My work has not only intruded upon my various hobbies including philately and maintaing my blogs but has completely taken over my life to an unprecedented degree. I believe the last time I was this busy may have been back in my university days during which I also worked in restaurant management.
While I am quite exhausted, the majority of this work is stress-free. I do enjoy all that I do. However, once I return home at the end of each long day, I am almost always too tired to do anything except watch a bit of TV and read a chapter or two before my eyes shut involuntarily.
What has occupied my time, you ask? Much of my “free time” at work last month involved preparing and then conducting a three-day English camp for 55 young students at a beach resort in northern Phuket. Our clients, once they sign the contracts, determine the camp’s main theme and then it is up to me to break that down into manageable , teachable parts around which we can still have a great deal of fun games and other activities. In this case, the client was an administrative sub-district which operates several schools in the eastern portion of the island. Their chosen topics were Global Warming and the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Try teaching that material to 10-year-olds with extremely limited English skills!
I prepared numerous flash cards, worksheets, as well as props and backdrops plus I created around 15 different games for this camp which was held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. Thankfully, the usual rainy season wet weather did not make much of an appearance (five minutes during the second morning) and the camp was a great success. The most difficult part was during the second afternoon when the children needed to use what they learnt the previous day about their assigned topics and put together 15-minute skits. They were given approximately two hours time to write scripts (in English!), learn their lines (each child had to say at least one sentence), and create visual materials out of a rather limited amount of paper, future board and tape/glue. Only one or two students completely froze but nobody gave up (or cried!).
I created a video using photos and video taken by myself and some of the other teachers and students at the camp:
The camp and its preparation were in addition to three 2-hours per day, five days per week private lessons. The earliest student (9-11) is preparing to take the entrance examination for one of the most exclusive international schools in Phuket; my 11-1 student will enter university next month and is strengthening his grammar skills while the 1-3 course is helping a TOIEC (Test of English for International Communication) candidate. All three enrolled for 30-hour courses. The early morning student has renewed twice (the most recent was yesterday) so she will learn for a total of 90 hours. The 11-1 student has renewed once and the 1-3 is at the mid-course point. Tomorrow, I will add a fourth class to this already grueling schedule, 3-5 preparing a student for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam. The latter, in my mind, is the most difficult of these types of tests (I am also certified to teach preparation courses for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) which I rate as the most enjoyable to teach.
I am also scheduled to begin my annual courses for staff members of Thailand’s fifth largest bank, Krungsri Bank of Ayudhya, in about two weeks’ time. I spent several days last month conducting placement exams and interviews for this year’s crop of eager tellers and exchange booth personnel. All of these courses involve a great deal of preparation (and study in some cases) in addition to the actual classroom lessons.Oh, and there are two more English camps scheduled to begin about three weeks from now. The theme for each of these (different grade levels from the same school) is English for Tourism with the students becoming “Junior Guides”. The younger students will conduct surveys of tourists on one of our beaches during the last day of camp while the high school students will act as tourist guides in one of the resort communities. I certainly hope their English skills are better than those at the last camp! For this, I need to create a “manual” for our Questioning Kids and Junior Guides including sections on Local Transportation, Attractions, Culture and Food.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, June was probably my busiest month ever. As far as billable hours are concerned (a significant portion of my work is not billable), I ended up with nearly 30 hours in overtime pay (I have a base number of teaching hours as salaried management). If there are no additions or subtractions (students occasionally need to cancel due to illness or inclement weather), my schedule for this month will put me at around 75 hours of overtime (nearly double my required teaching hours).
Normally, I would try to do a lot of work at home (designing flashcards and other camp materials, creating the books, etc.) but by the time I arrive at my apartment following a 90-minute local (open-air) bus ride, I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to eat dinner. I have still maintained my reading streak, although some evenings may see only 10 pages read, and there are one or two television programs I watch each week. I am far behind reading blogs, not to mention writing my own entries.The only philatelic activity that I have managed since mid-May has been the occasional purchase of Thai stamps from the nearby Phuket Philatelic Museum. However, one first day cover (for His Majesty the King’s Coronation) sold out before I got there and Bangkok failed to send two stamp issues (no stamps or first day covers) to Phuket at all. They do that from time to time; I think they feel that there isn’t as much interest in non-Buddhist or non-Royal issues so they simply do not distribute them to very many post offices outside of the capital. It is frustrating to say the least. Every year, I end up buying half of that particular year’s stamp issues from an online dealer (I cannot order stamps from Thailand Post itself for some unknown reason).
I think that, realisticly, I won’t be able to return to even occasional blog entries for quite some time. I hope my workload will lessen by mid-August but at this rate, who knows? All I know for certain that the our teaching agency/ language school is set to move to a location in Old Phuket Town at some point in the near future (possibly in August or September). That will involve an emtirely different kind of hard work! Perhaps I will be able to return to a high degree of philatelic pursuits, Postcrossing, blogging, and the rest of my hobbies before the start of 2020. I certainly hope so!