When I arrived at Freedom House, the first impression I got was that it wasn’t really a school, it was just a regular house. But as I walked in, the atmosphere changed. The walls were decorated with learning posters; the shelves were full of children’s books and for breaktime, another shelf was filled with toys. The place had knowledge and potential written all over it. That’s when I understood the real meaning of “Freedom House”.
My time in Chiang Mai was my first time teaching. It was a relief to find out that no formal experience was expected of me, since it was also the kids’ first time in school. Even so, Lisa gave us a full day of training and culture-talk before we started. It was a great day with a lot of good info, but most of all it was just really fun. I immediately felt like I belonged and that I couldn’t have chosen a better volunteer location. It only got better from there!
After I had heard the stories of the kids we were going to teach, it never ceased to amaze me how they were always smiling during the few hours at Freedom House. Everyday they would let us know, just by being there and playing around and laughing all the time, how much good we were actually doing. It was not only the highlight of their day, it became the highlight of ours too.
What made working with the kids at Freedom House so fun and fulfilling was the fact that they were incredibly grateful and so eager to learn. The class consisted of a group who were there because they wanted to, not because they had to. But since they didn’t have to show up to school if they didn’t like it, it was also really important to make every lesson fun for them, and that challenge was really fun for me! One lesson, we got them to paint new curtains for the school, so they all painted their names in different colors (..we did too) and we hung the curtains up the next day. I still have a perfect picture of those curtains in my head, and the excited faces on the kids when they saw it.
It was also nice being two people in the classroom. We would constantly use each other as examples when trying to teach the kids something (which worked great) and when we needed to get more personal, we could easily make groups. I had alot of fun with the kids! They were so well-behaved and excited about everything! Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we became very close with them.
Freedom House for me, is everything that’s missing in the world. The school is built out of pure generosity. It’s a place where these kids can forget their unreasonable troubles, that no kid should have to worry about, and hang out with other kids. They get the education the government doesn’t provide for them (and that, for free) which secures their otherwise hopeless futures at a young age. Life isn’t fair, but at Freedom House, it’s made a little more bearable.
Being a part of the freedom house project is one of my proudest accomplishments yet and I can’t wait to go back one day!
Plus, FREE ROAD TRIP TO BURMA!! Check out the photos!