Oh my goodness I have never seen anything like this before! There were 2,000 teachers here alright, but it was also a full scale expo. Adding in members of the public, and students who were doing events, there were 10,000 people altogether! Things started out with a massive show by kids from all over the country, full of dancing and singing and plays in English. Then the Education Minister started a speech, and as he did, the kids started singing again, so he joined in! Wow, you’d never get that in Japan, the Education Minister actually joining in and singing in English!
Then afterwards I was told that my workshops would be in a different place, because …… the Prime Minister wants to use my room!!! Eh?? Errr, well, err, yeah, OK. But then a very nice lady from the Ministry slapped a security badge on me and said “You’re having lunch with him”!
So I had lunch with the Prime Minister! Talk about surreal to say the least. But it was really cool. There were also a group of students there and he did everything in English, talking about how education in Thailand can be improved, and it sounded like he was reading a Genki English blurb word-for-word, this could be really exciting.
This whole expo in fact was only put together in a matter of weeks, and they really have the intent to go ahead and implement all these changes, starting with confidence training for the teachers. In Japan it’s like, “Well, we know things are bad, but we can’t do anything”, in Korea it’s “Right, this is what we’re going to do. Do it, do it, do it!” whereas here it’s “yep, we’re doing it!”. In ten years Thailand could be a really strong world player if they keep this up!
So the rest of the day was spent sorting things out for tomorrow, chatting to people and even in Bangkok I can’t walk around without bumping into people I know, which is pretty cool I guess. But lunch with the Prime Minister, I’d have never thought of that this morning when I woke up!