Last May, I arrived in Thailand at the beginning of the school year to support two elementary programmes, one in a rural public school with about 450 of over 1,000 children enrolled in 13 elementary classrooms and the other, in a private school located outside of Bangkok with 60 children.

I was not sure what to expect, except that I was to be cared for, and this was true beyond my expectations. I was so moved by how I was welcomed and honoured. 

In my six weeks, I had undertaken almost everything that I had been expected to do as a classroom teacher in the US, except to conduct parent teacher conferences!

There were too many highlights to describe here, however, I’ve chosen a few, the food, the dedicated Montessori community, and the eagerness to implement my suggestions. The Thai food is simply delicious. I was introduced to many new foods, particularly fruits. My favorite is mangosteen. The Thai Montessori community of teachers and directors is appreciative and enthusiastic to learn more. So many were willing to travel up to 500 miles for a weekend workshop for which I presented. This was all organized by the staff of WatDanChang School, located about 200 km. North of Bangkok. Presentations included a variety of topics, including Freedom with Responsibility, Cosmic Education, Planning & Record Keeping, Prepared Environment, along with some fun activities for team building! Another special experience was observing the many classroom environments, giving feedback, and best of all seeing the transformations as suggestions I had given were implemented. The teachers reconsidered their materials on the shelves. They thoughtfully chose them and displayed in an attractive manner so  the children could explore independently. New books, plants, even some animals were introduced. The teachers expanded their group work offering new ideas for the children to investigate or practice their learning.

Besides the work in the schools, I was fortunate to enjoy the cultural beauty of Thailand. I visited Ayutthaya, viewing the ancient ruins, temples, and markets. The sense of history is impressive. Over a long weekend, I traveled to Chiang Mai to appreciate more temples and markets. In addition, I visited an elephant sanctuary and attended a full day cooking class on a farm. What a tasty treat! Since then, I’ve enjoyed preparing several Thai meals for family and friends. In Bangkok, the director and local teachers brought me to numerous impressive sites, all the while sharing about Thai customs. No wonder, visitors exclaim their enthusiasm for their visits to Thailand. What’s not to admire?

All in all, my experiences were extraordinary and life changing. I was able to make a contribution to the Thai Montessori community and will forever be indebted to those who supported me in this endeavor.