Name : Jeanine Grasmeijer
Age : 19 years old
From : The Netherlands
Period : July 2011, 4 months

My name is Jeanine and I stayed at Isan Survivor from July till November 2011. During this time I got to know SO MUCH about Thai people, culture and language. I became friends not only with Jack and his family, but also with some of my Thai students and the Thai teachers I taught with.

English camp

I have been taken to countless temples in and around the village, on mountains or in forests. I went to many Thai festivals, like the huge Naga Fireball festival in October which takes place right here in Ponphisai; the beautiful Loi Krathong festival in November; a traditional rice harvesting festival in a faraway village in the countryside; a long-tail boat-race on the Mekongriver; the Songkran festival in April, also known as Thai New Year. This festival resembles a 3 day national water fight, but with monks, Buddha statues and old people getting involved. Try to imagine clouds of talc powder hovering around pickup trucks that carry buckets of ice water through streets full of soaked people and stages with dancing ladyboys. There is loud music and there is no way you can avoid getting wet or drunk, especially here where you're one of those rare seen foreigners...


I went on day trips with Jack or with a Thai teacher and slid of waterfalls. I visited the totally awesome sculpture park in Nongkhai. I went with Jack and some friends to Laos. I cooked Thai food with the Thai English teachers, whom are all without exception beautiful, super kind Thai women. I saw an amazing Chinese circus that came to town. I learned about Buddhism. I taught some kids to swim. I invented games and songs to play in schools, on the playground and the swimming pool. I ate the best Thai food in Thailand (e.g the world). I learned to speak and read(!) Thai language to the point that I could have a conversation with any Thai and read signs and menus. I learned a few things about myself as well, for example that I was apparently able to improvise an amusing 1 hour English class for 35 15year-olds about the present continuous.


Before I came to Phonphisai, BTD, I had no teaching experience at all, but I found it easy to pick up a teacher's attitude and to overcome my own shyness. Once I was comfortable organizing classes, doing educational games and singing songs I tried to understand how I really could teach these kids some useful things. I will be honest that it's not easy, but I recommend everybody to come here and try it out themselves. Thai kids are really wonderful and they are truly happy to have a foreigner teaching them. You will teach in small countryside schools, either primary or secondary level. I taught in primary school for 3 months, before I dared to try secondary school, but actually this was even better. Most teenage kids have a better English level, so they are able to comprehend a lot more that the younger kids.


My time at Isan Survivor is one of the most special times in my life. After November 2011 I returned 2 times (already :) ). Once with my family for New Year and once for Songkran in April. I'll probably keep coming back as often as I can, because Phonphisai really feels like a second home.