Welcome to my new classroom. This is a part of Bangkok called Yommarat. The community stretches along the railroad tracks for 3km or more. Like most of the slums and poor communities in this sprawling city, it’s only minutes from major shopping districts and tourist attractions. Occasionally, you do see a drifting foreigner stand at the street and peer curiously into this community. But there’s no welcome sign here. No access by car. And an attentive group of residents I like to refer to as the Neighborhood Watch.
Unlike the first location, here we don’t have the privilege of a neutral location to meet and teach. A quick glance across the tracks from where we’re teaching reminds you of the proximity of people, as you realize you’re looking into someone’s home. I don’t mean to paint a scary picture. If you make it past the Neighborhood Watch, you quickly realize most of the residents are poor, but very hard working. They rise early and return late from the streets and local markets where many sale something. You also notice the neighborhood is full of children. The two biggest groups seem to be the tiny kids wandering about and a loud pack of scrappy, mischievous boys. As in the other community, the kids all attend school, but may not have a chance to study English until they begin secondary school.
We begin our Sanuk My Saturday program teaching here at the end of February. Don’t forget you can donate to this project this month and receive a Big Fish book. I’m already sending books to California and Western Australia, so I’ll be glad to send a copy to anyone else donating $10 or more. Finally, to give you a real sense of the sound and fury of this new community, I have uploaded a rough–mostly unedited clip of me walking around. If you watch you will hear me asking questions about where the kids can play. That gets interrupted (wait until you see why). Next, they take me to see a pretty pitiful play area that the kids can use. The most interesting part, however, is all the people I pass on the way. Take a look below (or go to the video by clicking here):
“Dream Big. Work smart. Start Local.”