Reports from the Field

End of Program at PDO school in Myanmar

Sophy Mesa- Report #2

“Last week of the program and a mix of feelings experienced. I have been teaching 5 hours to 6 hours per day every day from Monday to Friday for the last 4 weeks. When I cam back from my first short trip, I started helping in English Classes, grade 7 and grade 5. In Grade 7 the teacher was pretty much giving the classes and I was “assisting” him. It was not till 3-4 weeks later that I had a talk with their supervisor and explained to him that he couldn’t let me teach kids because “my English was too advance” for the grade 7 kids. Also, I mentioned him how once the teacher of this class punched/hit the table cause he got a bit furious/angry against the kids. After I mentioned him that, he was surprised to hear my story, and so I finally started to actually teach to grade 7.

On the other hand, I kept my dance classes, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon. Another teacher asked me if I wanted to take over her singing class because she was going to travel soon and then she was off to he home country. So I accepted, and I started teaching singing/English vocabulary to the young teachers and monks.  At night, there is always an optional conversation class where any volunteer can come and join, and so I also started to join. We play games and listen to whoever come and join the class.

I have gained an amazing insight from the country as such, specially when travelling around, I have managed to visit Yangon, Bagan, Ngapali, Inle Lake, Monywa and a few other small villages and places around Mandalay. Every town is different from the next one. I was very impressed about the life in Inle Lake and the real Buddha forest in Monywa. Helping the kids at the school is very rewarding, however we do must have lots of patience and love to the kids and love to teaching. If we don’t possess or manage those qualities we may not be able to tolerate and manage the different circumstances that may arise.

Volunteering at PDO was a great experience, even though there are a few incidents that happened specially with other volunteers, but I believe is because some of the other volunteers are still teenagers, around 18yrs and so they still lack some respect. For instance, we have a small room where there is a fridge,  a kettle and a big pot to cook. Well, some days they keep the kettle and pot in their room, and even though we told them to please put it back in the kitchen, one day 7am the kettle was not there, and so I had to go upstairs and knock in their room to ask for the kettle. Similar incident happened a weekend, I believe some of them used my dance teaching room to watch movies, well the room for my dance class disappeared one weekend. I had to rush and ask for help to coordinators here, and they were thinking I was the one who lost the key. The key appeared again on Monday, magically.

I was also shocked to see young novices with cigarettes  in their hands and actually inviting me to join them. When I arrive I had no idea what to expect, now that I have to return, I have gained and received so many insights. Yes each day is very different from the previous one, and also it can get very tiring by just living and staying all the time inside the school. That’s why sometimes I prefer to have lunch/dinner outside PDO. Talking about the lunch, is always the same rice and potatoes. So I stopped having lunch at school because I could feel some nausea by just smelling the same food again. Is just not good either.

I’m lucky I didn’t get any major sickness, just once a body ache and some dizziness that with some paracetamol went away in the same day. Some other volunteers have got really sick that they had to go to hospital and take rest for days.

99% of the kids at PDO are extremely happy and smiling when they see me, just a few of them have got some attitude, and sadly those are the ones who behave and wear the western clothes all the time. I have also joined some of the Burmese traditional dance on the weekends and some of the guitar classes at night. They all welcomed me happily. Now its time to go to Australia to solve some pending issues.”

Sophy Mesa 2017

Buddhist Monastery School Teaching in Myanmar

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