Megan Farmer Testimonial, Former teacher
“Wow!”I’ve found myself saying this many times here in Thailand. Working at Surat Thani International School and living in Thailand has truly been an incredible experience! Incredible! There are so many adjectives, which one is the best to use? As I write this I can hear my students using their adjectives to describe how they are feeling—happy, jubilant, joyful, ecstatic. I got tired of hearing “I am happy” every morning during circle time, so I taught them a few colorful synonyms for happy. They loved it! All of those are emotions I have felt while living in Thailand, along with confused, frustrated, uncertain, amazed, relaxed, content, the list could go on. All in all, this experience has been one of the best experiences of my life. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to live in another country to experience the culture and way of life of a people different than what I am accustomed to. I recognized that this would put me far outside my comfort zone, but at the end of our comfort zone is where we begin to grow as people. And I certainly have grown in so many ways this year!
By far the thing I have loved most about my time in Thailand has been my students. My little Penguins. Who knew that eleven 5 and 6 year olds could have such an impact on my life. They are the smartest, funniest, and wackiest kids I know. And I love them for it! I have learned from them and I have seen them learn and grow so much in the time I have worked with them. The students at STIS are incredibly smart and their curiosity for learning is inspiring. This curiosity in the students makes teaching so much more fun and enjoyable because I can continuously see the progress my students are making. At the Academic Expo we just had, all of my students were able to read a book on their own. On stage, into a microphone, in front of a group of parents! That was a proud moment for me as a teacher. The small class size has also allowed me with the opportunity to get to know each of my students on an individual level. I have had countless sweet one on one conversations with each of my students in which I have seen their individual personality. I treasure these moments and I know they would not be possible if I were teaching in a Thai school with 50+ students that I see once or twice a week.
Of course, the decision to leave my awesome job in the States (I did love my job) and move to a new country that I had never been to, where I did not know anyone, was quite overwhelming and filled with mixed emotions. As I began to look for schools to work for, Surat Thani International School stood out to me from the beginning because of the wealth of testimonials and praise from other teachers that I found on the website. Since the first email contact, Peter has been incredibly helpful in making the decision and preparation for moving as smooth as possible. He explained each step of the process in great detail and was always available and willing to answer any questions I had. This was a great comfort in the months and weeks leading up to my move. Even after I arrived, Peter and his wife, Jeab, were awesome resources and did a lot to help me get settled in to Surat. At the school, Peter is always available and happy to support the teachers as well. Peter has created a great balance of freedom and structure in how the teachers are able to lead their classrooms. While there are textbooks provided for teachers to work through, how you present the material and the pace you work at is up to the individual teacher. Though this can seem overwhelming at first if you don’t have much teaching experience, it really provides for a great teaching experience. Because of the flexibility and freedom I have had in the classroom, I was able to find a teaching style that suits me and my students which has made my effort all the more effective and successful.
On top of STIS being an incredible school to work at, it’s location in Surat is perfect! Surat itself is a nice city to live in and it is a transportation hub to so many wonderful places in Thailand. We are just a short ferry ride away from several beautiful islands and beaches. There is also an airport in the city with inexpensive flights to many destinations all over Southeast Asia. I have been able to go to some beautiful places on weekends and holiday breaks. There is also a good size group of expats in the town and a variety of interest groups to get involved in including soccer and writing. Between my work in the classroom, the great people in Surat, and the awesome destinations all around, I have certainly never been bored or at a loss for something to do! Its location in Thailand has only made my experience at STIS so much greater.
This has been an experience unlike any other. I’ve met some amazing people that I will keep in touch with after I leave and I’ve made some unforgettable memories that I will forever cherish.