Pupils from Goldsborough CE and Sicklinghall CP Schools visited Bangkok in February as part of the schools’ newly established international link with Satit Prasarnmit Demonstration School (Elementary) in the city. The trip, which took place during the February half term holiday, was the first of its kind and followed the visit of ten Thai students to North Yorkshire back in May 2017.
Eleven pupils from Years 5 and 6 took part in the visit and enjoyed many once in a lifetime experiences as part of their ambitious trip. For some, it was an opportunity to travel abroad for the first time and for all who took part, it was a trip that will be remembered for many years to come.
The trip began with a meal to sample local cuisine and with a day’s visit to Sampran, 40km west of Bangkok. Activities included Muay Thai martial arts, traditional bamboo dancing, rice milling and sword fighting. Certainly not your usual way to spend the first day of the half term holiday! The following day gave the pupils a unique opportunity- to take part in the school’s Khon performance. Satit Prasarnmit are the only school in Thailand licensed by the Royal family to perform the country’s traditional and historic Khon and they do so each year at the Thailand Cultural Centre in central Bangkok. Pupils were honoured to be invited to take part as guests and to be the first English pupils to ever perform as part of a Khon festival in Thailand. They performed a poem all about England to an audience of over 2000 which included a gymnastics display and a beautiful rendition of the theme tune to the Harry Potter films- a favourite amongst Thai children.
Following such a busy day, it was time for a little relaxation and an opportunity to compare two very contrasting locations. The group visited Ko Samae San- a small island off Pattaya run by the Thai military and to which only Thai nationals and their friends may visit. As the group were accompanied by teachers from the school, they were given a special invite to visit the island and they enjoyed the brilliant opportunity to sample the white sands and clear waters, swimming and snorkelling to find clown fish, made famous by the film ‘Finding Nemo’. For one of the group, the chance to swim alongside a swordfish was so exciting, he could hardly contain himself!
The rest of the week was spent in school but the new experiences did not stop presenting themselves. Pupils enjoyed the opportunity to learn Thai music, dance, cookery and language as well as making and cementing friendships.
The evenings were spent at the homes of host families where local cuisine and the opportunity to enjoy a play date with a difference was eagerly snapped up by all eleven travelling pupils. Pupils enjoyed comparing home lives of their new friends with their own and found many similarities despite being almost 6000 miles from home. Discussions included comparisons between Buddhist lifestyle and those more familiar in pupils’ own locality, how customs change the ways people act and behave and the approaches to learning adopted by the link school.
Pupils returned at the end of the week exhilarated by their cultural experience and bursting with stories that they could not wait to tell the group of parents who greeted them in the arrivals hall at Manchester airport. Goldsborough and Sicklinghall Schools look forward to welcoming two visiting teachers in April as part of their Professional Development programme and a second group of visiting pupils in June.