Monday, 19 July 2010

Our last day already

We can't believe our last day has arrived. Everybody has been so welcoming and has looked after us so fantastically well. Say Ta Nar has felt like a home from home. Neeshar has really looked after us and it's been great getting to try so many delicious foods and treats.

Yummy treats to try

Coffee time!

The staff at Say Ta Nar are incredible. All the teachers work extremely hard, we can't believe how busy they are. They manage to help each other out, look after so many children and still manage to have a giggle at the same time.

Happy teachers!

Lovely longyi's - gifts from the teachers

The children have been so enthusiastic and are desperate to show us what they can do. They are very focused and work to a high standard. They have responded so well to us and have impressed us with their ability to work together and to support each other. We hope that they recognise just how much they are achieving.

Eager to learn

When you walk into any school, you know that you are going to be met by children with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The children at Say Ta Nar just seem to come into school and get on with it even although many of them have been through extremely difficult times.

Supporting each other

Not always so serious!

It has been really special working with Pho Cho and Neeshar. Say Ta Nar provides a safe and caring environment for the children to learn in and they are totally at ease. They are encouraged and supported, being helped to form their own thoughts and ideas and to share their own and views. Everything runs like clockwork but we know that things only go so smoothly because of the handwork behind the scenes.

Neeshar in her teacher role

Everyone mucks in

It's not all just been about teaching. We have learned more about Burma and the Burmese situation. Pho Cho takes great pride in his country's history and is determined that his pupils and visitors understand it's importance.

Team 2010

Working in a different school is challenging and everyone's flexibility and support have helped us achieve what we wanted too. This trip has been about sharing. We have been inspired by what we have seen at Say Ta Nar and are looking forward to going home and trying out new ideas. We hope the staff at Say Ta Nar have enjoyed working with us and that hopefully they'll have some new things to try out too. The children here have enjoyed seeing the work by Pirniehall and the children back home will be fascinated by the work, pictures and stories from Say Ta Nar that we will bring back with us.


Our lasting impression is how confident and proud the children are and how they are able to speak their minds. You just have to look at the children at Say Ta Nar to see that all the hard work is worth it.

Burmese Martyrs' Day

We can't believe it's Monday already!

Dazed and confused!!

Wakey wakey!

We arrived at school this morning to be met with a very proud Pho Cho holding a new sign that shows that Say Ta Nar is now an officially listed learning centre. Well done Say Ta Nar to be recognised by the Thai government.

Congratulations Say Ta Nar

We started the day working with the Grade 2's and 3's, continuing our wildlife work. We collected in the cameras from last week and the children assured us that they had managed to take pictures of some animals - fingers crossed! We brainstormed with the children which local animals they wanted to teach the Pirniehall children about and we managed to narrow it down to 8. We put the children into groups according to their chosen animal and they created beautiful diagrams.

Frog diagram

They then used their illustrations to collaboratively create a group talk. They were given a speaking frame to help them. To begin with the children spoke in Burmese but with a little encouragement from us they spoke in English and this was the result.

Preparing to talk

Talking positions boys and girls!

Talking about frogs!

We headed downstairs to work with Grade 1 before lunch and taught a Maths lesson using the whiteboards we had brought last year. We focused on adding 10 within 100.

Not much room

The children were confident with their number up to 100 and were able to work together to write their answers on the whiteboards. It was great to see everyone involved and whiteboards really are great for checking that everyone is understanding.

How many more?

Today we also worked with Grades 4-7 and formed Say Ta Nar's Eco Committee.

Say Ta Nar's Eco committee

We discussed Pirniehall's Eco code and its importance. Then in pairs, the children brainstormed their own ideas for Say Ta Nar's Eco code.

Helping each other to come up with ideas

The children have come up with some fantastic ideas which we managed to narrow down to 5 statements which will form their new Eco code.

Today was a bit chaotic because it was vaccination day. Almost every child at school had to have 2 injections. These injections are vital for their health and were supplied by Shoklo Malaria Research Unit. The children were very brave but there were a few tears.

Pupils had to be measured and weighed


The 19th of July is Burmese Martyrs' Day.

The day is observed to commemorate General Aung San and several other national independence leaders, all of whom were assassinated by a rival political group. Aung San was the father of Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. We found this poem on Wikipedia which we thought was quite touching, please follow this link to find out more.

Aung San Zarni
Born on February 13 was he
Born in 1915 to Lawyer U Pa Tha

In the City Of Blessed Meguay

Mother's name was Daw Su

The year 1947 died he,

On July 19th everyone weeped.
He is the cause of our Independence.
He is the father of this nation.

The blessings he had given us, the words he had uttered.....

How can we ever take those out of our minds......

Pho Cho had worked hard to make sure that the children and us understood the significance of the day. The children acted out what had happened on the day and it helped to make everything clearer for us. All of the teachers got up to speak and the children sang a song about the events of 19.07.47. Everybody sang their hearts out and it was a poignant moment that we won't forget.

Neeshar in full flow

Aung San and his cabinet

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Getting to know Mae Sot

Today we explored our hometown of Mae Sot. It is well known for being a bustling trade hub and also for its substantial population of Burmese, many of whom are refugees who can not return safely. It is one of the most important gateways to Burma with black-market trade between Myanmar and Thailand bringing in the majority of its income. The town has many western visitors who work and volunteer here and also a simmering tourist trade.

Even before we had started exploring, we were tempted by a yummy snack. There is no danger of us going hungry in Mae Sot as there is a huge range of things to eat. We've tried street food, traditional Burmese and Thai food and even Mexican! We are concerned we might not fit on the plane home!!

Bananas with butterscotch sauce - yum!

All week we have come across an array of stray dogs which can be quite upsetting. This dog clearly has an owner who loves it very much and we appreciated its Scottish bow.

Scottie dog

We had a lovely time wandering around the market. There is an amazing array of fun and interesting things to see. The market sells pretty much everything from food stuffs to clothes. We managed to buy a few presents and now our purses feel significantly lighter!

Busy market street

Could you fit anymore on there?

Everywhere we go, we have our teacher's hats on. Were pleased to see that the majority of produce was produced locally. This ties in nicely with our food miles comparison.

A familiar sight

An unfamiliar sight!

We stopped and had a delicious lunch to the great amusement of some teenagers. Little did we know that we were so hilarious! Luckily the owner of the market stall was taking things a bit more seriously.

Preparing beans

Leaving the market we stopped off at Borderline to have a cup of tea and to enjoy the exhibition. Borderline is a rapidly growing collective which supports local women's groups. The money raised supports the goals of community development and women's empowerment. We had a look around the shop which sells beautiful handicrafts made by local artisans. We managed to spend even more money here!

We managed to visit Wat Aranyakyet temple which was stunning. We particularly liked the mirrored effect on the outside which caught the sunlight. There is quite an ethnic mix in Mae Sot with some practicing Buddhism and others Islam and Christianity.

Peace and quiet

It was lovely having time to wander around today and there are lots of sights to see. Some of the sights however are more relaxing than others.

Keeping busy at the weekend

Hold on tight!

We have had a truly lovely time so far in Mae Sot. Its a bustling town that has got something for everyone. Despite being perceived at times in the past as 'unstable', we have felt very safe here. The people are friendly and welcoming and we love Mae Sot's rickety charm.

Typical Mae Sot street

Saturday, 17 July 2010

From Mae Sot to Myawaddy (Burma)

We were a little bit disappointed to see that it was raining this morning but set off in high spirits to visit Burma.

After an entertaining journey which involved a free tour in Burmeese we arrived at the border.

Teddy came too!

Passport control went very smoothly as we were prepared to hand over our passports for the day. We then set off across the Friendship bridge.

Balancing acts!

Once in Myawaddy we visited a temple and had a look around. It also provided welcome shelter from the rain. The rain didn't stop a couple of local children from having fun, as they amused themselves by sliding over the slippy wet tiles. Unfortunately no picture as they were completely naked!!

Temple views

Should have brought an umbrella!

We came across a local market and bought a couple of souvenirs which was great because we really wanted to buy things from the local people as opposed to government-run places.

Local market

Whilst wandering around, we noticed a marked difference between Mae Sot and Myawaddy. There is even a difference between the main street leading off from the border and the side streets. We wonder if this is 'keeping up appearances' or just coincidence.

This isn't whisky - it's petrol

Somethings missing

Streets apart

It was extremely easy for us to pop in and out of Burma today but it's important to remember that it's not so easy for others.

Border crossing

Alternative border crossing

Even although we were only able to visit for a very short time and could only see a small part of Burma, we were still struck by the contrasts and the lovely people that we met.