Asian Studies Outreach Program
Teaching in Thailand
- By Jacqueline Drouin
"I had no hesitation in making the decision to teach in Thailand." Explained Eliza Arsenault. As a soon-to-be graduate of the 2012 Master of Arts in Teaching program, the CESS graduate student from Amherst had imagined teaching abroad, but wasn’t always sure how the process would unfold. When the department of education sent out an email on its listserv late January inviting the graduating class to meet with the director the Asian Studies Outreach Program (ASOP) to learn more about life in Thailand, Eliza attended the meeting. Within a few weeks, the high school chemistry teacher was buying a ticket to Thailand.
Meeting with the director of ASOP, Bill Williams, and the program director for the Institute on Thailand, Michael Stuart, provided Eliza with the information on what life and the life of a teacher would be like in Thailand. “This isn’t a teacher placement program,” explained the director. “Through our overseas programs we have great contacts with schools in Thailand, and we can offer recent graduates with a teaching degree information on what life would be like at those schools, and who they would need to contact if they are interested in teaching in Thailand.”
With a chemistry degree, Eliza was offered two teaching jobs: one was in the urban center of Bangkok, while the other was in the more rural area of Ubon Ratchathani. “It was a hard choice deciding between the two schools,” explained Eliza. Balancing the desire to live in a more rural environment and the goal of becoming a chemistry teacher, Eliza finally decided on Ubon. “I want to “live in Thailand”, learn the language, and being a part of the community. I think that will be possible in Ubon.”
In less than a week, Eliza will be getting on a plane for a new career and new adventure. Although she was planning on being a high school chemistry teacher, her career at Assumption Ubon Ratchathani will have her teaching science, math and English to 5th and 6th grade in class sizes that range between 30 to 35 students. “There is only so much I can do to prepare,” said Eliza, who has plans to gather as many elementary school lesson plans as she can from her colleagues prior to departing. She’s also confident that the program’s foundation classes and her mentor class will help her in this next step in her career.
“I know that the people in Thailand are friendly, welcoming, warm and happy.” Said Eliza with a smile, referring to her new supervisor in Thialand, Busaba Chumsen, at Assumption Ubon Ratchathani. “It’ll all work out.”