In Thailand, you tend to see cases in which families from poor or rural areas send their children to become monks, this is due to the educational opportunities offered.
The schools or universities in the temples of Thailand are a whole different world, as a volunteer you can be part of this life experience and get to know this way of life yourself.
The day starts very early at the schools inside the temples of Thailand. Upon arrival, new students line up to receive morning announcements from the school or faculty. In addition, before classes, prayers and meditations are held until the beginning of classes at 8:30 a.m. Another round of prayer and meditation is also done at lunchtime.
Your experience as a volunteer can be very enriching. Not everyone has the opportunity of a more direct access to a Buddhist temple. You have the option to join group meditations, recite mantras with students and celebrate festivals as a guest of the monastic community.
YOUR ROLE AS A VOLUNTEER
AT THE SCHOOL
The skills of each volunteer are different, so a Thai teacher is assigned, who the volunteer will support and assist in the daily classes. In the case that you feel capable and have enough confidence to teach and administer a class, there is no problem to have this experience.
Speaking English in Thailand is very appreciated and being fluent puts you in high demand. While the priority is to support English classes, you will also have the opportunity to give art classes or join new students during other activities.
In 4 out of the 5 schools (in temples), 100% of the students are Buddhist monks. Like the teachers, almost all wear the saffron robe as a way of life.
The most important thing about the volunteer program is that you will help these students to craate connections in their lives.
The students in the five temple schools are between 12 and 15 years old, and most have had little or no interaction with foreigners. Volunteers are invited and encouraged to have lunch with students and teachers, this allows them to get to know each other better.
AT THE UNIVERSITY
This project is available only in Chiang Mai.
The university has approximately 250 university students, aged 18 to 22. Generally, half of the students are Thai and the other half are of other Asian nationalities, such as: India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos. This diversity in class creates an international learning environment in an institution focused on higher education for Buddhist monks.
The university is located in one of the largest and most historic temples of Chiang Mai. Volunteers are supervised by the English department management team, which has highly qualified and bilingual staff.
The volunteers mainly assist the English teachers with the scheduled lessons. In addition, to help students outside the classroom in an informal way, the following are practised:
- Other tasks and skills
Occasionally, Thai teachers ask the volunteers for support in the preparation and revision of the class. Many of these responsibilities will be based on the working relationship between the teacher and the volunteer. You almost always work directly with your assigned teacher.
Remember that a Buddhist day is selected every week. During this day the university is closed. When a Buddhist day falls on a week day, that school day is recovered on the Saturday of that week.
The university closes on Sundays, Thai holidays and Buddhist holidays.
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF THE VOLUNTEER
- You must be of legal age (18 years old and over). In general, volunteers do not need any specific qualifications, but they are expected to enjoy the presence of and get involved with adolescents and young adults.
- As well as being open and respectful of Buddhism and other cultures.
- Volunteers must also have knowledge of written and spoken English, in addition to being creative as there tends to be a lack of teaching materials at the schools.
It is very important that you present the following documents in the application process for your volunteering:
- Criminal record certificate before your start date.
- Copy of your passport.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
For each class it is important to have a lesson plan prepared. It is crucial that when preparing and planning a lesson, a simple procedure is followed. When planning, try to cover the four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in the period of one hour of class.
Here is a basic guide on how inexperienced teachers can plan lessons:
- Introduction to the class and a brief warm-up activity.
- Presentation of new material / review of material already covered.
- Practice of the presented material. Prepare a speaking activity and then a writing activity using the material covered.
- A quick activity to finish with.
VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER
Keep in mind that not all monks (either beginning students or teachers and staff) can touch or be touched by a woman. In addition, women can not directly deliver something to a Buddhist monk, it must be placed on a secondary object (table, chair, NOT on the floor).
DUE TO RELIGIOUS RULES, THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES ARE NOT PERMITTED
- Playing sports or active games
Buddhist monk students can perform simple games (which are not too physically active).
Something that they are allowed to do is acting. Art programs in many of the schools are quite popular with students as they enjoy expressing themselves through art. Any type of artistic technique or project that a teacher can bring to the class would be useful and well received. But keep these Buddhist rules in mind when preparing and planning the proposal.
The dress code in Buddhist schools is formal. It is not considered appropriate to wear clothes that are too tight or show too much.
Volunteers are required to wear:
- Long skirts for the project of teaching at the university. For the teaching at schools, non-tight trousers can be worn.
- Shirts that cover your shoulders and chest. (Not adjusted, preferably polo type).
- Volunteers will also be asked to remove their piercings and cover exposed tattoos.
Furthermore, smoking and drinking is strictly prohibited in educational centers and accommodation. During the hours you are at school, all volunteers are asked to refrain from smoking (even off-site).
SCHEDULE AND PLACE OF WORK
Usually, the classes with the students in the temples (Buddhist schools) are organised in the following way:
- 8:00 Morning assembly and prayers
- 8:30 Classes begin
- 11:10 Lunch break
- 12:10 After-lunch assembly and prayers
- After the assembly and prayers, the afternoon classes begin
- 4:20 Classes finish for the day
Due to the relatively relaxed schedule for volunteers at the university, volunteers are offered to help at the temple schools for beginners in the mornings.
- Throughout the morning, the students of the university stay in their respective temples and practice Buddhist rituals, prayers and meditation.
- After lunch classes begin.
- 4:30 Classes end for the day.
Throughout the day, students, teachers and staff pray and practice meditation. If a volunteer wants to participate, they are invited to do so. If you do not want to participate, you are only asked to be respectful of those who participate in the religious activity.
COSTS OF THE PROGRAM
The total cost of the program of Teaching English to Buddhist monks in Thailand starts at €700 for two weeks. Each additional week costs €160. (The price in dollars is indicative).
The prices of the program of Teaching English to Buddhist monks are in euros, so the currency exchange will be affected. You can check the currency exchange rate in the period of your trip.
WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR?
- Airport pick-up
- Accommodation during your stay
- Breakfast every morning
- Lunch on the project every workday (dinner isn’t included)
- 2-day orientation (includes a half-day tour of the city, cultural dinner and show)
- Local coordinator
- 24/7 assistance