In 2010 I began volunteering as an English teacher at Chalermrat Wittayaakom (CRW) school in the Mae Hong Son district of Northern Thailand. The school has around 300 students, half of whom are boarding students. Although small for a public school, the CRW campus is vital to the region, which is home to mostly hill tribe populations. If not for CRW, most of the children in the area would have no educational opportunities.
The majority of the students at the school come from local Karen, hill tribe villages. It’s a very impoverished region, and many of the student’s families struggled to provide the necessities, such as uniforms, supplies, and meals, for attending school. The CRW school therefore offers the students the opportunity of boarding at the school at no cost to the parents.
Instead, the students are given the option to participate in a work-study program that allows them to work after school in exchange for room and board. The kids enjoy living together on campus, and they are very appreciative for the opportunities of learning, working, and participating in various extra curricular activities such as music and sports. Even during while at work, the students have smiles on their faces, as they seem to be enjoying each other’s company.
Over the years, I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with the students at Chalermrat. Especially in 2014 when I was able to spend a full term teaching English classes. The kids are remarkably well behaved and they’re so grateful for the educational opportunities. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of their learning experience.