When Paul and Betty Manchak set off for the northeastern Thailand city of Ubon Ratchathani to help develop better strategies for schools to teach the English language to students in three schools, they did not realize how large an impact their efforts would leave, or how many friends they would make.
Paul and his wife Betty gave a report Monday to the Lexington Park Rotary on the two months they spend in Thailand teaching English and training teachers in English curriculum.
With the help of other Rotary and international volunteers, teachers were guided on how to provide an active learning environment for students. The project included follow up work at the “Rotary One School” in Ban-Bueng, which was started by the area’s local Rotary Club many years ago.
Aside from helping with curriculum development in the three schools targeted, the consortium of Rotary clubs involved also worked to rehabilitate sections of the school that have fallen in disrepair over the years. $10,000 was donated from the Lexington Park club to help rebuild the school’s cafeteria.
Other materials provided included Computers, Printers, Copy Print Mimeo, Reference Books and Picture Books, Shelves, Tables and Chairs, TV Sets and DVD Players.
“It’s not about just writing a check, but giving freely of your service and time,” Manchak said Monday, while outlining the time he and Betty spent with students, teachers and administrators at the schools.
Manchak passed around souvenirs from the trip, including pictures and thank you notes from students. One such note read: “Thank you for teaching me English. I prefer English.”
“You have helped put Southern Maryland and Lexington Park on the map,” Manchak said, speaking of another grateful student, who when asked what country he would like to visit, the response was “Lexington Park.”
Local Rotary clubs are affiliated with Rotary International, a world-wide arm of the service organization, though most of the work and donations for the Thailand project came from the Lexington Park club and Rotary clubs in Thailand.
Due to its wide reach, Rotary International is the only non-profit agency to have a seat in the United Nations, aside from the Red Cross.
The full multi-page report on the Manchaks’ work in Thailand is available on the Lexington Park Rotary’s Web site, in the March 13 The Spark newsletter under the Club Service menu.