Someone once told Danny Stewart that anyone who teaches EFL for more than 5 years must have some psychological problems. Well, he’s been here for eight years – all of them in deepest Ratchaburi. He’s taught at both a commercial school and a Rajabhat college.
Danny, are you still friends with the guy who implied you might have psychological problems, and do you think he was right?
If I remember correctly Phil, the guy was a she - way back in New Zealand. If we met again I'd probably buy her a beer and apologize for not listening back then.
You started off your teaching career by doing some voluntary work in your native Australia. Was this purely to get some experience after obtaining your CTEFLA?
Actually it was before I did my TEFL. It's what got me interested. It was a government scheme to help settle new migrants.
Who were you teaching exactly as regards nationalities?
I taught a husband and wife from El Salvador. A lovely couple. I won't forget watching a video that a relative had smuggled out of the country, showing dead bodies in the streets after the police and army had paid a friendly visit. And to part answer your other question that's coming up .......Why indonesia? I also taught an Indonesian woman. "Tutti" was a bit frutti. Nice but ......weird. So when I first went to Jakarta I stayed at her families house. Those rats could carry you away.
Sounds wonderful. You chose Jakarta, Indonesia for your first overseas teaching gig. I’ve never fancied Jakarta at all, but I’ve heard there’s good money to be made for a EFL teacher?
It was good money back then. The banks gave like...9% interest. Of course that was when the Asian tiger still had a tail. I worked in a branch of ILP. If anyone out there knows what happened to them, I'd love to hear.
Can you ever see yourself going back there if you got tired of teaching in Thailand?
I'd have to be awfully tired.
So I'll take that as a no. From Jakarta, you did a year at a school in Christchurch, New Zealand. That sounds awfully civilized. I can visualize a nice salary with a big fat benefits package?
I went to put my months salary in the bank and the teller was surprised at how much I earned. The benefits were; my bosses were friends, my workmates were great. The school was near the river and park, I got paid to take students on activities, ice skating, jet boating AND I just spent the last 2 days staying with an ex student from back then. A Thai mate. A great bloke but his English needs work. Ha!
But the wanderlust kicked in again, and this time it was Thailand that beckoned. More to the point Ratchburi? Why Ratchburi?
That's what the advert in the Australian newspaper said. I was supposed to be going to Japan actually. I had a job with Nova.
From what I've heard of Nova, you probably made a good decision. I haven’t spent much time in Ratchaburi, but I remember it had a KFC and loads of places selling the famous Ratchburi clay jars. Actually, we get quite a few jobs on the jobs board in that neck of the woods. Is there plenty of work for an EFL teacher then?
It also has a Pizza Shop now. Plenty of work?????? Do you wanna teach primary school?
Not really mate. What about when the sun goes down?
This is Thailand. You can always go out to drink.
I presume after many years in Ratchburi you must be quite a local celebrity? That must have serious drawbacks?
Drink - celebrity - Thailand. Infamous.
Your first job in Ratchers was at a commercial college. Tell us a little about that
I think I was there all of 3 months before I lost it and told the girls in the class that if they wanted to look in the mirror instead of their books then there are lots of jobs for them in Patpong.
Danny, I think that's your strength. You have an 'earthy' way of putting things. You stayed there three years so it must have been a decent gig apart from hordes of females all preening themselves. Why the decision to move to a Rajabhat?
I kinda had to move and teaching at the commercial school was pretty much a waste of time.
How did you top up your government salary during your four years at the rajabhat?
I didn't. I just spent it all. Not hard when the Rajabhat salary is pretty much the same as it was 10 years ago.
You’ve admitted that you broke your last contract at the rogerpot after 9 months. Care to share how that came about?
No. That was at a Gov't high school. That place was a mess.The school marching band in the mornings was enough to drive you crazy. The other farang teacher also left.
I’ve always maintained that Aussies make the best teaching colleagues a teacher can have. They just seem to have this wonderful carefree attitude and very little seems to really bother them. Is it something in the Australian water?
Ha ha. Are you joking? The other teacher I mentioned was also an Aussie. We had to calm each other down. Anyway, I'm half Kiwi. I blame my temper on my Scots blood.