In the summer of 2009, Dr. Kris Rugsaken asked us if we would be interested in joining the English Camp 2010 as Team Leaders. We responded with an immediate “yes”! Little did we know what would be the full impact of our decision.
Our backgrounds include travel to many countries where we found that proficiency in English was essential for almost everything. Eighty percent of all commerce and tourism is conducted in English. Travel also exposed us to a wide variety of lifestyles, religions and cultures. Travel has truly enriched our lives. So, that is why we eagerly agreed to be Team Leaders for English Camp 2010. In addition, Dr. Kris assured us that it would be fun!
We each had four students, who ranged in age from nineteen to twenty-one. The daily routine for English Camp included three hours of formal classroom work followed by lunch with the students. Typically, we accompanied our students to an outing arranged by the PSU staff. After a short rest, we went to dinner (frequently at a night market) where out students helped us select food. They took great care in teaching us the importance of food in Thai culture. We were with our students for the entire day. They were exposed to English spoken by Americans and Canadians in both formal and informal settings.
The first several days were surprisingly one-sided, as we were very likely speaking too fast and the students were shy about their abilities. After they became more comfortable, they began to speak; make mistakes; slow down; and have fun (as predicted by Dr. Kris). It was then that the students began to show enthusiasm for the classes and the afternoon outings. They were clearly eager to learn, not just about English, but about Western culture as well. The students really made measurable progress after they became comfortable.
We were treated with unbelievable respect and attention. Our students actually seemed to compete with one another to take good care of us: from helping us select food to crossing the streets safely! We found our students to have joyful spirits in their eagerness to learn and to teach us about their country and culture. We were struck by their pride in their culture and their country. We became very connected to our students, as they did to us. At the closing ceremony, one student from each group was selected to “thank” their respective Team Leader with a very meaningful and emotional farewell experience. It was an evening that we will never forget.
We were so moved by the entire two weeks that we decided to sponsor a student from each group – Phim and Koy- for the opportunity to visit with us in America. Phim and Koy took great care of us while we were in Thailand and have maintained contact with us since we returned home. They contact us through SKYPE on a weekly (or more often) basis. They continue to increase their mastery of English through these calls and recently achieved top scores in their English classes! Throughout our adult lives, we have been gifted with opportunities to experience new and life-expanding travels. Whenever we have attempted to repay those who have helped us, we were told that we would one day have the chance to help someone else. So, that time has come. We would like to pass along the wonderful experiences that we have had through travel. Dr. Kris was right – we had fun!
By John Johannemann and Mitzie O’Neill
Hello! Everyone, my name is Phimolpim Singchan. You can call me Pim. I’m a student at Prince of Songkla University, Trang Campus. This is a short article about my feeling. Last summer I joined in PUS-BSU English camp. At the first time I just wanted to improve my English. In English camp I met the husband and wife camp leaders. After ending of camp I still kept in touch with them. They were kind, generous, and funny. They were mare than my camp leader. They were like my second parent. They gave a lot of good care to me. I was very glad as I knew that they wanted me to visit them in Kentucky, USA. For a little girl as me it’s a big gift. No matter what happens. I’m really glad I joined in English camp and met them. It was really lucky for me to meet them. Anyway, these are my feeling about English camp. It’s can not tell you whole of my feeling, but I want you to know you should go to PSU-BSU English camp once in a lifetime.