“I realize each day that teaching is my passion,” says Lauryn Wild, a PUC SM in Thailand – an impressive statement, considering that she has spent the first school term teaching spelling to 260 4th-6th graders and English to a 12th grade language class, in addition to working in the high school English department, grading papers for other teachers, and coaching the girls’ volleyball team! “I am really discovering that this year I will be stretched in so many ways as a teacher!” Lauryn admits.
Meanwhile, she has been experiencing the Thai culture. “If there is one thing that I want to take back with me,” she says, “it is the feeling of complete peacefulness that can be found here in the middle of a busy city. Thai people have perfected the art of simply “being” and taking breaks to enjoy life’s small treasures.”
On the other hand, Lauryn has found that some Thai parents create “an immense pressure cooker” for their children. “The parents here will push their kids so much, because they want them to be successful,” she explains. One day, Lauryn partnered up her 5th graders to work on spelling words. Noticing two boys struggling to work together, she approached them. “I realized that there was something larger occurring as one boy burst into tears,” she recounts.
Taking the boys aside, Lauryn discovered that the mother of one of the boys beats him or doesn’t let him eat if he scores less than 100%. Now, working in a team, he had the added pressure of making sure his friend did well. “We had a meaningful talk about what it means to support each other as friends and to do our personal best, and how Jesus encourages us as a Heavenly friend,” Lauryn says. She ended up writing letters to both boys’ moms, commending their commitment to school and friendship. Apparently, nobody had ever said anything positive to the parents about the boys, though they were both bright and obedient.
Within several weeks, the mother of the overwhelmed student had befriended both Lauryn and fellow SM Kyle Brown (also of PUC), and took them to lunch in the tallest restaurant in Bangkok! “I’m so happy that this is turning out to be a positive experience,” Lauryn says. “It is such a neat experience to see the hand of God work in mysterious ways!”
Through such experiences, Lauryn is coming to see that the impact she has may come in ordinary moments. “I am realizing that, while I cannot solve the students’ problems, I can point them to Jesus … and just by listening and being there I can perhaps let one child at a time experience God’s grace.”