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Teacher remembers her months and friends in Thailand
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Teacher remembers her months
and friends in Thailand

Mandi Steele
By Mandi Steele
In this issue The Journal publishes the final report from Thailand written by 22-year-old Mandi Steele of Stockton, Mo., who until recently helped out at the International Leadership Training Center, operated by Legacy Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Miss Steele served there with the aid of a grant from the Church of God Big Sandy.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand--Well, I did say good-bye, but I have to admit that I will definitely look back and often.

I left Legacy Institute this month to come back home to America. It was difficult for me to say good-bye to my students, the students I've come to really love like they are a part of my family.

It's hard to let go, especially when I know that I will probably never see most of them ever again. Now that I'm back I miss them all like crazy and want to hear every detail of what they're doing in my absence.

Helping at the school was a rewarding experience for me in many ways. I think the most rewarding thing about it was being able to bond with the students. When you are with them every day for six months, you really get close.

I can also see the progress we, meaning all the teachers and students combined, made in learning English. When I look back at the start of the school year, I remember each of the students' English abilities. When I left, the difference was amazing to me.

A couple of the students couldn't put two words together in English. Now the same students can make simple conversation and can understand you when you talk to them.

One of those students even asked me to buy him a particular book upon my return to the States. (They get bolder as well.)

The first-year students were shy at first. But that didn't last long. Soon they start asking you to rent movies for them and buy them books in the U.S.A. It's pretty funny. I'm glad they came out of their shell. (I think being around noisy American teachers helps.)

James Hostetter tutors person from Thailand
SCHOOL — James Hostetter, 28, of Sacramento, Calif., one of five visiting American teachers at Legacy Institute in 2004, tutors Chai Chit, a 19-year-old student from Tham Hin refugee camp in Thailand. [Photo by Mandi Steele]

Even though Iwasn't a student, I learned a lot too. I learned about people, cultures, customs, languages, religion and so much that I would never have learned if I hadn't gone. I even learned a ton about my own language. To teach something is probably the best way to know if you really know it yourself. Teaching subjects like health and English isn't exactly an easy task.

Overall, I'm extremely glad I went to Thailand to teach. I feel lucky to have met and gotten the chance to work with such fantastic students. There were both bad times and good times at the school. Nothing is ever perfect, and I wouldn't want anyone thinking about going on such an excursion to think it will be all heaven and no heartache or trials. But the good outweighs the bad.

I suppose it even makes up for the mosquitoes. Man, I hated those mosquitoes.

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