Monday, 18 July 2011

Thinking Classroom Foundation, Chiang Mai

Today, we visited our dear friend, Dr Thein Lwin at his Migrant Learning Centre in Chiang Mai. 
Dr Thein Lwin is a very radical and powerful educator who has led the way in Critical Thiinking for Burmese teachers and schools.  His experience and research have led him to develop Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking and he trains Burmese teachers on both sides of the Thai Burma border in this style of learning.
Dr Thein Lwin has always supported our Global Schools Partnerships.  As ever, he is full of considered thought and understanding about the situation for Burmese education.  You can see him here inbetween my husband and I.  Thank you Thein Lwin, as ever for your gracious hospitality and discussion.  Sheila

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Buying stationery

Part of the Global Schools Funding for this year's project provides resources for the learning theme.  We were able to give CDC 5000 Thai Bahts to buy resources for making and displaying children's work at CDC.  So I went with Say Hai and Khu Paw to the stationery shop.  They were SO SCARED to spend the money.  "AArgh! 6 bahts for a piece of display paper. It's so expensive."

 "It's OK.  You can afford it. You have to spend 5000 Thai Bahts." They went back to CDC, loaded with paper, post its, display paper, scissors, wax crayons, tape and much more.
"We will write letter to say thank you to British Government and Global School Partnerships."

Humbling, eh?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

DAY 6 - CDC Final Day

DAY 6 - CDC Final Questions and Feedback. on PhotoPeach

Today was very emotive and moving for us all...these photographs speak for themselves.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheila for providing us with this unique has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences we have had. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the staff and students of CDC school, they have been enthusiastic, inspirational and supportive throughout our visit. We are honoured to have worked with such a dedicated and positive school community.
A final 'thank you' must also be extended to Eh Thwa and the staff at Mae Tao Clinc, as well as the owners and staff at the 'Casa Mia' restaurant for allowing us to exhibit the Grade 5 students Aung San Su Kyi work.
We hope that you too have enjoyed our blog entries...we would like to thank you all for your comments, they have really motivated us, especially when we are working at midnight listening to Kat's iPhone to keep us awake!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

DAY 5 - CDC 'Why Should We Care For Others?'

DAY 5 - CDC on PhotoPeach

Today we worked with the children to display some of their questions, photographs and drawings to share with the other CDC classes and teachers. The children really enjoyed helping us to create the wall montage and then had great fun exploring it with their friends.
The Grade 1 children worked with a talking partner today...they were thinking deeply about the BIG question, 'Why should we care for others?'. Then they shared their thoughts, feelings and answers in a class 'Thought Shower' session. We also shared the P2 Campie children's answers to this question with the CDC children and many of their answers were the same. The CDC children then worked collaboratively drawing around each other's hands because we talked about how we can show that we care for others with our our friends a cuddle, sharing, holding hands...
In Grade 5, the students completed their Aung San Su Kyi BIG questions and we explained to the students that their work is going to be exhibited in the local Burmese Health Clinic called Mae Tao and a popular restaurant called 'Casa Mia'. The students and teachers were very excited and proud of what they have achieved. We explained that we wanted to share their excellent thought provoking questions and beautiful portraits of Aung San Sui Kyi with their own and the wider community of Mae Sot.
It has been one of the most rewarding days so we both feel that the children have been teaching and the teachers that we have been working with are fully engaged with the different teaching and learning approaches that we have used. Many of the children have a good understanding of the different question words and the older children have demonstrated a greater ability to think more deeply about how to phrase their questions using more complex question vocabulary.

A gift from Stan for CDC Nursery

Stan Andre ran the Edinburgh Marathon for CDC School. Today we gave the money he raised to Khu Paw for CDC Nursery. She loves the nursery to look good and longs to have resources so children can play and draw freely.  She was VERY HAPPY. Thank you Stan.  You are THE MAN!

Jags at School

Hurray, this afternoon, I was well enough to get back up to CDC (by tuk tuk not bike), teach for 2 lessons, show Myoe Nyunt how to blog before Geoff brought a tuk tuk to take me home..... where I promptly threw up!  Except I had nothing to throw up as all I've eaten yesterday and today is a wee plate of mashed tatties!  Anyway, I can hear you all saying too much information.... there is actually more information but I'm being restrained!  Back to the story.

As I was working with Grade 6, answering Campie students' questions, a few children at a time were going out then coming in silently or very loudly wailing.  Yes, it's injection day at school today. 

Myoe Nyunt

We are happy to work with Scottish teachers and I got many technique or teaching methods so i believe that this project will be helpful for us. Now i was being with Teacher Sheila learning to how to post on blog.  

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

CDC Boarding House

Another day another thought provoking visit. There is no way you can come away from the boarding house without feeling an enormous sense of guilt and disgust with yourself. All the little things we take for granted and moan about at home e.g. that washing machine that needs fixed, that wallpaper we are bored of, the drawer that is overflowing because we have bought too many clothes (that don't fit) or the food we throw out weekly as we have over indulged.
80 girls live at Say Hei's Boarding House.1 boy who is an orphan that Say Hei has taken under her wing and 7 girls who are orphans. They live together as a large family unit. The whole thing works as everyone plays their role for the week in the rota and jobs get done without a fuss. This afternoon we watched as the girls returned from school, quickly changed, unloaded the dirty lunch dishes and started emptying the waste water from the plates and clothes washing, with buckets, into the drains outside. All with a smile!
They really are an inspiration to us all.

As with yesterday's Mae Tao Clinic blog we have not included any photos, as we did not take any. We wanted to maintain peoples' privacy and dignity.

Day 4 - Thinking About Deeper Questions ?????


Today we worked with the Grade 1 and KG classes on some 'Ultimate Questions' based around why we care for others, why we need rules and why some people are bad. The children found the work quite tricky and we encouraged them to draw their answers to these questions. Their drawings are beautiful; very detailed and many demonstrate that the children seem to be more able to think more deeply before answering thought provoking questions.

We managed a short sing song in the nursery today. Gillian used puppets made from foam animals and lollipop sticks to recreate Old McDonald and 5 Little Monkeys. We also sang 5 Little Ducks, Hello Mr Sun and the Days of the Week song. The children were far more focused and engaged today. They were very excited to see us and knew it meant singing time so came and sat down straight away at our feet. Unfortunately we do not have anyone to translate in the nursery and so spending a long period of time here is a little tricky with so many children.

Our work in Grade 5 has been centred around developing the childrens' knowledge and understanding of the different questioning vocabulary...we revisited the question words WHAT? WHO? WHY? WHERE? WHEN? HOW? and to our delight some of the children extended this repertoire to include ARE? DO? IS?...during our Aung San Su Kyi question activity. The children were asked to think of 3 questions they could ask this inspirational woman if she was to walk into the class. Their questions included:

Why were you put into prison?
What did you do when you were under house arrest?
When will Burma be free again?
When can I go back to Burma?

We were elated at all their responses. This lesson obviously was so relevant for them that they were motivated to do well. Even the "big" boys (they are about 16 years old whilst the youngest members of the class were 9 or 10) spent ages talking, thinking and drawing during this period. Super! Achievement!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Mae Tao Clinic

Wow well this amazing facility does not fail to impress and shock even on a second visit!
In February 1989 Dr Cynthia Maung set up a makeshift medical clinic 5 months after fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Burma. All of the clinic's medical instruments fitted into the bag that Dr Cynthia had thrown over her shoulder during her 10 day trek to escape Burma.
Today the clinic is a comprehensive community health centre with more than 1000 graduates working in clinics, schools, villages and camps along the Thai-Burma border. The clinic has a rising case load of over 90,000 patients a year many coming from the hills of Burma to receive free health care.
Seeing the range of facilities here is impressive from counselling, acupuncture, prosthetics, optometry, dentistry, paediatric ward, maternity ward, surgical ward, patient library, blood donation service, extensive training programmes to name but a few. It is no wonder people travel dangerous routes to receive the treatment they so need and deserve. Treatments we take for granted and often criticise about on the NHS.
I suppose the shocking aspects are the lack of "sterile" environments. As you walk around the clinic you see dried blood on the concrete floors. Wards have little privacy with patients being on full view of each other as they receive treatment. The matter fact way they spoke about potentially fatal injuries and diseases which we in reality we may never have to deal with e.g. landmines, dengue, malaria.
You can't help coming away from an experience such as today without having an immense feeling of guilt. They are constantly striving to improve this facility for the Burmese people in this and the surrounding community. The care a patient receives here makes a massive impact on their life and for this reason alone the clinic will continue to be the hub of this community. It has very close ties with our partnership school, CDC.  We both felt very privileged to be given time to see round the clinic by a very busy but knowledgeable member of staff - thank you. Thank you to Eh Thwa, the training team manager for arranging this visit for us.

Day 3 - Learning More About Questions ?????

Day 3 - Learning To Ask Questions ????? on PhotoPeach

May Htoo was the saviour of the day - she translated in the majority of our classes and did an amazing job.
We sang the Fischy Music song "Why?" with them and then we read the story "Why do the stars come out at night?" by Annalena McFee and Anthony Lewis. This story is based round all the kinds of questions that children wonder about such as:

Why is the sky so high? The oldest child replied with "because god is in the sky and he made the sky."

Why do babies cry? "because they have no Mum or Dad. They are dead."

Why do we fall asleep? "because it is dark... I don't like to sleep because I have bad dreams...I dream about my brother dying."

Grade 1
We explained the different words we use at the start of sentences which help us form questions - who, what, where, when, why and how. The children were then asked to form their own questions in pairs and to choose one of these to share with the class. They wrote their questions in Burmese. Some of the more poignant ones were:
Why do we live?,
Why don't you come to school?,
Why do you learn?
Why do you write?

Grade 5
Grade 5A answered Campie's questions and posed questions to them about life in Scotland. They tried really hard to achieve this in English.
Grade 5B engaged in work relating to the formation of questions using various question words. They were asked to do this with a partner and in English. They found this a challenge however their confidence grew as we fed back to the class. We spoke about the importance of asking questions to increase knowledge. We talked about the news and newspapers not always telling the full truth - they will tell you what they want you to hear - and it is crucial that they realise this and ask for more detail.
We are hoping they come prepared for tomorrow's lesson on questions for Aung San Suu Kyi - they seemed very excited about this. Hope they don't think she is making a personal appearance!

Overall today seemed to be a real success. The children seemed to enjoy getting the chance to think together and they definitely seemed to improve in formulating questions. We went home exhausted but happy.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Monday Lurgy

Oh dear, my sore tummy has developed into full blown TD (traveller's diarrhoea and vomiting) so I've slept through Saturday night, after the dreaded night market meal, and Sunday.  Well, I did make it up to Casa Mia to meet our friends Niamh, Jack and Onya but then Jack had to take me home mid meal to hurl.  So the teachers have gone to CDC on their own today.  Geoff says my brain is back so hopefully I am on the mend. The teachers will blog their Monday adventures later. Ms L

Congratulations Miss MacFarlane

on the birth of your baby girl yesterday. Greta is a lovely name and we're glad you are all well. Thanks so much for texting us.  :)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Saturday in Mae Sot - an assortment of photos

Today Kat and Gillian went swimming in the posh hotel on the outskirts of town.  When they came back, we had a visit from 2 of Louise's friends, who brought round what Louise left behind for us to bring home.  They kindly borrowed a big car to take us to the Border, where we walked by the River Moei, looking over to Burma. The border is still closed so we couldn't go over. We did a bit of haggling in the Border Market, came home, went to TESCO - yes it's even here! - and ate at the night market, which I HATE. UGH! I now have a sore tummy. :(

In the summertime... on PhotoPeach

The border between Burma and Thailand has been closed for a year. However, Burmese people come over to Thailand illegaly on either large tyre tubes or, as you see here, on a boat. It used to cost 100 kyats but now it costs 500 kyats. When you get off, after paying your 500 kyats, you have to pay another 500 kyats at a gate. The owner of the boat has to pay the Burmese police a cut of the fees.

Welcome Assembly

At CDC school, in the morning, the students and teachers line up in the assembly hall and outside their classrooms, sign the Thai National Anthem, raise the Thai flag and have a moment's silence to respect Thailand. 

What do you think about that?

(Geoff's made this wee montage of some video clips Kat managed to take. They're not great because we didn't want to offend by not facing the flag respectfully too.)

Friday, 8 July 2011

A message for Ms Porter

Have a beautiful wedding day, Ms Porter. We're thinking of you here in Mae Sot. Enjoy! Don't forget the mozzie spray for the honeymoon. with our love, Sheila, Kat and Gillian

Problem with header

Our accompanying IT adviser is trying to sort the problem with the header of the blog. He's a bit stumped at the moment but I have total faith in his ability to resolve any problem, just might take time. Sorry!

Friday Meal Out for 4 costs £10

Just had a meal at my beloved Casa Mia. So if you say £1 = 50 Thai Bahts, the total cost of a meal for 4 was 495 Thai Baht = just under £10.

1 Bruschetta = 30 Thai Baht
1 Penne Al Forno = 60 TB
3 lime shakes = 90 TB
1 pork fried rice = 45 TB
1 Singha beer = 70 TB
1 steam veg + shrimps = 50 TB
I ravioli = 90 TB
2 Banoffee pies = 60 TB

And it was all so delicious....

Day 2 - Welcome and Question Work with the CDC Children.

Day 2 at CDC - Assembly and Question Work. on PhotoPeach

Day two started VERY early in the morning with a 7am cycle to 'Casa Mia' for breakfast and planning for the day ahead at CDC. Ms Laing and Miss MacNaughton were so pleased to see the same waitress and Miss Lendrum loved her tropical fruit platter and Scottish tea (courtesy of Ms Laing!). Afterwards, the journey on two wheels continued to CDC...

Ms Laing started the school day off with a Welcome Assembly. Say Hei introduced us after the daily ritual of the rising of the Thai national flag to the Thai national anthem - this year accompanied by a drum and flute style band. We then led the singing of 'I Feel Good' (a Fischy favourite from last year) as well as introducing a new one - 'Why?' which fits with our Ultimate Questions project. We also brought Grade 1 out to the front of the hall to sing 'I Can Clap My Hands' - another fav from last year.They were great - if not a little star struck.

Miss Lendrum and I then headed off with Myoe Nuant to spend the morning with Grade 1 and Kindergarten, and the afternoon with Grade 5B. The children were really pleased to receive a question from a friend in Scotland and did a fabulous job of trying to draw or write an answer that their friend would understand. They then made up their own questions that we will take back to Campie and Say Hei will return the answers to them on her return journey in the Autumn term.

The children wanted to know things such as:

What does your house look like?
Do you have a zoo?
Are you well and comfortable?

Grade 1
Are your toys beautiful?
Are you happy going to school?
Do you have children that are orphans?
Do you have any refugees like us?

Grade 5
How many students at your school?
Are you happy living in Scotland?
Who is your best friend?
What do teachers do during summer vacation?

Ms Laing did the same lessons in the middle school classes - they answered the Campie childrens' questions and will make up their own questions next week.

Today it was lovely spending time with the children again - they are so welcoming and respectful. The staff are so humble and generous. The enormous amount of food that appeared at lunch time for us to eat was totally unexpected - we tried hard to try all the different Thai delicacies e.g. vegetable fritters, onion fritters, prawn stir fry, spicy vegetable salad, rice and crunchy noodles (which were a little like crisps).

Although we love spending time at CDC we are all looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday where we can relax a bit before 4 crazy school days next week.

Day 2 - Welcome and Question Work at CDC on PhotoPeach

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Day One - Meeting the Pupils and Teachers at CDC.

Welcome Staff Meeting At CDC! on PhotoPeach

Wow - feels so amazing but also so surreal to be back at CDC...Miss Lendrum just feels overwhelmed. Went into last year's KG class (you remember 2 hours of maths every afternoon number to 5!) and they launched into 5 Little Ducks - brilliant. It made my year. They have all grown so much and still so gorgeous -yes Mum I've remembered I can't bring any children home.

We had a late start today - with Fried Egg Rice at Auntie's for me and some European cuisine for the others. We then collected our bikes and headed up to CDC for a meeting with the primary teachers where we explained this year's project in fuller depth for those who had not been previously involved. Was lovely to see faces old and new. The fabulous Myoe Nuant did a great job of translating for us.

Seeing as Campie children had asked questions for the CDC children we decided to get the CDC teachers to ask the Campie teachers questions. Some were very hard to answer.
How do you teach different levels of the same children in the same class?
How will we carry on working together if the project is not allowed by the UK government?
How do you manage special education students in class?

On our way home we popped into the nursery for an unplanned visit to see the beautifully decorated room that some of the children learn and play in...Ku Paw was pleasantly surprised to see us even though she was heading for a shower!

Only one near miss whilst cycling through Mae Sot...poor Ms Laing hit a long rut in the road and did an amazing emergency stop and jump before hitting a concrete wall. Real 'Wonderwoman' action shot, no photos though as Miss Lendrum was too busy holding on to her handlebars and Miss MacNaughton is a speed demon on her red wheels! Ms Laing is fine and dandy by the way.

We are all very excited to get started tomorrow with an early morning 'I Wonder' assembly at 8:45 - better make sure we get up on time! Oh goodness me...a 6 am alarm call. Ahhhhh! Miss Macnaughton and Miss Lendrum

For me today was very moving. The partnerships are a lot of hard work, jumping through hoops to get the DfID funding and negotiating visas is such depressing hard work as our teachers apply and apply and get refused entry to UK.  Then today, I have the incredible privilege to stand up in front of 21 Burmese and Karen teachers and talk them through the project we have planned together.  We have SO MUCH, they have so little and yet we can come and they listen so attentively to us.  I hope the work we do together in this year helps them as much as their partnership helps us in Scotland.  I feel so humbled and so very lucky to be part of a partnership with the immensely inspiring Burmese people.  Sheila

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Going to Mae Sot

Going to Mae Sot on PhotoPeach

Having just arrived in Mae Sot, my first impressions are very different to how I is much more built up, with a VERY busy road system that seems really chaotic despite being one way. The air is filled with a mix of exotic spices, fumes and the ever present aroma of open drains.....We received a very warm welcome from Say Hey and her son, Ku Paw, Myoe Nuant and Kiki which made the bus journey from Chiang Mai a distant memory.

Ms Laing is coping very well with the numerous changes since last year's visit; not only did she have to stay in a new hotel in Chiang Mai...the Orchid did not impress, although the pool was glorious, but we have been 'upgraded' to the brand new plush 'executive wing' of the DK.....we have a fridge...but no balcony...let's see what changes tomorrow brings when we all meet the school staff at CDC. Miss Lendrum

It was lovely to arrive in Mae Sot, as it always is.  We do love it.  Then to be met by Say Hei and her son, Ku Paw, Myoe Nyunt and the Mae Tao Cinic car.  Then off to the DK, hoping we wouldn't be on the top floor!   

All the teachers who have been here with us before will be amazed when we show you the new DK annexe. It's a lovely house with new furnishings, cotton sheets (hurray!), a fridge to keep Geoff happy, free wifi, soft towels, tall toilet and a shower that looks good.  Oh yes and it's on the ground floor, no more hikes up those steep stairs because we forgot our bike key!.  Thank you Teacher Kiki for booking these rooms for us.  We're well chuffed.  

We went to eat at  Canadian Dave's tonight. Even Dave's changed.  He's expanded to the shop next door and was very very busy.  It was lovely to be back.  I even ate cashew and pineapple fried rice to confound those of you who think I'm not adventurous!  See, like the Campie kids, I CAN DO CHANGE!  

Miss Lendrum is nervous about tomorrow. We're having a lazy morning, then off to rent our bikes that Bobo had arranged for us in the morning. At lunchtime, we go to CDC and will pop into all the classes to say hi before meeting the primary school teachers after school to discuss this year's project. The work begins.  Ms Laing

PS Photopeach slideshow seems to have knocked our header off.... a job for SuperGeoff.... tomorrow!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Today we go to Mae Sot

It's 9am and we're up for breakfast, which Miss Macnaughton and Miss Lendrum slept right through yesterday. They didn't wake up until 1pm. We thought they'd gone sightseeing but they were snoring in their beds. Today however, Miss Lendrum is back to normal. Many of you know that means she's at the gym at the crack of dawn before school. There is a gym here but it's a bit creepy so here is Miss Lendrum, on lap 121 of the hotel swimming pool, while the rest of us drag ourselves out of bed. It's another hot and sunny day here in Chiang Mai. We leave at 1.10pm on the Green Bus, arriving at Mae Sot at 6.40pm. It's time to leave those western toilets behind and start squatting. Joy!

Chiang Mai Chill Out

Well Miss Lendrum and Miss Macnaughton missed the first part of day catching up on some much needed sleep before refreshing ourselves in the swimming pool with a few laps!

Sheila and Geoff found this safe looking child's seat on a Saungtaw! Interesting - think braking would result a child being catapulted into next year.
We then went to meet Stuart Simpson and Murray Forgie for a coffee to catch up on the life and times of Chiang Mai. Lovely to see the guys as always.

Off to snooze - lets hope we don't do another 14 hour stint or we'll miss the bus to Mae Sot.


Miss Lendrum's first impression is that Chiang Mai is very western.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Safely arrived in Thailand

Ms Laing and Geoff arrived in Bangkok at noon and got to our hotel at 4.45pm. We had a great journey. We booked really early with Air France. It only cost £650 from Edinburgh to Bangkok and was the best flight we've taken over the 5 years we've been coming. I phoned Say Hei at CDC and Myoe Nyunt. They're excited to see us on Wednesday when we go by but to Mae Sot. Tomorrow is a day for swimming, sleeping and resting to get over a short but torrid term. We're also going to see Murray and Stewart who started us off on the partnerships 6 years ago. That'll be lovely. The weather here today was sunny and hot, which was a wee bonus as we've been told it's raining hard in Mae Sot.

Tonight at 10.20pm, Miss Macnaughton and Miss Lendrum finally made it into Chiang Mai after a very long and hard journey. Miss Macnaughton woke up to a tummy upset on Sunday and only made it here thanks to the wonderdrug Imodium. We don't usually use them till we get to Mae Sot. Let's hope it's not a sign of what's to come. They travelled from Edinburgh to London to Delhi to Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Ugh.... too many flight changes but I guess they have youth on their side. Our Thai driver said, "They are teachers? They are too young!" I did enlighten them that actually they're quite old!

Booking in before crashing into a bed. How good is a bed after flying all night? Breakfast at 9.30am and a lazy day tomorrow before travelling to Mae Sot. It's great to be back in Thailand.

IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE A COMMENT, CHOOSE ANONYMOUS FROM THE DROP DOWN MENU, WRITE YOUR COMMENT THEN PRESS PUBLISH (probably) TWICE. That seems to work. Thanks for telling us that in your comment Alicia. Not had that wee babby yet then?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

En Paris

Nous sommes en Paris and there's only 2 cafes in Charles De Gaulle airport. How weird is that. We've had a 5hr wait here but at least we're well. Poor MissMacnaughton was ill last night and today and she's still coming. She should be in London now and Miss Lendrum is flying to London as we speak. They meet there then fly to somewhere in India where they change for Bangkok. Our 12 hour flight is from Paris to Bangkok. CDC seems a long way away..... Ms L

Friday, 1 July 2011

Two Sleeps!

Well school is over and the time has nearly come for another trip to Mae Sot. Keep watching the blog over the next few weeks to keep updated on our adventures. If the blog tickles your fancy for a bit more of Burma I would recommend Little Daughter by Zoya Phan (which I've not had the time to finish yet - 1/2 to go and only this afternoon to read it - before I return to the library). It is an easy read - considering - and from what I have read so far is a typical (ish) Karen life story. Also Lisa Houston is mentioned in the acknowledgements - I can only assume it's our Lisa from Mae Tao clinic. Happy summer! Miss Macnaughton