the day can come at night to study with us.
“Like I mentioned before, I teach basic English to many at-risk children in the community. Many of them have never learned English before, but they are all very excited and curious about this strange-sounding but very popular language! I teach for 2 hours every evening, and I like to cover the very basics like the alphabet, greetings and simple vocabulary like fruits and days of the week. Children learn to express themselves by talking about their families, favorite colors and sports, their hobbies and many other things during the lessons. Of course, because they are children with lots of energy, they can’t just sit and listen for more than a few minutes at a time! So we also do a lot of dancing, games and singing that will help them get comfortable to speak and understand English words – you would be amazed by just how many songs by Michael Jackson our eager students can belt out a cappella! Overall, I think that the class is going well and the kids are enjoying their lessons. Like in any other classrooms, there are challenges in teaching – some of the students are shy and don’t participate much while others are a bit overexcited at times. Because the children come from poor families and can have some complicated backgrounds, absences from classes are always a concern. As teachers, we try to be involved and talk to those students to get a better understanding of what is going on with their situations. We want to build trust and a positive rapport with them, so that if the students need help or protection, they will feel that they can come to us.
“For me, it has been a very busy time teaching the CLC – the kids sure are active and their minds curious – but also a very rewarding one as well. It is nice to know that I can give back to the community I live in, and that I get to build relationship with so many wonderful children. I hope this post gives you some idea about what we do at the CLC, and I’ll be sure to write again to keep you posted about the children’s progress!”
Thank you, Hkawn Mai, for all your hard work at DEPDC/GMS!