University of Vermont

Asian Studies Outreach Program

Letter from a Visiting Scholar Alumni

My Wonderful Experience in Vermont

In 2010, Mali Treephet, a teacher at Assumption Samutphrakarn School in Thailand, decided to take on a global challenge: spend one year in Burlington, Vermont, as a Visiting Scholar at JJ Flynn School.

Along with keeping a blog, Life In Vermont 2010-2011, to record and share her experiences in Vermont with friends and family, at the end of her time in Vermont Mali composed an open letter. The letter, found below, is a reflection of her time in Vermont, highlighting some of her favorite moments and discusses some of the cultural differences between schools in Thailand and Vermont. The letter, ending with a quote by Henry Ford, encourages others to take on challenges in life, such as international travel, that will help them grow as a person.

Letter from Mali Theephet

Last school year I had a great opportunity to go to U.S.A. as a visiting scholar in Burlington which is the largest city in Vermont State. It is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain which is really gorgeous. Vermont has a very beautiful natural environment, especially the changes of the four seasons. It was really awesome. I experienced the phenomena that rarely happened in Burlington such as a thunder storm in winter, the biggest blizzard, the highest floods and the biggest moon. A nine month stay in Vermont, I acquired a lot of wonderful experiences that I would like to share.

About teaching experience, I not only had many chances to teach American people about Thailand and Thai culture at John J Flynn Elementary Schools and C.P. Smith Elementary School but I also learned about their country, diverse cultures, school system and classroom management from them. Both teachers and students were excited to learn about Thailand and to take part in Thai cultural activities. What they liked best was to wear Thai costumes and to perform Thai dance. They had a morning meeting to share their experiences to their teacher and their classmates and sometimes they played games, sang action songs and exercised together. All parents were invited to share their experiences and teach some lessons during morning meeting and in other classes such as science and social studies.

The most exciting event was School Lock Down which was a drill for students to be safe from the strangers coming to school. All lights were turned off, all doors and windows were locked. Teachers and students had to hind themselves in their classrooms quietly until the police came and checked if they were safe. I also learned that the word friend is meaningful when some American students hugged me and said that I was not their teacher but their best friend. It sounded great to me. It does not mean that they do not respect me but they love me.

I also had political experience because my host was a community organizer so I had chances to meet with important people like the governor and the senator of Vermont State, attend interesting seminars and visit interesting places with her.

According to Henry Ford's quote "Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger", I would like you to experience whenever you have a chance, especially in foreign countries.

Last modified August 26 2011 11:17 AM

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